A criminal conviction can change your life. If you are convicted of a criminal offense, you can potentially lose your liberty by serving time in prison or on probation, suffer financially through paying fines, restitution, and surcharges, lose certain rights like the right to own firearms and the right to vote, and suffer a damaged social and professional reputation from the stigma attached to being a convicted criminal.
A criminal charge is not a conviction. When you are charged with a crime, you are formally accused of committing a specific offense – but you will not face the penalties discussed above unless and until the court finds you to be guilty of the crime beyond a reasonable level of doubt. This is where an effective legal defense strategy comes into play. Through your legal defense strategy, you can demonstrate your innocence to the court. Work with an experienced criminal defense lawyer to develop a defense strategy tailored to your case. Though many others have faces and currently face your charge, your case is unique. An effective defense strategy is as unique as your case’s circumstances.
Our team works with individuals facing the following types of criminal charge:
Our team works with adults facing criminal charges as well as juveniles facing juvenile charges. Juvenile cases are handled by the Division of Juvenile Corrections, a separate division of the Wisconsin Department of Corrections.
Additionally, our team helps individuals have their criminal records expunged. An expungement is the legal process of having a charge removed from the public version of your criminal record, so prospective employers and others cannot see it on routine background checks.
A critical part of effectively defending your case against a criminal charge is knowing and exercising your civil and constitutional rights. You have these rights at every stage of the criminal justice process, from the moment you are arrested through the trial process, and while you are incarcerated or under supervision. These rights include:
If you are found guilty and you feel the law was somehow misapplied to your case, you also have the right to appeal the court’s decision to potentially have it overturned. You also have the right to request have certain pieces of evidence removed from the trial if you feel they were obtained illegally. Your lawyer can explain all of your rights to you in greater detail and advise you about when to invoke certain specific rights while you are in custody, while you are preparing for your trial, and while you are on trial.
You can represent yourself in court. This is known as pro se representation. This is not the recommended course of action, though, because you are not a criminal defense lawyer and thus do not have the knowledge and experience necessary to effectively defend your case against a criminal charge. And even if you are a criminal defense lawyer, you will benefit from having another lawyer represent your case because he or she is detached from it in a way that you cannot be.
Your lawyer will examine your case thoroughly to determine the right defense strategy to use. Your defense might hinge on the lack of evidence linking you to an incident that occurred or overwhelming evidence that shows that you were not the individual who committed the offense. He or she can work with you to obtain the evidence you need and make full use of it.
Your lawyer will also advise you about how to interact with law enforcement and the court. He or she can help you prepare for your deposition and for your courtroom appearance by walking you through how to answer the questions you will likely face. He or she can also advise you on the actions to take at key junctions in the criminal justice process, such as whether accepting a plea deal is the right choice for you.
When you are charged with a criminal offense, work with an experienced criminal defense lawyer to fight the charge and potentially have it downgraded or dismissed. In nearly every instance, working with a criminal defense lawyer will result in a better outcome for you than you would have if you had represented yourself, even if you are ultimately found guilty of a criminal offense. To learn more about working with a criminal defense lawyer and to start developing your defense strategy, contact our team at Hammett, Bellin & Oswald, LLC today to schedule your initial legal consultation with us.