Can I get a Felony Conviction Reduced to a Misdemeanor?

A felony conviction can have serious repercussions for employment, loans and grants and immigration. With a Proposition 47 Petition, you have a chance at getting your felony reduced to a misdemeanor.

  • Background on Proposition 47

California voters passed this proposition to allow people who had been convicted of certain felonies to have those felonies reduced to misdemeanors.

  • What are some of the types of felonies that work for a reduction under Proposition 47?
  • Certain felonies such as shoplifting, forgery, check fraud, theft , receiving stolen property where the amount was less than $950
  • Is there a deadline on when these petitions can be filed?
  • Yes, consult with your attorney on deadlines and filing requirements.  Typically, the petition must be filed in the original court where you were sentenced.
  • Who is not eligible?
  • If you have had a previous conviction for certain sex offenses (such as rape, child molestation) or certain violent crimes (such a murder, or attempted murder), then you would not be eligible to petition a court for resentencing under Proposition 47.
  • Will there be a hearing? 
  • A hearing is not mandatory, but may be involved.  If you are out of state, contact an attorney about a Proposition 47 reduction.
  • What are my chances?
  • The court will look at whether you satisfy the criteria and then grant the petition unless resentencing you would grant an unreasonable risk of danger to public safety.
  • How many other people have filed these petitions?
  • As reported by NBC Sand Diego back in 2014, thousands of Prop 47 Petitions have been filed.  With the deadline to file fast approaching, now is the time to make a decision if you have been considering filing a Proposition 47 Petition. (See http://www.nbcsandiego.com/news/local/Prop-47-Has-Immediate-Impact-on-SD-Judicial-System-Attorney-281711231.html)

Note:  This article does not list in its entirety the types of crimes for eligibility or ineligibility.  This article is not intended as legal advice.  Rather, it is informative about introductory information regarding Proposition 47 and interested parties are encouraged to seek legal advice from an attorney. 

How to Know When to Strike a Plea Bargain and When to Go to Trial

Deciding what to do when you are facing a criminal charge can be challenging, but taking a step back to analyze your case will help you decide the best course of action for you.  Since each case is different, there are many facts and factors play into a decision this important, but this article will help you think them through.   

  • Do you need to decide yet?

If you were just arrested, you do not need to decide immediately whether to enter a plea or go to trial.  You will have the opportunity to attend hearings prior to trial.  If you qualify, you can request that an attorney be appointed for you.  If you want to hire a private attorney, you will have time to follow through with that.  It is possible obtain a continuance to have additional pre-trial hearings if there is an appropriate reason.  The bottom line is that you shouldn’t feel pressured to decide your case strategy right up front.

  • What are your odds of winning at trial?

You need to look at your odds of winning at trial to decide whether to risk it.  Is there a witness that may recant or may not be available?  Is there a credibility issue that a jury is likely to believe or disbelieve witnesses at trial?  How much technology was involved in creating the evidence against you?  Is a common person likely to find the evidence reliable?  Is the evidence extremely strong, or is there room for doubt?

  • Is the plea bargain really to your advantage?

Remember that the prosecutor is your adversary in this situation.  Look carefully at the deal that is presented.  Is it really valuable to you?  For example, a typical offer the prosecutor may make to every defendant with a DUI charge is that the traffic violation will be dismissed with prejudice.  Is this really a benefit to you?  Can you get more out of a bargain if you wait?

  • What are the policies at play?

A prosecutor is likely under the direction of his or her supervisor, and it is helpful to have the advice of an attorney who knows the prosecutor or the office politics.  Is the prosecutor reluctant or eager to go to trial?  This could determine whether the plea offer gets better or worse as you go along.  Are there restrictions to the prosecutor’s ability to offer you a plea?

  • What sentence is likely under either scenario?

When you are considering a plea vs. trial, you need to know what punishments are likely with each choice.  Make sure you find out all aspects of the prosecutor’s plea.  Don’t just focus on the amount of jail time that will be involved, but also find out what counseling, probation and fines will be included.  Is there a significant difference between the sentence likely under the plea bargain and the sentence likely if you lose for trial?

These are just a few of the many factors that need to be weighed when choosing between a plea bargain and a trial.  Consulting with an experienced criminal defense attorney will typically be helpful to you in making the choice because they can assist in determining the strength of the evidence against you, the extent of advantage the plea bargain really is to you, and the various possibilities for sentencing of the charge if a plea is entered vs. a trial.   

3 Questions You Should Ask Before Hiring a Criminal Defense Attorney

No two attorneys are alike, so you need to take the initiative to ask questions to ensure that the person you will be trusting to represent you is really the right fit for you.  Three questions are essential to discover if this attorney will be the best for you and your case:

  • Do you have the time and experience for this type of case?
  • Time:  Even the best attorney cannot perform well if they don’t have the time resources to dedicate to you.  Make sure that your attorney is comfortable with the time that your case will take and court where your appearances will be made.
  • Experience: If you are facing a criminal charge, you want to confirm that the attorney you are considering has extensive experience in criminal defense.
    • References:  Ask your attorney for references, and follow through to contact the references given.  Find out what advice others have for you about working with this attorney.
  • What strategy do you envision for this case? 
  • Motions, Trial, or Settlement strategy:  Some cases are a good fit for a Motion to Suppress, which basically alleges that the evidence against you should be thrown out because that evidence was obtained by violating your Constitutional rights.  Other cases may be a better fit for trial because the evidence is not sufficient or potential may exist for testimony from witnesses that could help your case.  Other cases might be a good fit for a settlement strategy and sometimes even a cooperation with the prosecution.  There are many good ways to approach a criminal case, so you should find out what this attorney feels is the best approach to decide if that matches up with the approach you had in mind.
  • How will I be billed and what cost should I anticipate?
  • Billing:  Attorneys typical bill with an hourly structure or flat fee.  You will want to find out how you will be billed.  Some attorneys will not give an estimate on the cost of the case, but the more information you can get about the billing, the better you’ll be able to plan.
  • Retainer Agreement:  Many attorneys utilize a retainer agreement, which is just a document that typically outlines what you will pay and what those payments covered.  If you are using a flat fee legal service, you will want to pay particular attention to whether you are billed extra for emails, phone calls, meetings, rescheduled hearings, etc. Under any billing system, you need to look for additional charges for items such as copies, so that you can be prepared for the bills.

Knowledge is power, so take the time to ask these important questions.  Evaluate the answers carefully and do not be afraid to follow up with addition inquiries.  You are the client, which means you are the employer of the attorney for this case, so take the lead in finding out if this person is the right lawyer for you.

3 Ways You Know You Need to Find a New Lawyer

Did you hire an attorney to represent you, and now you are having second thoughts?  Are you wondering how to know if you hired the wrong person?  Here are things to look for when deciding whether you should break ties and find someone new to represent you.  Before you switch attorneys, however, you should always inquire into the retainer and billing and how that change may impact the cost of your case.

1. You Are Not A Priority to This Attorney.  We all know that attorneys have a roster of clients, but every case should be handled with diligence and care.  Take a look at how serious the problem is.  If your attorney is missing hearings or deadlines, then you probably need someone new.  If he or she is consistently late to court, then that is something also to look at.  If your calls or emails are not being returned, then your attorney is not fulfilling their responsibility to communicate with you.  If your attorney talks down to you or pressures you to make a decision you aren’t comfortable with, then those are also signs that you and your attorney may not be a good team.  

2. Your Attorney Doesn’t Know What He or She Is Doing. Even if you were referred to your attorney by a friend or if they are an acquaintance, the relationship is a business one. You have to look out for yourself and make sure that you are being represented by someone who is competent to represent you in this type of case.  Signs to look for:

  • Does your attorney seem to know the system?

Can he or she give you an overview of each step or hearing in your case and what will take place?

  • Does your attorney appear confident?  

Trust your instincts about the level of confidence your attorney displays.   Confidence doesn’t equal competence, but it is one indicator of whether this is your attorney’s first case of this type or 10000th.

  • Does your attorney answer questions?

If your attorney is knowledgeable, he or she will not shy away from questions, but rather, encourage you to ask about anything you don’t know or understand.

Does your attorney know the people?  

Does your attorney seem familiar with other attorneys, court staff, counselors, etc. Professional affiliations are another clue to experience.

3. You can’t Afford Your Attorney. This is a tricky one because the value you get from an attorney is difficult to quantify.  Any attorney is going to be a strain on your budget because divorce, adoption, criminal defense, and so forth are expenses that are unusual and will seem high.  So, the financial discomfort of any attorney is a given and you want someone who is good, which doesn’t come free.  However, some attorneys are better salesmen than lawyers.  Some bill for things that may not be necessary.  Here are some things to look for when deciding if the cost is prohibitive:

  • Are you comfortable with the billing approach?  Would you prefer a flat fee for your case?  Do you prefer hourly?
  • Do you understand the fees and do you understand how to maximize your value? For example, if your attorney bills you a flat fee for every email they read from you, then you may want to consolidate all questions into a short email.  As another example, is your attorney “chatty” such that a phone call will cost you a lot more than email exchanges or is your attorney a bit of a slow writer, such that a call will resolve issues faster than email.  
  • At the end of the day, do you feel like you are getting the full value out of your representation?

Your decision on legal representation should not be taken lightly, as the outcome of your case will impact your life for years to come.  There is no easy answer to whether you should make a change, but the factors to be considered certainly include whether your counsel is giving you the attention you deserve, whether they are competent to represent you in this type of case, and whether you will be able to pay the bill when it’s all said and done.

What Makes the Law Offices of David Knecht Different From Other Vacaville Lawyers

If you are looking for a firm that understands the legal system in Vacaville and the surrounding areas, who is committed to our clients’ success, who has the experience and knowledge to represent you effectively and vigorously, then look no further than the Law Offices of David Knecht.   We have a focused practice to serve you in family law, criminal defense or estate planning, and we have a track record of successful outcomes for our clients.  Please learn more about the services we can offer you:

  1. Vacaville Is Home.  Our office is located in the heart of Vacaville at 500 Main. We serve clients in Vacaville, Fairfield, Dixon, Suisun City, Winters and the Solano County Superior Courts. We are familiar with the law enforcement agencies, judges, and legal community in this area.  We understand the system and will help you navigate it wisely.
  2. We Are Committed to the Long-Term Satisfaction of Our Clients.  Since this is our home, we are not just looking for a quick buck, but we are committed to the long-term satisfaction of our clients and to building the community with excellent legal representation of each individual one. Mr. Knecht was born and raised in California, and he has been serving and protecting Californian’s for over 30 years.   He worked as a police officer and detective in Fullerton, Santa Rosa and Vacaville for over 13 years.  He has continued the tradition of service in his legal practice, focusing on family, wills and trusts, probate and trust administration for over a decade.
  3. Experience, experience, and more experience.   Mr. Knecht has extensive legal experience to represent you with confidence in all the roles that an attorney plays as an advisor, advocate, negotiator, and litigator.  Having been a police officer, a law clerk for judges, and for many years a partner in his own firm, he has represented thousands of clients in estate planning, family law, trust and will litigation, criminal defense, restraining orders and other matters.  He has been the recipient of many awards, achievements and memberships, including the Distinguished Service Award from the City of Santa Rosa for leadership and sustained excellence and admission into the Member of Barristers for the Solano County Criminal Defense Bar Association.
  4. Focused Practice.  At the Law Offices of David Knecht, we don’t try to be jack of all trades, but master of none.  We have focused our practice and honed our experience to understand and serve clients in the specific areas of family law, wills and trusts, probate and trust administration.  
  5. Our Results Speak for Themselves.  Mr. Knecht has had a long history of obtaining successful outcomes for his clients.  Just a few of the past achievements include a family law trial where Mr. Knecht’s client was awarded retroactive child support and over $50,000 in attorney’s fees, a DUI where the charge was reduced to a Wet Reckless with no license suspension, and a Felony Assault Case where the crimes were reduced to a misdemeanor.  While the facts of each case are unique and no one can guarantee the results, the track record of the Law Offices of David Knecht show a consistent pattern of passion, hard work, expertise and diligence in providing legal representation.

 

 

 

How to Help Yourself When Dealing with an Ugly Divorce

Whether you were married a short time or for forever, whether you have kids or no kids, there is no easy divorce.  The end of a marriage is emotionally challenging for all parties involved.  If you have a spiteful spouse or a challenging custody situation, then the emotional toll can be even greater.  This article will give 5 tips on how to help yourself handle the emotional, financial, and physical trauma of an ugly divorce:

  1. Focus on Yourself.  When you are going through a separation or divorce, you need to give yourself permission to focus on you and what can best meet your needs.  This means something different for each individual.  For some, it may mean taking time to get outside and reconnect with nature.  For others, spending the time and money on massage or manicure may be therapeutic.  You may be in a place where you just want to lie in bed and be sad and do nothing.  You need to allow yourself to grieve in your own way.
  2. Take One Day At a Time.  Facing a big life change can be overwhelming.  You may be wondering what will happen with children, finances, property, other assets, common friends, relatives, etc.  Remember that those things will sort themselves out as things evolve and progress.  If you focus on taking one day at a time, trying to accomplish what is necessary to succeed in just that one day, and facing the problems and challenges that arise in just that day, then you’ll be better able to manage the stress of separation or divorce.
  3. Reach Out to Family and Friends.  One emotion many people struggle with in separation or divorce is a feeling of failure or shame, and consequently it’s common for people to shy away from family and friends during the separation or divorce process.  A different perspective may help you overcome those negative emotions.  Consider how many friends and associates you know that are divorced.  Look online to see the statistics on the success rates of relationships.  Take steps to reassure yourself that you are in good company if your marriage did not work out as hoped.  Reach out to family and friends because they love you and will support you through this difficult time.
  4. Talk About Your Feelings.  Throughout the separation or divorce period, you will likely be on a rollercoaster ride of emotions.  Anger, sadness, disappointment, relief, happiness, fear and every other emotion are likely to overcome you at different times in the process.  Take the time to open up to a trusted friend or family member to talk about how you feel.  Try to find someone who is not affiliated with your former spouse, so that you can feel that the person is entirely on your side.  You may want to be cautious of posting your feelings on social media or other public forums, but don’t miss the chance to discuss with a therapist, group, good friend, or family member.

 

  • Focus on a Bright Future.  Although seeing a bright future may be challenging right now, when you are grieving over what was lost, you may find benefit in sitting down and making a list of positive thoughts, goals, and feelings.  Consider a new hobby to take up. Think about dreams that were previously unfulfilled that may be an available opportunity now. Realize that the growth that you will experience through this challenge will make you a stronger, more empathetic person.

Separation and divorce are tough, but if you concentrate on taking care of yourself, living one day at a time, reaching out to family and friends, sharing feelings and focusing on a bright future, you will find that you can achieve greatness in this difficult time.

5 Things Most People Do Wrong When Selecting an Attorney

You know that your decision about legal representation is very important not only for the outcome of your case, but for your emotional and mental well-being in the process.  In your quest to find the best person for the best price, make sure that you don’t fall into these 5 pitfalls of mistakes people often make when selecting an attorney:

 

  • Not asking Enough Questions

 

People often fall into one of two categories:  Either they are a little intimidated by the legal system and afraid to ask questions, or they want to appear confident and knowledgeable, and so they don’t reach out with questions.  Don’t fall into this trap.  You need to ask questions, take notes, and make sure you understand every aspect of your legal representation.  Remember to ask:

  • Who will be handling my case?
    • The partner or an associate?
  • What experience does this attorney have in this particular case?
  • Would you consider it a complex or simple case?
  • How will I be billed?
  • Can you estimate the cost of this matter?
  • What is the most effective and cost efficient way to communicate with my attorney?
    • Phone calls, emails, coordinating with staff?
  • What evidence will need to be preserved and how should I preserve it?  

 

 

  • Failing to Examine Other Clients’ Results

 

Each case is unique, and a good outcome for another client doesn’t necessarily guarantee a great outcome for you because the facts and circumstances are different.  However, it is important to see what results other clients had to give you an idea of the level of experience an attorney has, and how satisfied other clients were with the representation.  A great firm will often post these results on their own website.  (See for example, http://www.davidknechtlaw.com/results/).  

  1. Not researching the practice areas of the potential attorney.  

In medicine, people are generally aware that you should find the right specialist – for example, you wouldn’t go to a podiatrist for brain surgery. You should certainly consider the practice areas of the attorneys you are considering.  Many attorneys will list their practice areas on their website.  (See for example, http://www.davidknechtlaw.com/practice-areas/).  If an attorney doesn’t list practice areas, you should ask how many cases of your type that attorney has handled.  You should be wary of attorney who is reluctant to identify practice areas because their reluctance may indicate a lack of experience in any one area.

  1. Skipping over the references.

It is surprising how many people hire an attorney without checking references.  You can use social media to crowd source the answer.  Some people post on Facebook asking for recommendations.  Others contact friends directly who have faced similar legal issues for advice.  If you are reluctant to make your search for an attorney public, another good sources of reference is the attorney himself/herself.  You can check the website.  (See for example, http://www.davidknechtlaw.com/testimonials/).  You can also ask the attorney if they would feel comfortable having you talk to a previous client.  Do your homework, and don’t forget references.

 

  • Choosing based only on cost.

 

While cost is a factor in your decision-making process, it should not be the only factor.  Some people are tempted to go with the cheapest attorney, only to find out that the bill adds up.  Others go with the most expensive attorney, assuming that cost correlates with successful outcomes.  The reality is that cost should be a consideration, but the attorney’s reputation, references, and experience should all weigh into your final determination as to who is best for you.

 

Looking for the Right Vacaville Attorney?  3 Reasons to Give Us a Call

At the Law Offices of David W. Knecht, we focus our practice on Family Law (including Divorce, Child Custody, Child Support), Criminal Law (including Juvenile Court, DUI), and Estate Planning (including Wills, Living Trusts, Durable Powers of Attorney, and Advance Health Care Directives).  Why choose us for your most important legal needs?

1. Your family is important to us. Born and raised in California, David. W. Knecht has been serving and protecting Californian’s for over thirty years. He is invested in the community and cares about each individual client. You will not be lost in the hands of a brand new associate or paralegal staff. You can expect a meeting with an experienced attorney personally to discuss the possible outcomes of your case. In developing legal strategy, we are mindful of offering cost-effective legal solutions. We maintain close communication with clients concerning legal expensive and counsel clients on less costly alternative means. Our mission is clear:  fight for you, be available to you, seek the most efficient course of action, and serve you.                                                                                                                              

2. We know the system. Mr. Knecht has a background that gives him unique insight into the legal system.  

  • We know the law enforcement system:  Mr. Knecht worked as a police officer and detective for the cities of Fullerton, Santa Rosa and Vacaville for 13 years.  
  • We know the judicial system: While still in law school, Mr. Knecht worked as a law clerk for attorney Robert C. Fracchia in Vacaville and attorney Daniel J. Healy in Vallejo. Both Judge Fracchia and Judge Healy are now sitting judges in the Solano County Superior Court. After graduating from law school and passing the bar exam, Mr. Knecht worked for attorney E. Bradley Nelson in Vacaville. Judge Nelson is now a sitting judge in the Solano County Superior Court.
  • We know the legal system. Mr. Knecht has been in practice for over 10 years, and has represented thousands of clients in estate planning, family law, trust and will litigation, criminal defense, restraining orders, and other matters since opening his own office in Vacaville, California in 2007.

3. Experience matters.  You’ll want an attorney who has the experience to answer your questions and guide you to a favorable outcome:

  • Family Law. We understand the stress that family law matters can place on your loved ones and finances. We conduct ourselves professionally to minimize conflict, we seek solutions that are in the best interest of the children, and we help our clients set appropriate but firm boundaries. We remain focused on practical matters and advise you based on our experience of helping hundreds of other families.
  • Criminal Law. Mr. Knecht defends juveniles and adults accused in the Solano County, Napa County, and Yolo County Superior Courts of all felony, misdemeanor, DUI and other criminal offenses. He has represented over 400 criminal defendants in the last three years alone. He has an excellent record of success and is focused on getting the results you need. You can depend on him to fight for you every step of the way.
  • Estate Planning. We understand that you’ve worked a lifetime to acquire wealth and protecting and preserving your assets is important for you and your family. Mr. Knecht helps trustees and executors administer trusts and probates, and he will spend time with you explaining the process and tasks involved in successfully administering a trust or probate estate. For wills and revocable trusts, Mr. Knecht will meet with you to discuss your situation and whether or not a revocable or living trust is right for you to achieve goals including probate avoidance, federal estate tax minimization, and greater flexibility in creating distribution plans for specific beneficiaries.   

Give us a call today to find out how we can help you with your divorce, DUI, estate planning, or other legal needs.  We will listen to you, answer your questions, and provide high quality, experienced representation for your case.

 

How To Win Your DUI Case

When preparing to fight a DUI charge, remember that you are presumed innocent and you have a right to question any evidence, testimony, test results, or assumptions that is presented by the prosecution against you.  This article will address some of the areas of the prosecution’s case against you that may be susceptible to attach.  This isn’t an all-inclusive list, but it will give you a good start in developing a strategy to identify reasonable doubt and win your DUI case.

  1. The Stop.  In order to pull you over, and officer must have reasonable suspicion that you are violating the law.  If the officer pulls you over based on your race or just a “hunch,” then you can file a Motion to Suppress.  In a nutshell, a Motion to Suppress is where you argue that the stop itself violated your Constitutional rights, and therefore the evidence against you should be thrown out.  Police officers are trained to document facts that lead to reasonable suspicion in their reports, so a Motion to Suppress is often an uphill battle, but sometimes officers make mistakes.  It’s worth looking at the stop because if you win on the Motion, that typically means victory on the whole DUI case.
  1. Challenge the BAC.  If your breath or blood tests show a blood alcohol level of .08 or higher, you will need to find a way to call into question the results of these tests.
  • Rising Blood Alcohol Defense – The key point here is that the .08 level has to be at the time you were driving.  The theory of this defense is that alcohol takes time to absorb into the blood stream.  The results of a breath or blood test could be higher during the test than during the operation of the vehicle, based on a variety of factors:
    • How much food has the person eaten?  (Food tends to slow down absorption)
    • Is the driver male or female? (A woman’s BAC may rise higher than a man’s)
  • Medical Problem Defense.  The key point here is whether you have a medical problem that would render the results inaccurate.
  • Do you have a medical condition such as asthma or emphysema that affects your lung capacity and ability to blow into a machine?
  • Question the reliability of the testing procedures.
  • Was the testing device calibrated and tested?
  • Was the person giving the test trained on the device?
  • How many times did you “blow” and were the results consistent or varied from each other?
  • Were you observed prior to the DUI?
  • Eating, drinking, smoking, vomiting, burping, etc. can all impact test results.

 

  1. Fight the Officer’s Observations and Field Sobriety Tests.
  • Speech impediment or Injury.  Do you have a speech impediment or other condition that could account for an officer’s observation of slurred speech?  Do you have a health condition that would prevent you from understanding or complying with the tests?
  • Weather conditions.  Was there wind, rain, snow, etc. that could have affected your ability to hear the officer’s instructions and comply with them?
  • Look at the National Highway Traffic Administration’s procedures to see whether the tests were administered properly.  If the officer did not properly conduct the tests, or if correct instructions were not given, then you can question the reliability of the conclusions drawn from the tests.

Your defense will be as specific as your facts, as each DUI case is unique, but this guide will assist you in finding and taking advantage of the weaknesses in the prosecution’s case against you.

Should I Hire a Criminal Defense Attorney?

If you are facing criminal charges, you may be looking at your bills and wondering if you can afford an attorney or if it’s worth hiring one.  A criminal conviction can come with a heavy financial impact, which can include fines imposed by the court, fees for counseling or treatment, the burden of lost wages if jail time is involved, and higher auto insurance costs if the offense was driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs.  This article cites studies and surveys for the proposition that

  • Attorney vs. Self-Representation – In a famous case, Gideon v. Wainwright, Justice Black reasoned:  “fair trials before impartial tribunals  in which ever defendant stands equal before the law . . . cannot be realized if the poor man charged with crime has to face his accusers without a lawyer to assist him.”  This quote emphasizes the importance of an attorney in a criminal case.

 

Survey Responses Show Better Outcomes with an Attorney than Pro Se

  • Respondents in a survey published at the site below indicated a high DUI conviction rate for defendants who represented themselves.  See  http://criminal.lawyers.com/dui-dwi/does-using-a-dui-lawyer-give-you-a-better-outcome.html
  • Private Attorneys vs. Public Defenders – If you at an income level to qualify for a public defender, but you have family or others who are willing to contribute to you defense, you may be wondering if a private attorney would be more effective in representing you.  According to at least a few studies, the answer to that question is yes, private attorneys — statistically speaking – obtain much better outcomes for their clients than public defenders.

 

Studies Show Better Outcomes with Private Attorneys

  • Results indicate that defendants with public defenders are more likely to be detained pretrial, more likely to be convicted, and less likely to have their cases dismissed.”

(Excerpt from a study published in the Journal of Criminal Justice, a summary of which can be found here, http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0047235213000366)

  • …studies suggest that having appointed counsel negatively affects case outcomes, such as conviction and sentencing, in that those with appointed counsel are more likely to be convicted and/or sentenced to longer incarceration terms.”

(Excerpt from a study about the effect of attorney type on bail hearings, which can be found at http://journals.sagepub.com/doi/abs/10.1177/0887403414562603)

  • Other Considerations –There are many other considerations that you will need to weigh to decide whether to hire an attorney, whether to request a public defender, or whether to represent yourself.  A safe approach to take is to at least consult with an attorney initially, and then to decide the best course of action from there.  Some factors you might consider include:

 

  • How serious is the offense?
  • Am I innocent?
  • Would I prefer to go to trial, or would I be more comfortable with a plea deal?
  • What will be the financial burden of a guilty plea or conviction?
  • What resources, side income, or family to help defray the cost of an attorney?

The decision about whether to seek representation is a very important one, and your selection of an attorney is also critical to your success, and this resource can help you think through some of the initial steps of preparing your criminal defense.