Do I Really Need a Criminal Defense Attorney?
Unless you have a parking ticket, a seat belt ticket or maybe a jaywalking citation, you should almost certainly have an experienced defense attorney help you with criminal charges. If you try to handle your case by yourself, without the benefit of counsel, you enter risky territory without a map. You could end up putting your future in serious jeopardy.
As we explain below, a Raleigh criminal defense lawyer can play a vital role in protecting your rights and in developing a sound defense strategy. This is true if you have been charged with a crime. It is also true if you are merely under investigation, and you have not yet been charged with anything.
How Can a Criminal Defense Lawyer Assist During Pre-Charge Investigation?
Prosecutors in North Carolina want to win cases. So, they will pursue an indictment only if they feel confident that they can secure a guilty plea or verdict. They will base that confidence on the evidence that police collect during the pre-charge investigation, including:
- Statements from you and witnesses
- Physical evidence (including DNA and fingerprints)
- Photos and video
- Digital evidence (such as phone records, ATM transactions and evidence that can be extracted from electronic devices such as a computer or iPad).
So, if you have any reason to believe that you are under investigation for a crime, you should have a lawyer at your side. An experienced attorney will know how to protect your constitutional rights and prevent you from giving potentially damaging statements or other evidence to police. After all, even though detectives may be friendly and ask if they can “just ask a couple of questions,” the reality is that they are looking for evidence that they may ultimately try to use against you. If you go forward without legal advice and representation, you could expose yourself to a great amount of risk.
In some situations, a lawyer may be able to work with police and prosecutors to help a client avoid charges or face lesser charges in exchange for cooperation. The lawyer may even help the police realize that they are looking at the wrong suspect.
If you are eventually charged with a crime, a lawyer who worked with you during the pre-charge investigation stage will have a strong understanding of the facts and issues in your case. The lawyer can have a defense strategy already in place and stand ready to fight any charge against you.
Don’t listen to people who tell you that hiring a lawyer before you have been charged with a crime is a waste of money, or that having a lawyer will only “make you look guilty.” In reality, working with a lawyer early in the process could save you money down the road – and spare you a great deal of stress – especially if the lawyer helps you to avoid charges altogether.
How Can a Defense Attorney Help After You Are Charged with a Crime?
If you have been arrested for a crime, a lawyer can provide a wide range of services that will benefit you. For instance, among the services that our legal team at Kurtz & Blum, PLLC, provides to clients are:
- Seeking release from custody at a bail or bond hearing.
- Making sure the prosecution turns over all evidence (where North Carolina’s discovery rules apply) or employ strong professional relationships with prosecutors and police to learn about cases (where discovery rules do not apply).
- Analyzing the evidence and identifying any weaknesses or other problems in the prosecution’s case.
- Filing pretrial motions, as necessary, including motions to suppress unlawfully obtained evidence (which could lead to a reduction or dismissal of a charge).
- Working with prosecutors to reach a plea agreement that minimizes a client’s potential consequences – and advising clients on whether to accept the plea offer or go to trial.
- Aggressively advocating for our clients in the courtroom if a case does go to trial, including carefully selecting jurors, challenging the prosecution’s evidence and possibly presenting evidence on our clients’ behalf.
- Arguing for the lightest punishment possible at sentencing if a client accepts a plea offer, or if a jury returns a guilty verdict.
- Handling all matters that could arise after a conviction, including appeals, motions for appropriate relief or expungement matters.
Additionally, a lawyer can ensure that you fully understand the charges against you and know what is happening at each stage of your case, including informing you of all court dates where you must appear. The lawyer can discuss how the evidence may help or hurt your case, review your possible defenses and explore all options available to you. At Kurtz & Blum, we directly communicate with our clients, answer their questions and give the straightforward advice they need in order to make the best decisions for themselves and their families.
What Are the Potential Consequences of Representing Yourself?
It is amazing how many people make the mistake of attempting to handle their own charges. The stakes are always high – even in minor cases. If you miss court, for instance, your license could be revoked, or you might even be arrested.
If you handle your case incorrectly you may end up spending several times as much money in legal fees to attempt to fix the harm you caused by not hiring an attorney. Sometimes, the problems that people cause themselves by self-representation can’t be fixed at all.
If you are charged with a crime, you are going to be faced with a number of choices. It will be up to you to make the final decision, but with a skilled and experienced attorney at your side, the chances are far greater that the attorney’s counsel will steer you in the right direction.
Our Raleigh Criminal Defense Attorneys Are Ready to Help You
The criminal justice system in Wake County and throughout North Carolina presents a maze of options, rules and pitfalls. At Kurtz & Blum, we will guide you through that maze while following the rules and avoiding the pitfalls. Together, we will work to pursue the best outcome possible in your case.
Our founding attorneys, Howard Kurtz and Seth Blum, have more than a half-century of combined criminal defense experience in North Carolina. They have helped clients with everything from minor traffic tickets to homicide prosecutions. Their skills and knowledge will make a meaningful difference for you as you move ahead in your case.
If, on the other hand, you simply would prefer to work with alternate counsel, that’s fine too. We’re not trying to say that you’re taking a needless and serious risk unless you hire Kurtz & Blum. We are saying that you should have a lawyer looking out for your best interests, from the moment you are under investigation for a crime until the final outcome is reached.
If you find yourself unable to afford to hire your own counsel – in other words, you are “indigent” – you should absolutely request to have an attorney appointed to represent you. You can do this on your first court date. In North Carolina, appointed counsel may be an attorney from the local public defender’s office, or it may be one who is on a list of local attorneys who represent indigent clients.
Just don’t forget the old proverb, “He who represents himself has a fool for a client.” Those words ring as true today as when they were first spoken. Don’t take chances with your future: Hire a lawyer.
To learn more, call or connect with us online today for a free and completely confidential consultation.