Criminal Defense Law
What to do if you're facing criminal charges
Criminal defense law is a legal branch which is concerned with the defense of individuals or companies charged with criminal offenses. Unlike civil law, which is put into effect by private citizens, criminal law (called "penal law" in some countries) is solely the domain of government.
If you are arrested on a criminal charge, it is important for you to uphold and observe your rights. In the United States, these are called "Miranda rights," and they are guaranteed to all persons under federal criminal law. They include the right to remain silent and a warning that anything the arrested individual says while in custody can (and will) be used against them at their criminal trial. Furthermore, all persons facing criminal charges have the right to legal representation; if they are unable to afford a lawyer, a public defender will be appointed on their behalf.
Important Issues in Criminal Law
Criminal charges are subject to statutes of limitation, meaning that you must be charged within a certain amount of time after the offense was allegedly committed. These statutes of limitation vary significantly from place to place and crime to crime, and they tend to be longer for serious crimes (attempted murder, murder, sexual assault, etc.).
Since criminal defense lawyers specialize in all aspects of the criminal law process, from the apprehension, detainment and arrest of the suspect to any and all property searches, it is highly advisable to contact one as soon as possible after you are charged. You'll have a much better chance at defending yourself successfully if you have a lawyer involved early in the process.
The Cost of Defending Yourself Against a Criminal Charge
Public defenders are available to people who are unable to meet the cost of hiring a private criminal attorney. While many public defenders are newly minted law school graduates who want to broaden their experience with courtroom trials, there are also dedicated and experienced public defenders out there. However, your ability to choose your own attorney will be strictly limited if you are retaining a public defender for your trial.
If you want to hire a private criminal lawyer, you can expect legal fees to total into the thousands or even tens of thousands of dollars, depending on the nature of the crime and the length and complexity of the trial. However, many criminal lawyers do not charge initial consultation fees, so there's usually no risk or obligation involved in speaking with one.