We believe it is important for our clients to get honest and professional advice before making a claim.
The attorney at Law Office of Yanina Tabachnikova answered some of the most common questions for you to review.
If you have any query, call us at 833-440-6464.
When do I need a lawyer for a criminal case?
A defendant almost always should hire a lawyer to handle a criminal case. When so much is at stake, the knowledge and experience accumulated by a professional can make a huge difference. They may be able to recognize problems with the prosecution’s case or available defenses that an ordinary person could not identify. The prosecution can bring substantial resources to pursuing a case, so retaining an attorney is an important way to level the playing field. Even if you plead guilty, they may be able to negotiate a better plea bargain because the prosecution likely will take your position more seriously if you have a lawyer.
Do I need a lawyer even if the prosecution offers a standard plea bargain?
The answer to this can be quite tricky, as it is dependent upon the case, did you commit this crime or not, as well how likely or unlikely you think you might be to be found guilty. The truth is that the answer in most instances is YES, you definitely should have one – if not for the whole process than at least for a few hours to get their opinion after going through the details. Even if the prosecution offers a standard plea bargain for a certain type of crime, you should discuss your situation with a lawyer. Reports that the prosecution offers standard plea bargains may or may not be true, so you may want to benefit from an attorney’s knowledge of the system. Also, you may not be right in assuming that you are guilty. An attorney may be able to identify a defense of which you may not have been aware. Retaining a lawyer may convince the prosecution to give you a better plea deal. At the very least, the attorney can help you make sure that you meet any conditions or requirements imposed by the court.
Can You Change Lawyers in the Middle of Your Trial?
If you are interested in changing lawyers in the midst of your legal battle, and you have hired a private attorney, as long as you get permission from the court system and the judge. However, you may not be allowed to make a change if it would cause an unreasonable delay or undermine the prosecution’s ability to make its case. Hiring a new lawyer may result in additional costs because the defendant will need to pay a certain amount to both lawyers. A defendant does not have a constitutional right to change their public defender, although they can ask the judge for permission. This request is unlikely to succeed, so a defendant may be better served by asking their current attorney if they can change. The attorney may be willing to accommodate this request.
Should I Hire a Public Defender?
A public defender is a fully licensed attorney, and essentially there is no difference between them and a private attorney – however, in some instances, they can be overworked and too much on their plate to give their undivided attention to your case. Some people believe that public defenders offer important advantages to their clients because of their familiarity with the system. These jobs are highly competitive, so public defenders are usually well trained, even if they are less experienced than some private criminal defense attorneys. On the other hand, they are typically overworked and underpaid, so they may not provide the same level of attention as a private attorney.
Should I tell my lawyer the truth, even if I may be guilty?
Yes, this is very important. Your lawyer will need to know about the details of your case to craft an effective defense. You should be honest with the lawyer unless they tell you that they do not want to know specifically what happened, a concern that is probably based on ethical rules. If you tell your lawyer that you are guilty, the lawyer still may construct a defense and urge you to fight the charge. Even if you committed the acts that comprise the crime, the prosecution may not be able to legally prove its case. While it is their decision to represent you or not based on their own feelings, attorneys are bound by a confidentiality, as long as you are their client, they can still can argue that a jury should acquit their client, even if they know that they are guilty.
What is I want to represent myself?
This is generally a very bad idea. A criminal defendant almost always should retain an attorney or at least ask the judge to appoint a public defender for them. There is no substitute for a lawyer’s knowledge of the criminal justice system. However, if a crime comes with minimal penalties and collateral consequences, you may be able to handle the case on your own if absolutely necessary. You should make sure that you understand the short-term and long-term implications of a conviction before making this decision. Even if you decide to proceed without counsel, you may benefit from a consultation with a lawyer to discuss your situation.
Can I be convicted if I did not know that I was committing a crime?
Generally, in most cases, ignorance is not an excuse for committing a crime – so yes, you may still be convicted. Not knowing the law is not a defense to a crime in most situations. It would be hard to make this defense in good faith in many cases, since common crimes tend to be obviously illegal – such as theft, assault, murder, etc.
What is criminal negligence?
Negligence is commonly used in the legal world, as it can lead to a number of civil and criminal charges and actions being committed. It is considered to be a state of mind that is often equated with recklessness in the criminal context. (In the civil context, it usually means carelessness rather than recklessness.) It is a mental state lower than intent or knowledge. Both negligence and recklessness arise when a defendant disregards a substantial risk of harm. Sometimes negligence is distinguished from recklessness on the basis that recklessness involves consciously disregarding a substantial risk, while negligence involves failing to account for a substantial risk of which the defendant should have been aware.
What is considered premeditated?
Premeditated conduct often arises in the context of a first-degree murder charge. Premeditation involves thinking about an act before committing it, while deliberation involves thinking about the consequences of the act and making the decision to commit it. This specifically doesn’t include situations in which an individual acted in the heat of passion, but it does not necessarily mean that no emotion was involved. No specific length of time is required to establish premeditation or deliberation.
What is malice?
Malice is considered to be a more advanced level of intentional action, which may involve cruelty, callousness, or a high degree of deliberation. Usually, it arises in the context of violent crimes in which someone died or suffered serious bodily harm. Malice thus may be defined as an intent to cause death or serious bodily harm to someone, or knowingly causing a high risk of death or serious bodily harm. While sometimes the prosecution can establish malice through the statements of the defendant, it may be established through circumstantial evidence in other cases.
What is the statute of limitations?
The statute of limitations is the period in which the prosecution can bring charges after a crime has been committed.
Can I get an arrest off my record?
In some states, law enforcement will eliminate an arrest from an individual’s record automatically if they are not charged. Sometimes, however, the individual may need to file a formal petition to get a finding of factual innocence. If their petition succeeds, the record of the arrest likely can be sealed. This is important because having an arrest visible to employers and others can have negative consequences.
Is there a difference between sealing and expunging juvenile records?
Not necessarily. Courts often use these terms interchangeably. However, expungement sometimes means the permanent destruction of the records, while sealing may simply mean that the records are made difficult to access (but still exist).
Can I see the criminal record of someone else?
Generally, yes. criminal records are public unless they have been sealed or expunged, and you can search conviction databases through the criminal background searching firms online. They consolidate data from conviction records in courts throughout the country. (The accuracy of these databases is imperfect, and they have been known to make identification errors.)
Is self-defense viable, if I started the fight?
Yes it is, depending on the events that occurred prior. You can use self-defense if you used preventive force in a situation in which a reasonable person would believe that someone else was about to use force. You do not need to wait to be physically struck. The use of preventive force must be limited to what would be necessary to prevent the attack.
Can I use self-defense if I was defending someone else?
Yes, while it isn’t exactly known as self-defense, the action is still viable – and known as the defense of others. A defendant can use this defense if they have a reasonable belief that someone else is in imminent danger of harm. They must use force that is reasonable and proportionate to deal with the danger. Defense of others most often involves defending family members, but it is not limited to this situation.