If you are facing a criminal charge in Alaska, now is not the time to take chances. A conviction could mean fines and jail time, and having a criminal record could negatively impact your life for years – if not decades – come. Yet, if you are like many people who have been arrested, you might still be wondering, “Is it really worth it to hire a defense lawyer to represent me?”
While it is true that you will need to pay for your legal representation, it is also true that hiring an attorney costs a fraction of what it will cost if you make mistakes during your criminal case. While hiring a criminal defense attorney does not guarantee a better outcome, there are many ways an attorney can help you, and you are far less likely to face a wrongful conviction or an unjust sentence if you have an attorney representing you in court.
Here are 10 examples of ways that a defense lawyer can help with your Alaska criminal case:
1. Determining Whether You Have Broken the Law
When facing criminal charges, one of the first things you need to know is whether you have actually broken the law. The fact that you were arrested does not mean that you committed a crime. In order to make informed decisions about your defense strategy, you need to know whether the charges against you are supported by Alaska law.
2. Determining Whether the Police Violated Your Constitutional Rights
While being innocent is one way to avoid a guilty verdict (as long as you can convince the judge or jury), it is not the only way to defend yourself in court. If the police violated your constitutional rights, then you may be entitled to an acquittal regardless of whether you committed a crime.
Did the police stop you without reasonable suspicion? Did they arrest you without probable cause? Did they interrogate you in custody without reading your Miranda rights? These are just a few examples of constitutional violations that can serve as defenses to criminal charges in Alaska.
3. Determining Whether the Prosecutor's Office has Violated Your Constitutional Rights
In addition to constitutional violations by the police, constitutional violations by the prosecutor's office can provide defenses to criminal charges as well. Some examples of prosecutorial misconduct include withholding evidence, tampering with witnesses, and making improper remarks in front of the jury.
4. Determining What Other Defenses You Have Available
Did someone plant drugs or a weapon on you without your knowledge? Did you act in self-defense? Were you otherwise justified in doing what you did? These are just a few examples of numerous possible defenses to criminal charges in Alaska. The defenses you can use to fight your charges will depend on the specific facts of your case; and, in order to identify these defenses, you will need to work closely with an experienced criminal defense attorney.
5. Negotiating for a Plea Bargain on Your Behalf
Depending on the facts of your case, it could be in your best interests to negotiate a plea bargain. If it is, then you will need an experienced attorney to negotiate with the prosecutor's office on your behalf.
6. Helping You Decide Whether to Testify
If a favorable plea bargain is not on the table, or if you are entitled to a “not guilty” verdict and need to fight your charges at trial, you will need to decide whether to testify in court. While testifying on your own behalf can be advantageous in certain circumstances, it can be risky in others. In order to decide whether you should take the stand, you will need to consider allof the relevant factors with the help of an experienced criminal defense attorney.
7. Helping You Decide Whether to Request a Jury Trial
In addition to deciding whether to testify, you will also need to decide whether to request a jury trial. Here, too, there are both benefits and risks associated with asserting your legal rights. If requesting a jury trial will give you the best chance of walking free, then you will want to do it. However, if you will be better off having your case tried by a judge, then requesting a jury trial could prove to be a costly mistake.
8. Representing You During Pre-Trial Court Proceedings
When you are arrested for a crime in Alaska, your trial is not the first time you will need to appear in court. Hiring an attorney to represent you will allow you to avoid making mistakes in the courtroom. If you hire an attorney early in your case, your attorney can also file motions and take other steps in order to try to achieve a favorable pre-trial resolution.
9. Representing You During Your Criminal Trial
10. Seeking a Reduced Sentence and/or Filing an Appeal if Necessary
Finally, if it is not possible for you to avoid a conviction, your lawyer can fight to obtain a reduced sentence. Depending on the circumstances of your case, this could mean the difference between spending years in prison and serving probation. An experienced criminal defense lawyer can also help ensure that all available grounds for appealing your conviction are preserved.
This list is not exclusive, but rather reflects some of the most basic ways in which an experienced defense attorney can help during a criminal case in Alaska. For more information about how Alaska criminal defense attorney Eric Derleth can help you given the circumstances of your particular case, schedule a free consultation today.
Schedule a Free Consultation with Alaska Criminal Defense Attorney Eric Derleth
If you have been charged with a crime in Anchorage, Kenai, or Soldotna, we encourage you to contact us promptly to learn more about what criminal defense attorney Eric Derleth can do to help. To discuss your case with Mr. Derleth in confidence, call 907-262-9164 now.