This article covers the following topics:
A Brief Introduction to the Criminal Justice System in the United States
The United States criminal justice system is responsible for enforcing the legal codes throughout the country. There are state-wise variations in these codes. Yet, the general principles of serving justice to the victim and punishment to the convict are more or less the same across the country.
The criminal justice system is a three-layered structure in the US, comprising the police, the courts, and the correctional facilities. Among these three, the police and the courts are the institutions that one need to necessarily face if charged with a crime.
It is useful to know that the police system in the US is multi-layered. Each division has its set jurisdiction. The Federal Police officers work under different Federal Government agencies such as the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI); the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF); and the Department of Homeland Security or the DHS. These Federal officers can only deal with matters overseen by the Federal Government.
The day-to-day policing services such as responding to emergency calls and patrolling the area come under the purview of the county police. It comes under the authority of the state police to enforce laws across the state, including matters relating to the violation of traffic or highway laws.
Once the police register a crime and identify the alleged perpetrator, the case moves to court. For the hearing of a criminal case, the US judiciary has three provisions: the trial courts, the appellate courts, and the Supreme court.
First, a trial court with general jurisdiction hears a criminal case. The hearings are generally presided over by a judge and a jury. While it is usually incumbent upon the jury to decide whether an accused is guilty or not, the judge determines the quantum of punishment or penalty.
Why Choose a Criminal Lawyer?
It is evident that the Criminal Justice system, like any other area of law, has an intricate design. To successfully navigate through the alleyways of criminal law, one needs to be well aware of the rules as well as the procedures followed in the courtroom. The intricacies and possible implications of the language used during the proceedings also become quite difficult for a commoner to gauge beforehand.
No matter how smart and well-read you are, the gaps between paper and practice that have existed for years make self-representation significantly less viable.
According to industry estimates, the percentage of the accused population who choose to self-represent themselves in a criminal case goes well below 1%.
Therefore, if you are facing an accusation of a crime, lawyers are a must-have option. But, at the same time, you should also be aware of the services and benefits you should expect from your attorney. It helps to keep track of which way things are going and whether your lawyer is on the correct path to get justice for you.
The power of the prosecutor is wide-ranging. It is incumbent upon the prosecutorial decision to determine whether to file criminal charges in a case and, if yes, then what charges to file. These decisions help a lot to determine the outcome of the case. There are several other benefits that the deployment of a criminal lawyer can bring. Below is the list of all these benefits to help you comprehend and assess why you need a criminal lawyer.
Benefits of Hiring a Criminal Lawyer
#1. Assists in Steering Through the Nuances of the Case
- What defines and constitutes a crime is not a single rule or statute. What constitutes a crime involves an intricate web of rules statutes and guidelines described in the Criminal Code, the Criminal Procedure Act, the Crimes Act, the Evidence Act, and the Sentencing Act. To successfully steer through the nuances of the case, one needs to have comprehensive theoretical knowledge of these laws as well as the experiential knowledge of how to apply them. It saves a lot of time and stress if a commoner deploys a professional lawyer who is well aware of how the law works.
#2. Saves you From Premature Implications
- There are many implications of criminal accusations. One may lose employment or face discrimination while applying for a job with an ongoing trial attached to one’s name. One might have his or her DNA sent to the police database or get his or her driving license or other necessary documents canceled if the case is not dealt with rightly. There are risks as high as being sent to prison with false or incorrect charges. Therefore, it is always a prudent decision to start consulting a professional attorney from day zero. It saves from premature implications even before the case gets to explore all its chances of getting a fair and just trial.
#3. Prepares you for Police Interview
- What plays a crucial role in determining the future outcome of a criminal case is the police interview. Unguided and unsure responses during a police interview may end up in false implications. One should also be aware of one’s rights during an investigation. It is always an intelligent choice to employ a criminal law expert during such police interviews.
#4. Drafts a Proper and Effective Bail Application
- If you mess up with your bail application, you may get custody remand even when you wait for the charges to get final. A rejected bail plea also implies getting barred from having a re-hearing of the application unless a notable change of circumstances arises. An experienced criminal lawyer ensures that the bail application is proper and effective.
#5. Ensures you are well-prepared for Interrogation
- One who represents himself in the court in a criminal case often suffers from not knowing the correct ways of cross-interrogation. Interrogating the witnesses is a specific skill set that one acquires with experience. Incorrect line of questioning falls prey to frequent interruptions from the prosecution. An experienced criminal lawyer knows how to deal with a witness judiciously. A professional lawyer also knows how to defend his or her line of questioning as relevant and required.
#6. Helps in Building a Strong Premise
- Winning a criminal case is as much about building a strong premise for oneself as much as it is about exposing the loopholes in the prosecution’s arguments. In the case of self-representation, most of the attention lies on safeguarding the self, whereas, a professional attorney can expose the ill motives that drive the charges framed against his or her client.
#7. Keeps you Immune From External Perceptions
- The perception of society around certain criminal proceedings often plays a role in determining the outcome. Attempts to satisfy the collective conscience prompts the police system or the judiciary to overlook aspects that otherwise could have changed the course of the case. A seasoned attorney brings a resolve to stay immune from such external perceptions and drives the focus back on the factualities.
Overall, the presence of a good and experienced lawyer goes a long way in making or breaking a case. It’s years of experience and knowledge of how the judiciary works that becomes key. Proper guidance on what to say and what facts to bring to the fore is what decides the winner. Therefore, it is always prudent to go along with an attorney rather than opting for self-representation.
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