Convictions for criminal offenses often mean spending time in prison. Other consequences include fines, court costs, and damage to your reputation. A criminal conviction can make it hard to fine work, cost you a professional license and your right to carry a gun, and may bar you from applying for certain government programs.
Representation of defendants requires experience, resources, and a dedicated staff and investigative team. Strong advocacy includes an understanding of the people who work in the criminal justice system including the police, prosecutors, and judges. It helps to have a feeling for which arguments the government will find persuasive and which arguments generally don’t work. It also helps to have more than two hours to investigate your own case.
A New York Times article from 2019 profiled just how hard local public defender systems have providing quality counsel. The report states that public defenders, on average, have caseloads that are two to five times larger than they can competently handle. One public defender in Louisiana was given the impossible task of representing 143 defendants with felony charges at the same time; another attorney, named Jack Talaska, was tasked with handling 194 felony charges at the same time.
The Times report found that, on average:
- High-level felonies, ones with sentences of at least 10 years, need about 70 hours of legal attention;
- Mid-level felonies, which carry sentences under 10 years, need 41 hours of legal attention; and
- Felonies where a conviction will lead to life without parole require about 200 hours of legal attention.
In Mr. Talaska’s case, the Times reported he would need approximately 10,000 hours to effectively represent every client he had – about five years’ worth of work. It’s simply not possible to provide competent representation when an attorney only has a few minutes before a court trial.
This is why, when you’re facing criminal charges, you should hire your own criminal defense attorney.
Ways in which a private criminal defense lawyer fights for your rights
When it comes down to it, criminal defense attorneys can offer a lifeline that public defenders and legal aid society attorneys cannot – their time. Some of the many ways a skilled criminal defense attorney helps defendants are the following:
- Explaining your rights. The lawyer will explain the moment the accused contacts him that the accused shouldn’t say anything – the lawyer will speak for the defendant. The attorney will contest any open requests to search your property or possession.
- Requesting bail reductions. Defense lawyers will often request that you be released on your own recognizance or that bail be reduced. It’s much easier to prepare your case if you aren’t in jail while the case is pending. Defendants, in many cases, shouldn’t have to serve time before they’re even tried in court.
- Investigation. Skilled lawyers will investigate the facts of the case. For example, if you are accused with stealing from a restaurant cash register, the attorney will have someone from his office examine the restaurant so it’s clear who had access to the register and how hard it was to reach it.
- Suppression of evidence. If the police failed to follow procedures, a private defense lawyer will seek to have the evidence suppressed – which means the evidence can’t be introduced into court. The police are required to have proper grounds to stop you, to search you, and to ask you to perform certain tests such as breathalyzer tests.
- Competent staff. Private lawyers work with paralegals, law clerks, investigators, and secretaries who help prepare and investigate your case. At our office, our staff is well-versed in the criminal justice system, and dedicated to helping clients and their loved ones navigate that system. It means more personal, one-on-one attention for you when you have questions.
- Speaking with witness. The police do not have the exclusive right to speak to witnesses. Experienced criminal defense lawyers work to speak to every witness who can help your case, spending hours in depositions and interviews.
- Filing motions. Defense lawyers will file different motions depending on the prosecution’s conduct and the merits of the case. For example, they may file a motion to dismiss because evidence (in the government’s possession) that could have helped to exonerate/free you that not provided in a timely manner.
- Representing you at the preliminary hearing. The preliminary hearing is your chance to discover how strong the prosecution’s case is. In some cases, private lawyers will use the time at the hearing to speak with the prosecution about a possible plea arrangement or a dismissal of the charges.
- Representing you at the trial. Much of the work private lawyers do is the preparation work before trial so that they can make the right legal arguments at trial, cross-examine witnesses, present your case to a jury, and make effective arguments to the judge.
Our experienced Southaven criminal defense lawyers also fight to have convictions overturned by filing meritorious appeals. We represent defendants at sentencing hearings by arguing where we argue your sentence should be as minimal as possible. Fair plea agreements may be justified, and we will discuss this with you if we think this is your best option.
At Taylor Jones Taylor, our Southaven defense lawyers fight aggressively to challenge the government’s case and to help protect your freedoms. When your future is on the line, we are here to help. Please call 662.342.1300 or fill out our contact form. Serving clients in Southaven, Olive Branch, Hernando, and throughout Mississippi.
Benjamin L. Taylor is a lifelong resident of DeSoto County and has distinguished himself in the area of products liability and personal injury law. He has a reputation as a fierce advocate for his clients and has obtained millions of dollars in verdicts and settlements over his career. He has been listed in the publication Super Lawyers of the Mid-South in the area of product liability. To learn more about Mr. Taylor, please refer to his biography page.