Below are some of the most common and frequently asked questions posed to Alabama Criminal Defense Lawyers
- How much do criminal defense lawyers charge? Alabama is not a wealthy state. Criminal defense lawyers in Alabama almost certainly charge less than more affluent states. However, costs can range significantly between lawyers and run anywhere from five hundred dollars to hundreds of thousands of dollars. Many factors can contribute to the cost of a proper legal defense in a criminal matter. For instance, the type of case and severity of the charge will increase the amount of work a lawyer must perform, and therefore the cost of legal representation will increase accordingly. A murder charge will cost more than a simple Theft or Shoplifting charge. Likewise, the knowledge and experience of your attorney will also likely increase the cost of representation in a criminal matter as well. A lawyer who has represented hundreds or perhaps thousands of clients successfully and who has numerous years of experience will also be more costly than a new attorney with little experience. Sometimes, a lawyer with greater experience may even charge less for simple cases where they believe a successful result may be obtained through their experience whereas a less or inexperienced lawyer may have to charge more simply because they do not have the knowledge or skill necessary to achieve the same good results without significantly more work to perform. A lawyer who focuses their practice in criminal law will usually charge more for their skill and experience in that area of law as well.
- Who is the best criminal lawyer for my case in Alabama? This is a hard question to answer. Lawyers, like everything else in life, bring different skills, experience, and knowledge to every case. Some attorneys are more aggressive, whereas some prefer to negotiate. Some lawyers know the prosecutors and judges in a particular county better than others. Some lawyers are good trial lawyers, and some not so much. Some lawyers may be cost prohibitive for your financial situation. A complete examination of the facts and circumstances of your case is needed in every instance. There are some questions that you must ask yourself prior to making a determination on the best criminal lawyer in Alabama for your particular case. How many similar cases has the attorney handled successfully? What is your definition of success? Will your case likely go to trial? Does the lawyer work regularly with the judge and prosecutors in the county or court in which you were charged with a crime? How many years of experience does the attorney have? Do they focus on one area of the law or on multiple areas of the law? Does the lawyer's practice focus on criminal law? Only after speaking with several lawyers and comparing their qualifications and answering these questions can you make an informed decision about who you should hire in a particular criminal matter.
- How many criminal case go to trial? Fortunately, not many. Most criminal cases are resolved through plea bargaining and plea negotiations. There are many reasons for this. The State of Government has significantly more resources to take criminal defendants to trial. They have investigators, experts, and multiple prosecutors. Surveys have found that 90% of Federal Criminal Cases are resolved by guilty pleas and only 2% of Federal Defendants go to trial. Even worse, most of the ones who go to trial end up being found guilty at trial. Of 80,000 Federal Criminal Defendant's 90% plead guilty, 8% of cases were dismissed. Fewer than 1% of cases go to trial and win in Federal Court. Amazingly going to trial in front of a judge, called a Bench Trial, benefited the defendant much more than going to trial by jury(Defendant's can waive their Right to Trial by Jury). The numbers are not as bad in State Courts like Alabama, but it's still about 90% who do not go to trial. What is the most significant reason most cases do not go to trial? It's called the "Trial Penalty." Despite the Constitutional protections afforded criminal defendants and the Right to a Trial written into our Constitution, criminal defendants get far greater sentences by going to trial. Some have even said that the Sixth Amendment Right to a trial is on the verge of extinction. A good criminal defense lawyer can often have cases dropped or dismissed through pretrial motions or through work leading to a successful plea bargaining and negotiation.
- How long does a criminal case take in Alabama? Again, this is not an easy answer. Criminal cases in Alabama can take a few days, weeks, or months, or even many years. Numerous factors come into play in determining the length of a criminal case in Alabama. For instance, a criminal case can take years simply to come off the Grand Jury through an indictment. Some counties in Alabama have Grand Juries every month and some only once or twice a year. Sometimes it may be in the criminal defendant's best interest and a trial strategy by the criminal lawyer to delay the matter as long as possible. The severity of the charge, the county in which you are charged, and trial strategy can all lead to cases extending years. I've seen cases take four years or more and that does not include a possible appeal process that can take even longer. Having said this, many simple cases, such as drug possession and simple theft cases can usually be resolved rather quickly.
- When should I hire a lawyer? This is an easy answer. Immediately! Do not wait. If you even think you will be charged with a crime or are being investigated for a crime you should contact an attorney right away without delay. A good lawyer will immediately begin fighting your case. There have been many times where lawyers have worked with law enforcement prior to charges even being filed that resulted in no charges for the defendant because of the lawyers work on a case.....and that's prior to any charges being filed. Again...Do Not Delay!
- Should I cooperate with a police investigation if I am innocent? No. Not without a lawyer present to protect your Rights and advise you of potential hazards. It's law enforcement' job to make arrests. They make mistakes and innocent people are charged with crimes all the time. Sometimes the police develop tunnel vision or a theory on a case that is not supported by the facts or the evidence. Maybe the admissible evidence is weak. Do not give evidence or statements to the police without a lawyer present and after advice and consent from your attorney.
- Can I be charged with a crime if I didn't know I was committing a crime? Generally, yes you can. Ignorance is not a defense to a criminal statute under the law. Intent can be an issue at trial but intent may be inferred in most instances. in crimes involving "possession" of something, possession does NOT require intent!
- Can you be charged in two states for the same crime? Yes, as long as some part of the crime was committed in each state. Each state and the Federal Government can charge you with a crime under the same facts without violating the Double Jeopardy Clause of the Constitution.
- Can I get a criminal charge off my record? Alabama does have an expungement law. However, expungement in Alabama is very limited. Please contact an experienced Alabama Criminal Defense Lawyer to discuss Alabama's expungement law.
- Do I need a lawyer for my criminal case? Absolutely, a criminal defendant should ALWAYS hire a lawyer when charged with a crime. A lawyer can review the case against you, have it dismissed, found not guilty, and if necessary get you the best possible plea deal available.