If you are facing a criminal charge, it is important that you develop a good understanding of how the legal system works and the steps you will need to take to defend yourself in court. Being convicted of a criminal offence can have a significant impact on your life and could result in jail time, large fines or loss of employment. Read on to find out everything you need to know about what happens when you have been charged with a crime.
The first thing you should focus on is finding a lawyer who can represent you in court. You should never appear in court without a trained legal professional by your side. Your criminal defence lawyer should have years of training, which means they have a deep understanding of how the legal system works and how and when to submit various appeals, objections and requests to the judge. If you cannot afford your own criminal defence lawyer, you have the right to access a court-appointed lawyer at no cost.
Determining your plea
Before the trial begins, you will be asked to attend court to enter a plea. Now is the time when you will plead guilty or not guilty. While your criminal defence lawyer cannot tell you what you should plea, they can discuss the likely outcomes of a guilty or not guilty plea. For example, by pleading guilty before a trial begins, you may receive a reduced sentence or penalty in recognition of your admission of guilt. Pleading guilty may also allow your defence lawyer to negotiate a plea deal, in which you provide assistance to ongoing investigations or prosecutions in return for a reduced sentence. However, if you are innocent of the crime, it is likely you will wish to plead not guilty. If you do so, the case will go to trial and a jury will have the chance to decide.
Understanding the case against you
While your lawyer will no doubt be interested in your side of the story in relation to the alleged criminal activity, they will also focus on the case that the prosecution is trying to build against you. While you may disagree with the claims the prosecution are making, it is important that you are able to understand them so you can organise your defence. Because your criminal defence lawyer is experienced, they will be able to explain the case against you and the different options you have when it comes to responding to the allegations.
If you would like more information, you should contact a criminal defence lawyer today.