What is a criminal defense lawyer?
A criminal defense lawyer is a lawyer who defends individuals and companies charged with criminal conduct. Some criminal defense lawyers are privately retained, while others are employed by the various jurisdictions with criminal courts for appointment to represent indigent persons; the latter are generally called public defenders. Persons who are charged with a crime are all entitled to be represented by an attorney. The public defender is not a “choice” that a person can make just to save money. To qualify for the services of the public defender, a defendant must submit financial information. If they meet certain financial criteria, the court will pay for their representation. For individuals who do not financially qualify as indigent who want to obtain the finest representation possible, Wegman & Levin provides experience, integrity and dedication.
What does a criminal defense lawyer do?
In the United States, criminal defense lawyers deal with the issues surrounding an arrest, a criminal investigation, criminal charges, sentencing, appeals and post-trial issues. An arrest simply means a police officer or judge believes reasonable suspicion exists that a person committed a crime. An arrest does not necessarily mean that a criminal charge has been claimed by a prosecuting attorney.
Criminal defense lawyers also deal with the substantive issues of the crimes with which his or her clients are charged. Criminal defense lawyers may also help clients before charges have been filed by a prosecuting attorney. This is done when someone believes he or she is being investigated or is arrested. The person may hire a criminal defense lawyer to help with counsel and representation dealing with police or other investigators, perform his or her own investigation, and at times present exculpatory evidence that negates potential charge by the prosecutor. Wegman & Levin represents individuals in all stages of criminal matters, including pre-arrest and pre-indictment (investigatory phases).
Criminal defense lawyers in California must have a clear understanding of the United States Constitution. Specifically, the Fourth Amendment protects against unlawful searches and seizures while the Fifth and Sixth Amendments govern the right to remain silent so one does not become a witness against himself. All of the Amendments to the United States Constitution are guaranteed to the criminal accused against the states via the Fourteenth Amendment. Thus, a criminal defense lawyer must understand each of these rights. Initial work on any criminal case involves review of the charges and the claimed facts, and analysis of constitutional violations, the prima facie burden of the prosecution, defenses, and affirmative defenses; as well as potential sentence and sentencing issues. Wegman & Levin has extensive experience in protecting its clients’ constitutional rights.
Early stages of a criminal case may involve a grand jury or preliminary hearing to determine if there exists probable cause for the case to continue. A violation of the Fourth or Fifth Amendment, or other illegally obtained evidence could result in evidence being inadmissible at trial. Accordingly, a criminal defense lawyer often spends a considerable amount of time reviewing all documentation to determine if the case can be won on Constitutional Grounds due to illegal conduct by the government. Wegman & Levin reviews each case (police reports and other documents, videos and audio recordings) looking for every indicia of illegality in the prosecution’s case. When it exists, Wegman & Levin has extensive experience in the procedures for excluding such evidence from the case.
Should there not be Constitutional violations, much of the work of a criminal defense attorney then turns to trial preparation. Any proposed settlement agreement must be compared to the best judgment about the outcome after trial. A criminal defense lawyer will usually discuss potential plea agreements with the prosecuting attorney, as an alternative to exercising the defendant’s trial right and other rights. Plea agreements, when made, can be characterized as either charge agreements (often involving a less serious charge), sentencing agreements (involving a lesser sentence), or both. Wegman & Levin has had a great deal of experience in negotiating advantageous plea agreements for its clients.
Call Wegman & Levin today at (818) 980-4000 for information on representation.
Initial consultations are always FREE