Criminal defense lawyers provide legal representation to people facing criminal charges or who have been charged with crimes. Or, they can represent people convicted of crimes in appealing their convictions.
The Sixth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution gives every person charged with a crime the right to be represented by an attorney. If the person cannot afford to hire an attorney, the state supplies one, usually a public defender. Or, in some states, a private attorney is paid by the state to represent a defendant who cannot afford to hire an attorney.
A person who can afford an attorney can hire the criminal defense attorney of their choice. Criminal defense lawyers engage in various legal activities related to defending a client. They may research criminal law, interpret criminal statutes, look for evidence in their client’s case, e.g., evidence to prove an alibi defense, interview witnesses, and review witness statements.
Mainly, they formulate defense strategies on behalf of clients. In most cases, a defendant’s criminal defense attorney would also negotiate a plea agreement on behalf of their client.
What Are Some Common Criminal Charges in Phoenix, Arizona?
Phoenix is a city that has a higher crime rate than most other cities in the U.S. In 2019, 67,777 crimes were reported to the police in Phoenix, Arizona. This is the most recent year for which crime data is available. This works out to be about 4,014 incidents for every 100,000 people. Nationally, the crime rate is 2,489 criminal incidents for every 100,000 people.
The state of Arizona, as a whole, has a lower crime rate than the city of Phoenix. The state, 210,779 crimes were reported in 2019, or 2,896 for every 100,000 people.
Property crimes account for about 83% of all offenses in Phoenix. Larceny is by far the most common type of property crime in the U.S. and the most commonly committed property crime in Phoenix. Some of the crimes most often reported in Phoenix include the following:
Given that these are the crimes most often committed in Phoenix, a criminal defense lawyer in that city would do well to be proficient in defending against these charges.
What Does a Criminal Defense Lawyer Need to Know?
A criminal defense lawyer needs to be familiar with three bodies of law. They are federal criminal law, state criminal law, and a city’s municipal codes. These bodies of law define crimes and provide the punishments for committing the crimes defined.
Each state has its own court system with its own rules for handling criminal cases. In addition, the federal government has its own court system and rules for criminal procedure in federal courts. Some examples of the differences between the state and federal rules of criminal procedure are as follows:
- District attorneys or state attorneys bring state cases. Attorneys prosecute federal criminal cases in offices of the United States Attorneys, which is part of the federal Department of Justice;
- All states do not require grand juries to charge defendants with crimes, but it is a requirement in federal felony cases unless the defendant waives the grand jury indictment. Some states also use grand juries to charge defendants with crimes;
- States and the federal government have their own sets of laws that make certain conduct illegal. Each state and federal government specifies the punishments for those crimes.
The Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure are the rules that apply to criminal cases in the federal court system. Each state has similar rules that apply to criminal cases in state courts.
Criminal defense lawyers tend to specialize in defending people charged with federal or state criminal laws. So a person who needs to hire a lawyer might want to find out whether their lawyer has worked primarily on federal or state cases in the past.
What Are Some Rights of Criminal Defendants?
Several important rights apply to defendants in criminal cases. Several legal sources provide them. These include the U.S. Constitution, state constitutions, and federal and state criminal laws. These rights are considered to be fundamental rules of fairness in criminal prosecutions.
Some important rights that are especially important in criminal cases are as follows:
- The right not to be tried twice for the same crime is known as the rule against double jeopardy;
- The right to confront their accuser means that if the person who has accused them of a crime testifies at the accused person’s trial, the accused person has a right to cross-examine the accuser;
- The right of a person to remain silent, which includes the right not to answer questions even if questioned by law enforcement officers;
- The right not to be subjected to cruel and unusual punishment;
- The right to a speedy trial and reasonable bail amounts means that a person accused of a crime should be tried within a short period after being charged. All states and the federal government have rules regarding when a criminal trial must occur after a person is charged with a crime. But many defendants waive this right when advised to do so by their attorney for various reasons.
In addition, a person has a right not to be stopped and investigated by the police and not to be arrested unless the officer who conducts the stop or arrest has a warrant based on probable cause to believe that a crime has been committed and that the person stopped or arrested committed it.
There are several limited exceptions to the requirement that police can only arrest if they have a warrant. Also, the police cannot search for evidence without a warrant. Or, the police can search without a warrant if one of the exceptions to the warrant requirement applies.
Law enforcement does have a limited right to stop and frisk a person for weapons if they have a reasonable suspicion only, and not probable cause, that the person is engaged in criminal activity.
If an officer arrests a person without probable cause and, as a result of the arrest, finds evidence of criminal conduct on the part of the person who has been arrested, the prosecution may not be able to use the evidence at the person’s trial. The evidence would be excluded because it was seized illegally.
This results from the exclusionary rule, an important rule regarding illegally seized evidence. The impact of the exclusionary rule on criminal cases is an important feature of both federal and state criminal law. It is something about which a criminal defense lawyer is knowledgeable and can use if the facts justify it in a particular case.
Violations of the rights of criminal defendants can often have major effects on a criminal case. Many defendants are unaware that they have these rights, so it is important to hire a lawyer for legal representation. A person’s criminal defense lawyer can ensure that all of a defendant’s rights are respected.
Do I Need a Lawyer for Help with Criminal Charges in Phoenix?
Arizona criminal laws and statutes can sometimes involve complex legal issues. You may wish to consult a Phoenix, AZ, criminal defense lawyer if you have been charged with a crime in Phoenix, Arizona.
Your attorney can represent you during the legal process to ensure that your rights as a criminal defendant are fully protected. Your lawyer can also answer any questions about how the criminal process works and what you can expect to happen in your case. Your lawyer can identify any defenses you may have and represent you in plea negotiations.