Updated on August 24, 2022
As citizens of the United States, we have rights, including the right to be represented by a lawyer during every stage of the criminal court process. Regardless of the legal circumstances, having an experienced attorney by your side is always in your best interests.
While anyone who is arrested can exercise their constitutional right to be represented by a criminal defense attorney, many people are reluctant to hire a Georgetown criminal defense attorney right away.
If you are facing a criminal charge—even a charge that you may consider to be a relatively minor—you are well-advised to have an experienced criminal defense attorney on your side.
A conviction comes with penalties and fines, and it is also a matter of public record. Any conviction can significantly affect your social standing and future. Taking criminal charges of every kind seriously is always the best course of action.
If you have not contacted a criminal lawyer immediately after your arrest or as soon as you become aware of the charges against you, take the following information into account as you search for a lawyer to represent your best interests in and out of court.
When You Need a Criminal Defense Attorney
If you are unsure of whether or not you need a criminal defense attorney, keep in mind that many crimes have harsh penalties, including imprisonment. This thought alone may be convincing enough to motivate you to contact a Georgetown criminal defense lawyer to represent you.
It is not recommended to take your chances when you are facing criminal charges in Georgetown or other parts of Texas. It is imperative to have a skilled lawyer on your side during the entirety of the criminal court process, which includes the following stages:
A knowledgeable criminal lawyer understands the unique procedures at each step and will zealously advocate for your rights and interests to protect your freedom and help you avoid a conviction. Contact a lawyer today to get the support you need throughout the criminal court process.
Signs That You Should Hire a Criminal Defense Lawyer
Facing criminal charges is a frustrating and stressful experience for you and your family. However, the worst thing you can do is just sit and wait for your arraignment or trial date, hoping that your charges will be dismissed. It is unlikely that the charges against you will be dismissed if you do not hire an experienced criminal defense lawyer to represent you.
If you are not sure when to hire a criminal defense lawyer, review these four signs that you need an attorney to defend you against the criminal charges:
You Committed the Criminal Offense
If you actually committed the criminal offense and you know that the charges against you are valid, it is imperative to hire a Georgetown criminal defense attorney as soon as possible.
It is essential to have a lawyer on your side—even if you are guilty—for the following reasons:
Your attorney will thoroughly review your case to help you understand your options.
Your attorney can help you negotiate a favorable plea deal.
Your lawyer can help you get your charges dropped or even dismissed under some circumstances, including if your constitutional rights were violated during your arrest or if there is insufficient evidence to convict you.
You Are Innocent
Unfortunately, many people who are falsely accused of a crime choose to represent themselves because they mistakenly believe that they do not need a lawyer. However, just because you are innocent does not mean that you will not be convicted of the crime. You still need to convince the court that you are not guilty.
An experienced attorney can identify the best defense strategies to prove that you are innocent in your particular situation.
You Could Go to Jail
If the penalties for the offense you were charged with include jail time, it is vital to speak with a criminal defense lawyer as soon as you can. Charges that could result in imprisonment should be taken very seriously because you need a solid defense strategy.
You Are under Investigation
If you become aware of an ongoing investigation and possible criminal charges, it is crucial to talk to a lawyer right away. Do not wait until the prosecutor files the charges against you. As a rule of thumb, it is easier to convince the prosecutor not to file charges than fight against the charges that have been filed.
Your criminal defense attorney will review the evidence against you to prove that you are innocent and cannot be charged with a crime. The sooner you contact a lawyer, the stronger the defense you can mount. The stronger the defense, the better the chance of a positive outcome.
What Your Experienced Criminal Defense Attorney Brings to the Table
There are a number of important reasons why you need an experienced criminal defense attorney on your side if you are facing a criminal charge of any kind in the State of Texas.
Knowledge of the Legal System
Having a dedicated criminal defense attorney in your corner ensures that you will have a reliable guide through the judicial system, which can prove invaluable. The legal system is nothing if not confusing, and failing to understand the ins and outs of the process, failing to protect your legal rights, and failing to ensure your case’s best possible resolution can land you in hot water.
Having a skilled Georgetown criminal defense attorney with a close working knowledge of your case will allow you to proceed with the confidence that comes from knowing your legal rights are well protected and that your best interests have been taken into careful account.
Demystifying the judicial process is half the battle, and this is one very important reason why hiring a knowledgeable criminal defense attorney early in the process is paramount.
Experienced criminal defense attorneys have established close working relationships within the judicial system, including with the prosecution. While a strong working bond between adversarial sides (your defense and the prosecution) may strike you as odd, it can actually prove extremely beneficial.
Optimal case outcomes often come down to negotiating plea deals or even having charges dropped altogether, which requires engaging in skilled negotiations with the prosecution.
When your criminal defense attorney knows how the prosecutor in your case operates and understands the best path forward in relation to his or her preferences and idiosyncrasies, it can greatly improve your chances of reaching your case’s most beneficial outcome.
Experience with Similar Cases
You are facing a criminal charge and are likely at a total loss for how to move forward with your case. The fact is, however, that your seasoned criminal defense attorney has been here before. He or she knows what to expect, how to build your strongest defense, and how best to proceed.
While no two cases are ever exactly alike, the legal basics generally remain the same for all similar cases. Your criminal defense attorney’s experience guiding cases like yours to favorable resolutions can go a long way. When it comes to your criminal defense, never underestimate the value of your attorney’s experience successfully handling similar cases.
Eyes on the Prize
Your criminal defense attorney has his or her sights on what is most important—your future—which means that he or she is dedicated to doing what it takes to defend your legal rights within the parameters of the law and the evidence in your case.
Ultimately, your attorney will focus on crafting your strongest defense and on skillfully negotiating with the prosecution for the best possible terms moving forward, whatever this means in your unique case.
Understanding of the Conduct of Law Enforcement
Your criminal defense attorney has a close working knowledge of the legal limits that guide law enforcement, which can prove exceptionally beneficial in your criminal case. The police are not without limits, and not everything they come up with is going to hold up in court.
Because attorneys understand the law’s blind spots, loopholes, and nuanced requirements, you can count on them to hone in on any infringements of your legal rights. An important element of the work performed by criminal defense attorneys is ferreting out any illegal or suspicious conduct on the part of law enforcement and determining how this conduct affects your case.
Avoidance of Self-Incrimination
Your criminal lawyer will speak on your behalf and will not incriminate you in the process. The fact is that the police are adept at guiding suspects’ testimonies, and after being stopped by the police is a terrible time to try to think on your feet. If you have a lawyer on your side, he or she can guide you through the interrogation process and help you avoid self-incrimination.
Control over Potential Outcomes
You have been charged with a crime, and you are very likely fretting that you will ultimately face the worst possible outcome that the law can throw at you, but with an experienced criminal defense lawyer, this is not likely to be the case. In fact, an important facet of your attorney’s job is to help you understand what is likely to happen in your case and what your best options are.
The best path forward for you will be specific to the unique situation involved, but you can trust your criminal defense attorney to provide you with knowledgeable guidance every step of the way—helping to ensure that you obtain the best deal and the most favorable case resolution possible in your specific situation.
Is a plea deal best for you, or are you better off battling the prosecution in court? These are questions that only you and your Georgetown criminal defense attorney can answer—after thoroughly examining the specifics of your case.
Potential to Save Money
Yes, hiring a reputable criminal defense attorney can be expensive, but the truth of the matter is that having solid legal representation on your side can save you money in the long run. A conviction can lead to serious legal consequences and hefty fines that have untold financial ramifications.
Resolving your case favorably can benefit your reputation, save you money, and protect your future—making hiring an experienced criminal defense attorney a bargain.
What to Look for When Choosing a Criminal Defense Lawyer
Choosing a criminal defense attorney is a daunting task. However, it is crucial to find the right lawyer for your specific case because the choice of your criminal defense attorney will have a significant impact on the outcome of your case.
Here are several things you should look for when choosing a Georgetown criminal defense lawyer:
The lawyer needs to have vast experience representing clients in criminal cases similar to yours. For example, some criminal defense lawyers mainly focus on DWI cases, but they may not be able to effectively defend you in a sexual offense or drug crime case.
You should also be sure that your prospective lawyer has an impressive track record overall, proving that he or she is skilled at guiding cases to positive resolutions.
When choosing a Georgetown criminal lawyer, it is essential to make sure that you are hiring someone who understands how to handle your case to help you secure a positive outcome.
It is advisable to hire a local attorney who has experience working with the local criminal justice system, connections with local judges and prosecutors, and proven ability to work with the local prosecution. For example, if you were charged with a crime in Georgetown, it makes sense to look for a criminal defense lawyer in Georgetown.
It is also important to hire someone you can trust. You are going to have to share personal information with your attorney, so it is essential to feel comfortable opening up to him or her. (“Is Everything I Tell My Criminal Defense Lawyer Confidential?”)
If a lawyer failed to impress you and gain your trust during your free initial consultation, you might want to consider finding another one.
An attorney who genuinely cares about the outcome of your case, who has time to take on your case, who will give it his or her all, and who will go to the mat for you is a dedicated attorney that will fight to protect your legal rights and your future.
Reasonable and Transparent
Last but not least, it is essential to hire a lawyer with reasonable and transparent fees. A skilled Georgetown criminal defense attorney is able to estimate the cost of legal representation during the first consultation or meeting.
FAQ about Hiring a Criminal Defense Attorney
The answers to some of the most frequently asked questions as they relate to criminal charges may help you answer your most pressing questions.
Doesn’t Hiring an Attorney Make Me Look Guilty?
If you have been arrested for a crime, it is time to put away your concerns about how things look and reach out to an experienced Georgetown criminal defense attorney. Your legal rights are far more important than appearances, and if the police have arrested you, they already think you are guilty.
Do not be fooled into forsaking your rights in an effort to maintain the appearance of innocence. Plenty of innocent people are found guilty, so do yourself a favor and reach out to a criminal defense attorney sooner rather than later.
Further, if you are being questioned in relation to a crime, cutting your losses and moving directly toward calling an attorney is a sound approach. Again, the police are questioning you because they believe you played a role, and the distance between being questioned and being charged is often short.
What Should I Do If I Am Arrested for a Crime?
Being arrested for a crime is a terrifying event that can leave you at an utter loss regarding how best to proceed. Although your situation will be specific to the circumstances involved, there are some basic tips you should know that apply across the board and that can help you:
Provide the officer with your name and contact information.
Maintain your composure.
Ask for an attorney from the outset.
Do what you are asked but remain silent until your attorney arrives.
Do not talk about the charges or the case on the phone.
Do not agree to anything in relation to the charge, and do not sign anything before your attorney arrives.
Many people mistakenly believe that, because they are innocent, explaining their innocence to the police is the best course of action, but this is a naive approach. Although the police are generally skilled at what they do, they are also predisposed to believe their own assumptions, presumptions, and hunches regarding guilt, whether they are true in the case at hand or not.
Do yourself a favor and allow your dedicated Georgetown criminal defense attorney to handle the police on your behalf. This advice applies when you are arrested in any of the following situations:
Pulled Over for a Traffic Stop
Texas traffic stops often lead to arrests for possession. With the hyper-focus on opioids, you can even be arrested for prescription medications like Xanax or OxyContin if you don’t have your prescription bottle with you. Being pulled over by the police can leave the most poised among us rattled, so do not take this opportunity to explain yourself—wait for your lawyer.
Arrested for Shoplifting
Generally, the stores we shop in have cameras installed throughout them, and if you are caught on camera even innocently putting a can of cat food in your pocket while you search for your phone in your bag, it can lead to a shoplifting arrest.
These charges can be serious, so it is important to know your rights if you are accused of shoplifting. If a shoplifting accusation arises, ask for a lawyer right away.
Subjected to Search and Seizure
Often, a routine traffic stop for a defective light—or anything else—can morph into a situation in which the officer believes he or she has the right to search the vehicle in question.
For example, if an officer stops you for speeding, decides that he or she smells marijuana, and then proceeds to search your vehicle without your permission, it may be a case of unreasonable search and seizure.
However inconvenient this situation may be, this is no time to get lippy—keep your cool and ask for a lawyer. In this situation, your silence is the best strategy.
What Are Some Common Criminal Charges in the State of Texas?
While criminal charges come in many different forms, some are far more common than others.
Larceny-theft is the legal term for theft, which refers to taking someone else’s property unlawfully. The penalties and fees associated with theft are generally dependent upon the value of the stolen goods, and the level of the charge can range from a misdemeanor to a felony. Fines range from $500 to $10,000 and sentences can stretch to as far as 20 years behind bars.
The charges of burglary and theft are often confused, but there are considerable distinctions. Burglary involves the commission of a felony, theft, or assault in the process of entering someone else’s private property.
The charge levied depends upon the value of the stolen property and the nature of the property that was illegally entered, but the charges can range from state jail felonies all the way to first-degree felonies. Fines can be as high as $10,000, and sentences can reach the level of confinement for life.
Motor Vehicle Theft
Because of the value of stolen vehicles, motor vehicle theft is in a class by itself. Motor vehicle theft can involve any of the following crimes:
Buying or selling stolen vehicles
Failing to register a vehicle
Selling parts out of abandoned or wrecked vehicles that do not belong to the seller
Motor vehicle theft typically starts at the level of Class A misdemeanor and can reach the level of a third-degree felony, depending upon the vehicle’s value.
Drug crimes can range from misdemeanors to serious felonies. Drugs are classified according to penalty groups, and the associated charges vary accordingly. The amount of the drug involved also plays a pivotal role in the attendant charge. Common drug charges include the following crimes:
Possession of drug paraphernalia
Distribution of a controlled substance
Possession with the intent to manufacture a controlled substance
Aggravated assault relates to either causing the victim to lose function of a body part—even temporarily (for example, by breaking the victim’s arm)—or using or exhibiting a deadly weapon in the commission of the crime.
Aggravated assault usually carries a charge of a second-degree felony, and a conviction can lead to fines of up to $10,000 and to a sentence lasting 2 to 20 years.
Get a Free Consultation with Our Georgetown Criminal Defense Lawyers
When it comes to criminal charges, the question of whether or not you need an experienced criminal defense attorney on your side is the easiest of all, and the universal answer is yes, you do.
Brett Pritchard at The Law Office of Brett H. Pritchard—proudly serving Killeen, Texas—is a savvy criminal defense attorney whose practice focuses on guiding cases toward resolutions that benefit his clients, and he is here for you. Your legal rights and freedoms are too important to leave to chance, so please do not hesitate to contact us online or call us at (254) 781-4222.