Whether you are a first-time alleged offender or you have been arrested before, criminal charges can push you to the limits. Too many Americans face the challenging reality of defending themselves against criminal charges on an annual basis. The stresses of this situation can be overwhelming.
Unfortunately, the system is generally structured in such a way that you may be treated as guilty until you are declared innocent when the system is supposed to operate in the opposite fashion. You may also be denied legal counsel for some of the most significant stages of the proceeding; a reality that would ultimately affect your chances of winning your case. Furthermore, you may face intimidation from the prosecutor's team with impromptu warrants to search your premises for any evidence. Thankfully, the law does guard against these kinds of intrusive challenges and an experienced criminal defense attorney will be able to help you navigate them.
Thanks to the Sixth Amendment you are allowed to have access to an attorney during every substantial criminal proceeding. Most of the time, this constitutional right is upheld once when the interrogation phase begins. However, you have every right to hire a lawyer even before that period begins. When you hire a criminal defense attorney early in the process, you are more likely to be able to make informed decisions about your rights and your case.
In the case that you can't afford an attorney, under the law, the judge has the right to assign you a defense lawyer. In most instances, court-appointed attorneys are overworked and overwhelmed. They are unlikely to have adequate time to prepare your case as solidly as you would hope. For this reason, it's better to hire your own lawyer unless circumstances will not allow for this course of action.
Once you are on the hunt for a defense attorney, it may be wise to settle for a former prosecutor turned defense defendant. Here's why. First, these attorneys understand the minds of prosecutors and can judge which angles they are likely to attack you from. They also have experience working at the DA's office and may be aware of strategies that will allow you access to a favorable plea agreement.