As a rule, I would not suggest that anyone take legal advice from an Indie Rock Band, but the above line from the “better get a lawyer” by the Cruel Sea is an exception to that rule. Not only does it emphasize the importance of legal representation but, importantly, it also recognises that not all lawyers are the same. For anyone in trouble with the police, getting advice and representation from a good criminal lawyer, and getting it quickly, can make the difference between going free and doing time in goal. Here are some reasons why:
- A good criminal lawyer can help you make the right decisions early on in the criminal process. If you are a suspect in a criminal investigation, the decisions you make early on, often even before any charges are laid, can have a profound impact on the ultimate outcome of the case. For example, before police lay charges, they usually invite the suspect to provide a statement (referred to as an ERISP). Most people, and many lawyers, have a blanket rule that you should never talk to police. In reality, it is much more complicated than that. Making the wrong decision at this stage can mean the difference between wining and losing the case.
- A good lawyer may be able to persuade the prosecution to drop the case against you or secure a good plea deal. Negotiating with the prosecution is a subtle art form. It’s a matter of knowing the applicable law, knowing what defence evidence to reveal to and what evidence to keep ‘up your sleave’ and understanding when is the best time to negotiate. An expert criminal defence lawyer will know when and how to negotiate with the prosecution to give you the best chance of the charges being dropped or negotiating the best possible deal for you.
- If you end up having to fight the charges in Court, you will need a lawyer who knows how to prepare the evidence in your favour, poke holes in the evidence against you and how to present your case to give you the best possible chance of winning. A good criminal defence lawyer will not only know the technicalities of the criminal and evidence law but will also know how to ague persuasively in Court on your behalf.
- Even if you end up pleading guilty, a good criminal lawyer can make a huge difference to the sentence you receive. Securing the best possible penalty for a person who admits guilt to an offence can be complicated and difficult. The right lawyer will take the time to get to know your personal circumstances, refer you to the right rehabilitation providers and understand the law of sentencing. This should make sure that you receive the most lenient penalty possible.
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