FAQ Criminal Defense
- Do criminal defense attorneys represent only criminals?
- What is the difference between a criminal defense attorney and any other attorney?
- When should a person consult a criminal defense attorney?
- How do I ensure that my case maintains confidentiality? How important is this?
A person needn’t be a “criminal” in order to benefit from consulting a criminal defense attorney. Many of our clients have never previously been in trouble with the law and will never be again. Often, people come to our office because they made a mistake which the law qualifies as a “criminal” offense. Other times people hire me to expunge a past criminal record. Still others seek representation because they are under suspicion of committing a criminal act, while in fact they committed no crime at all.
In order to perform at a high level of skill and expertise, professionals of all kinds have found it necessary and desirable to specialize. If you have a foot problem, you do not go to an eye doctor. Likewise, a person facing a criminal charge should consult an attorney who focuses on criminal defense! Attorneys have found it advantageous to emphasize certain practice areas. As a patient benefits from the care of a doctor devoted to the study of skin, so does a person facing a criminal charge benefit from the counsel of a criminal defense attorney.
Law school provides a broad legal education. The Bar Exam and other licensing standards are designed to ensure that attorneys meet only general requirements. Attorneys who practice in the area of criminal defense attend highly specialized training programs sponsored by such organizations as the National Association of the Criminal Defense Lawyers and the Oregon Criminal Defense Lawyers Association.
The ideal time to consult a criminal defense attorney is the moment a person finds himself under legal suspicion, because at that point there is the greatest likelihood of a successful outcome. A person who is suspected of criminal wrongdoing needs crucial information in order to minimize the risk of being formally arrested and brought to court. Prior to charges being filed, there is the maximum possibility that a skilled criminal defense attorney can resolve the situation with minimal adverse consequences to the client.
I have practiced in the area of criminal defense since 1982, both in the trial and appellate courts. I have seen countless instances in which clients benefit from early hiring of experienced legal counsel. I also have seen many situations in which individuals have been harmed by their failure to consult a qualified attorney at an early stage.
For criminal defense attorneys, it is thrilling to fight a case all the way to trial and have our efforts rewarded when the jury announces a verdict of Not Guilty. However, the client benefits even more when early hiring of a skilled and experienced criminal defense attorney results in no charges being filed at all, or where the charges can be resolved at an early stage that spares the client and his family of the humiliation and expense that results whenever a case proceeds through the criminal justice system.
There are few relationships that enjoy the legal protection afforded to the attorney-client relationship. In our legal system, an individual under suspicion of committing a criminal act needs to consult with a professional with assurance of complete confidentiality. Our law does not grant any assurance of this high level of confidentiality between a parent and a child nor to many other relationships often deemed private. It is in your best interest to speak to a lawyer when facing criminal charges.