In most criminal cases, defendants are represented by a criminal lawyer. This is particularly true in cases where jail or a prison sentence is the most likely result. However, there are defendants who believe that they can competently handle their own defence. While there are no available statistics on the number of people who have decided to represent themselves in court, estimates range below one percent.
The big difference between paper and practice in criminal cases
There are people who love reading criminal law books where crimes are defined and punishments explained for every violation including criminal procedures. After investing a lot of time and effort in reading law books, a defendant won’t immediately understand the criminal justice system. Criminal defence lawyers must have read hundreds of law books but they have become competent in their job due to experience in different criminal cases.
For example, there are prosecutors who will decide whether or not to file criminal charges and what charges to file. Since prosecutors have the power to decide, their decisions can greatly affect the outcome of a case. An act that seems to constitute one specific crime on paper may suddenly become a variety of crimes with some of them more serious. In the statute book where all laws are recorded, a fixed sentence for a particular crime may be negotiated in a variety of alternatives.
There are many factors that affect the outcome of a criminal case from community pressure, values, and politics. There are certain crimes that easily gain public and media attention. They expect the judge to get tough on the defendant. A criminal lawyer who is familiar with these factors will understand the pressures that can affect the case and how to work within them.
Every criminal case is unique and only experienced criminal lawyers can assess the case and deal with the many variables that go with it. Criminal lawyers do not only question witnesses in court; they have to negotiate deals with prosecutors. They have to arrange for reduced charges and lesser sentences with prosecutors who are uncooperative. They have to help defendants deal with fear and anxiety once they know what will likely happen when the case goes to court.
One of the difficult parts of a lawyer’s job is trying to explain to a defendant whether to accept the prosecutor’s offer of a plea bargain. It is extremely difficult for a defendant to decide to plead guilty in exchange for an agreement that the prosecutor will recommend a lesser sentence. The criminal lawyer must be able to offer the best legal advice for the best interests of the defendant. He must explain the risks of a harsher punishment if the case goes to trial including the costs that it will require.
It is important to find a criminal defence lawyer who truly comprehends the situation. There are lawyers who have specialized in specific criminal cases and can answer questions in a way that you will understand. He has the willingness to explain different options to ensure the best possible outcome.