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Criminal defense attorneys provide help to those facing misdemeanor or felony criminal charges. The attorney will research the circumstances surrounding the charge and investigate the case on behalf of the client. This may involve talking to police, interviewing witnesses, determining a plea, and assessing possible sentences. With this information, the defense attorney can negotiate plea deals or navigate a court case on behalf of the client. In some cases, the attorney may get a case dismissed entirely, a reduction in bail or jail time, or probation or community service instead of prison.
Any criminal charge that could result in a prison sentence requires the help of a criminal defense lawyer. This applies to both misdemeanor and felony charges, including:
The first thing to do after being charged with a crime is to contact a criminal defense attorney. It is best to hire a defense attorney as soon as possible after being released from arrest, and before an arraignment takes place. The attorney will explain charges in detail, and possible consequences, to help you decide whether a plea deal or a jury trial is the best option. Most attorneys offer free consultations to discuss the circumstances of a criminal case and how they're able to assist. Speaking with a number of defense attorneys before hiring one can increase the likelihood of finding the right fit, and getting the best defense possible.
All Americans are afforded the right to hire an attorney to act as a defense in a legal case. However, not everyone can afford one. If an attorney isn’t in a defendant’s budget, and the defendant’s income meets designated state or local thresholds, the court system will provide a public defender. This attorney usually works on cases pro bono or without any fees paid by the defendant. Many public defenders have a high caseload, which can limit the amount of time they are able to devote to each case. In most situations, hiring a dedicated criminal defense lawyer ensures the best outcome. This is particularly true in more serious felony cases that can result in a significant prison sentence without the involvement of a skilled, experienced defense attorney.
Working with a criminal defense attorney is the best way to minimize the ramifications of committing or being accused of a crime. Criminal attorneys thoroughly investigate the circumstances surrounding a case to prove innocence or inspire reasonable doubt in a jury. Criminal defense lawyers also are better prepared to negotiate with the prosecutors. Due to the high cost and logistics involved with taking a case to trial, many prosecutors are willing to reduce sentences in exchange for avoiding a jury trial. An experienced criminal attorney understands what would be a reasonable deal for a specific criminal charge, and will negotiate it on behalf of the defendant.
Whether legal fees from a criminal case can be deducted on a tax return depends on the circumstances. If criminal charges pertain to activities related to a trade or business, attorney fees can be deducted on a business tax return, as they are considered an expense associated with the normal course of business. However, personal legal fees cannot be deducted.