Whenever a criminal law attorney tackles a case, they want to start looking for ways to win early. This doesn't guarantee they'll score an early win, but it's where the thought process tends to be. Here is why attorneys often shoot for an early win and how that might affect your case.
Even if you've retained attorney services before the police charged you with anything, you won't get a chance to fight back until the arraignment. This is the court's initial hearing of the allegations against you. A prosecutor has to tell the judge and the defense what the charges are. More importantly, they also have to explain why any of this is worth the court's time.
Notably, your counsel will have the opportunity to raise questions about the state's case. Suppose the police allege that they found drugs in your car during a traffic stop. However, you have no idea why the cops thought they had the right to pull you over in the first place. Your lawyer may decide to call the police to testify and explain what the cause for the traffic stop was. If the argument doesn't hold up, the defense might ask the judge to dismiss the charges.
Attorneys also will raise questions about the legal issues at hand. If the accused intends to assert a self-defense claim in an assault case, they may ask the judge to consider the facts and dismiss the case at arraignment.
Many cases proceed past arraignment, but there still are opportunities to try for an early win. The judge will order discovery, a process where the state has to show the evidence and list of witnesses that it might use if the case goes to trial. A criminal law attorney will then have a chance to review the evidence and talk with the witnesses.
The discovery process matters because it may raise questions about the evidence. If the police can't show that they carefully maintained the chain of custody for a weapon, for example, the defense can ask the court to exclude the evidence. Likewise, if the evidence was critical to the prosecution's case, they may withdraw it or the defense might request a dismissal.
A final option for nothing an early win is plea bargaining. The state may offer a lesser charge with a lower punishment in exchange for a guilty plea. Sometimes there are additional conditions. The state may require counseling if the case involved drugs, alcohol, or anger. Especially if you can avoid or limit jail time, this can be a win.
For more information, contact a criminal law attorney near you.