Being charged with a crime puts your life, liberty, and reputation on the line. With so much at stake, getting the help of an experienced criminal defense lawyer is critical to ensure that you are treated fairly by the justice system.
But what exactly does a criminal defense lawyer in Massachusetts do?
Put simply, a criminal defense attorney is responsible for making sure that your constitutional rights are protected if you’ve been accused of a crime. While prosecutors marshal all resources to mount a case against you, a criminal defense lawyer will work to ensure that you are truly treated as “innocent until proven guilty.”
If you’re facing criminal charges in Massachusetts, turn to the Brockton criminal defense lawyers at The Law Offices of Gerald J. Noonan. Our law firm is staffed by former prosecutors who have tried thousands of criminal cases in Massachusetts courts. That gives us a distinct advantage when it comes to handling your case. We can anticipate the strategies the state will use against you because we’ve used them ourselves. We’ll use our extensive knowledge to develop a strong defense for you.
To speak with a criminal defense lawyer in Brockton, call or contact us today for a free consultation.
The Criminal Defense Process
Here’s a step-by-step look at how a criminal defense attorney can assist you throughout the entire legal process.
A criminal defense lawyer may be assigned to you by the court (a public defender) or you may hire a defense attorney on your own. In Massachusetts, people accused of a crime can represent themselves if they choose, but the outcomes are much less favorable than if they work with a private lawyer or public defender.
Interview About the Case
During the initial interview, a criminal defense lawyer will review the charges against you to make sure you understand what you’re facing. Expect to be asked pointed and personal questions about what happened and about your background. A defense attorney needs to know everything about your side of the story in order to pinpoint potential defenses and identify strengths and weaknesses in the case.
Investigate Your Case
A criminal defense lawyer will conduct a thorough investigation into the charges against you. That means examining the facts of the case, the circumstances surrounding your arrest, evaluating the evidence against you, gathering evidence to counter the allegations, and talking to witnesses.
After investigating the case, your lawyer will be in a better position to identify what legal avenues are open to you. That could include having the charges reduced or dismissed. If the case does end up in court, a criminal defense lawyer can push for a plea bargain and/or work to have evidence that is harmful to your case excluded during trial.
Analyze the Evidence
Once all the evidence is collected, your criminal defense lawyer will analyze it and examine how Massachusetts laws apply in your case. That includes looking at whether any of your rights were violated during your arrest and that all investigations from law enforcement were conducted appropriately.
A review of the evidence will also help your lawyer think about whether the court would consider reducing or dismissing your charges if you agree to participate in a diversionary program as an alternative to prosecution.
Negotiate a Plea Bargain
A criminal defense lawyer will also attempt to negotiate a plea bargain with the prosecutor, if possible. A plea bargain is an agreement made between the prosecutor and the accused in which the defendant pleads guilty in exchange for dropped charges, reduced charges, or a lesser sentence.
The prosecutor and your defense attorney will look at several factors when negotiating a plea bargain:
The strengths and weaknesses of both sides of the case
Your prior criminal history
Whether the plea bargain is the best possible resolution for the case
You are not required to accept the prosecutor’s plea bargain at first, or even at all. Your criminal defense lawyer will be able to advise about whether it’s better to sign the plea bargain in exchange for more lenient treatment or take your case to trial.
At trial, your case will be decided by a jury. Jurors are expected to be unbiased to give you the best opportunity for a fair trial. A criminal defense lawyer and prosecutor will have an opportunity to ask questions from the pool of potential jurors in an effort to weed out those who may not be able to treat the case with impartiality.
At trial, your criminal defense lawyer is your best asset. He or she will present witnesses to support your case, cross-examine witnesses from the other side, and work to show that the prosecution did not meet its burden of proof to demonstrate your guilt. If the prosecution has failed to prove their case “beyond a reasonable doubt” to the jury, then it it’s the jury’s obligation to acquit you.
Let’s say that you’ve been convicted of a crime or have agreed to accept a lesser sentence through a plea bargain. Your criminal defense lawyer can still help during the sentencing phase.
During sentencing, you learn what your punishment will be. But before the sentence is handed down, your defense attorney will have the opportunity to discuss factors that might call for a more lenient sentence. Potential sentences include jail time, fines, incarceration, community service, or participation in diversionary or educational programs to encourage rehabilitation.
Contact a Criminal Defense Lawyer Today
Every criminal case is different, and there’s no telling how the prosecutor, judge, or jury will view the accusations leveled against you. Your best shot at being treated fairly comes from working with a knowledgeable criminal defense lawyer.
At The Law Offices of Gerald J. Noonan, we know how scared you feel. We know what’s on the line. You can count on us to draw upon our years of experience as trial lawyers to understand the tactics that will be used against you in court and fight to protect your best interests.
No matter what crime you are accused of, you’re still entitled to a fair trial that is conducted ethically and in accordance with Massachusetts law. Our Brockton criminal defense lawyers will leave no stone unturned to ensure that you get the impartial treatment you are entitled to.
The Law Offices of Gerald J. Noonan represents clients in Southeast Massachusetts, including Brockton, Taunton, Bridgewater, Weymouth, Hingham, Quincy, Plymouth, Marshfield, Attleboro, Canton, Stoughton, and the surrounding communities.
For more information about how we can help protect your future, call or contact us for a free consultation today.