If you have been arrested, you are probably thinking about hiring an attorney. As a criminal lawyer in Jacksonville FL, people call me when they are facing criminal charges. Some people call me either before or immediately after their arrests. Others wait until later. When I am trying to defend someone against criminal charges, the sooner I have the case, the better. This is for several reasons:
- Criminal Cases Move Quickly: In general, Jacksonville FL criminal cases move pretty quickly compare to other types of cases. Your Jacksonville criminal attorney will need as much time as she can have in order to defend your case. You have the right to a speedy trial in Florida. This means that you will be tried within 90 days of your arrest for a misdemeanor crime and 175 days for a felony offense. Even if you waive your right to a speedy trial, judges in Duval, Clay, Nassau and St Johns County tend to set cases for trial early. You do not want to wait until your case is set for trial to hire a lawyer to defend you.
- The Best Offense is a Good Defense: Think about a football game. You want to start on a level playing field or have the advantage. You do not want to be the underdog. If you do not hire a Jacksonville criminal lawyer until half time, the prosecutor will have already scored several times. Your Jacksonville attorney must now try to catch up just to break even. If you hire an attorney immediately, there is a good chance that your Jacksonville lawyer will be working on the case before the prosecutor even gets the file. This gives you an advantage, because you can build your criminal defense in an offensive manner.
- Waiting Until it is Too Late: Calling a Jacksonville criminal attorney to represent you the week before you go to trial is a bad idea. You want your lawyer to be prepared, so you need to give her time to do so. If you would have hired an attorney sooner, your lawyer may have been able to work your case out for you. I receive calls from people that wanted to hire an attorney after their case was closed. Some of them entered into plea agreements with the State Attorney’s Office. Then, they call because they are unhappy with the terms of the agreement. They should have hired an attorney before entering into the plea bargain. Attorneys can do much more for their clients before the case has been disposed of. Sometimes, there is very little an attorney can do after the criminal case is closed.
- Working the Case Out: If you do not want to go to trial, you want to somehow work the case out. You either want your Jacksonville lawyer to negotiate a plea deal or you want to try to get the criminal charges dropped. You attorney will need to work on doing this early on. She will need to go through the case and find the strengths and weaknesses. She will need to collect mitigating evidence. In my experience as a criminal defense attorney in Jacksonville, I find it much easier to work out a case in the beginning than at the end.