If you face criminal charges in Canton, you likely understand how much is on the line. Even without incarceration, the consequences of a criminal conviction can follow you for the rest of your life. The foundation of our legal system and nation is liberty and justice for all. To ensure that promise, we have certain constitutional rights in America. One of our criminal justice system’s foundational principles is that every person is innocent of a crime until proven guilty in a court of law. Criminal defense attorneys’ primary goal is to ensure that authorities abide by this notion.
The best way to beat a criminal charge and prove your innocence is to fight it with every tool available. If you face criminal charges in Canton, the most effective tool you can have on your side is a skilled criminal defense attorney. An experienced criminal defense attorney in Canton, Ohio, will help ensure that the criminal justice system respects your constitutional rights. You may feel alone, but you don’t have to be.
How a Criminal Defense Attorney Can Help
A criminal defense attorney in Canton, Ohio, can help you in several ways if you face a criminal charge. Protecting your rights while under investigation and negotiating on your behalf are just a couple of ways defense attorneys help people facing criminal charges.
Advising on Your Rights
A criminal defense attorney can advise you of your rights, so you can ensure they are not violated. This is particularly important during the investigation phase of criminal proceedings. Police sometimes use harsh interrogation tactics to get people who face criminal accusations to admit to a crime. This can happen even when someone is entirely innocent of the alleged crime. You have the constitutional right to refuse to answer police investigators’ questions, but it can be hard to enforce this right when you are alone. Having a defense attorney on your side when speaking with the police will help ensure that you do not fall victim to unethical interrogation tactics.
A criminal defense attorney will also help to ensure that investigators do not violate your rights in other parts of an investigation. Police investigators need to follow certain rules, and a criminal defense attorney will ensure that they do so. If they do not follow the investigation rules, a good criminal defense attorney will identify the illegal behavior.
If a lawyer shows illegal behavior during police investigations, your case may be thrown out entirely. For example, if investigators obtain a key piece of evidence illegally, that evidence will not be valid in court. If it’s an essential piece of evidence, the case against you may fall apart.
Negotiating on Your Behalf
There are several ways that a criminal defense attorney can help you by negotiating on your behalf. Negotiations are constant throughout criminal justice proceedings. An experienced defense attorney can help you negotiate for bail after an initial arrest so you do not have to face pretrial detention. Your attorney can also often negotiate for a lower bail than is initially proposed.
If you face serious criminal charges, your defense attorney can try to negotiate a plea bargain. A plea bargain occurs when a prosecuting attorney agrees to drop a severe charge in exchange for a guilty plea on a lesser charge. A plea bargain can mean the difference between a felony and a misdemeanor in some cases.
Negotiating is a part of a criminal defense attorney’s job from the pretrial phase through the sentencing phase of criminal proceedings. Outside of extraordinary circumstances, judges do not typically punish people convicted of a crime with the maximum allowable sentence. Your defense attorney can negotiate with the judge to lessen your sentence by pointing to mitigating factors. Mitigating factors, as opposed to aggravating factors, lessen the severity or culpability of a crime. For example, not having a prior criminal record is a common mitigating factor that defense attorneys point to. Another common mitigating factor is a mental or physical disability. These factors don’t mean that someone did not commit a crime. They just lessen the severity of the crime in the eyes of the law.
Felonies vs. Misdemeanors in Ohio
Like all US states, Ohio law splits criminal charges into two main categories: felony and misdemeanor. Felonies are the more severe of the two. As such, the penalties for felonies tend to be much higher than those for misdemeanors. Ohio splits both felonies and misdemeanors into 5 levels, or degrees, based on the crime’s seriousness. The penalties follow the same pattern.
For misdemeanors, the amount of jail time ranges from no jail time for minor misdemeanors to a maximum of 180 days for a level 1 misdemeanor. Similarly, the fines range from a max of $150 for minor misdemeanors to a max of $1,000 for level 1 felonies. Incarceration for misdemeanors occurs in city or county jails.
For felony charges in Ohio, the maximum penalties are more severe. A 5th degree felony brings a maximum incarceration time of 12 months. The max fine at 5th degree is $2,500. At the ceiling of felony charges are level 1 felonies. A 1st degree felony, brings incarceration of up to 11 years. The maximum fine for a 1st degree felony is $20,000.
Additionally, some of the most serious felonies, such as aggravated murder, are unclassified. They can carry sentences up to life in prison and fines up to $25,000.
For felony charges, incarceration occurs in state penitentiaries (prisons).
Other Consequences of a Criminal Conviction
The penalties that a state imposes as a result of a criminal conviction there are not always the only ones. Individuals with criminal records may find it difficult to obtain employment. A conviction may also lead to job loss. Those that miss work due to jail time are at particular risk of losing their job.
If you have any sort of ongoing custody battle or conditional custody at the time of conviction, you may lose your child custody rights. Criminal convictions can also make it difficult to obtain mortgages and other loans. Similarly, a period of incarceration may cause you to fall behind on payment of debts and bills to disastrous effect. The best way to avoid these penalties is to fight the criminal charge with an experienced criminal defense lawyer.
Criminal Defense Attorneys vs. Public Defenders
One of the most common questions that people facing criminal charges have is, Why should I hire a criminal defense attorney if the state will provide me with a public defender? While public defenders serve an essential role in the criminal justice system, a private criminal defense attorney is more effective at delivering results for their clients. Here are three reasons why a private defense attorney is more effective: time, resources, and accessibility.
One reason why a private criminal defense attorney can deliver better results for their clients than public defenders is they have more time. Public defenders often serve a considerable amount of clients at once. With a busy caseload, public defenders can dedicate only a small amount of time to each of their clients. Conversely, private criminal defense attorneys can manage their caseload more effectively. A defense attorney’s reputation rests upon delivering results for their clients, which serves as an incentive to spend as much time as necessary working on each case they handle. By spending more time on a case, they can spend more time crafting their arguments and, generally, more effectively prepare for their defense.
Private criminal defense attorneys also have more resources at their disposal than public defenders. Public defenders have resources, but they are inherently limited. Private criminal defense attorneys can hire expert witnesses, private investigators, and other legal personnel to help them on any given case. With more help at their disposal, they can build a much stronger defense.
The best way for a criminal defense attorney to prepare an effective defense is to know the case’s ins and outs. One way that attorneys learn the minute details, which may be essential to the case in the end, is by speaking with their client, witnesses, or others involved in the case. A public defender may meet a given client once or just a few times. However, with their limited time, the amount of times they can speak with a given client is limited. Conversely, someone with a private criminal defense attorney has access to their attorney whenever they need it. Even if they are in jail, their attorney is a phone call away and has a limited caseload. If they remember something important to the case, they can get that information to their attorney much quicker than someone with a public defender.
Contact McCleery Law Firm Today
Facing criminal charges is a harrowing experience for anyone. You may feel like you are up against the whole world, but you don’t need to go through it alone. McCleery Law Firm’s criminal defense attorneys in Canton, Ohio, are here to help, so contact us today. McCleery Law Firm’s experienced criminal defense attorneys will fight to protect your rights and freedom from start to finish. Even if you have concerns about the cost, an initial consultation is free, so give us a call today and see how we can help you.