If you have been arrested, charged with a crime, or know you are being investigated by law enforcement, promptly hiring a criminal attorney is the most important step you can take to protect your legal rights.

Delaying hiring a lawyer to help with your criminal case means you are flying blind against experienced law enforcement professionals and career prosecutors who are hoping to force you to pay a large fine or even send you to jail. If you’re facing possible criminal prosecution, it’s critical that you hire a lawyer immediately.

How can a criminal attorney help?

Criminal attorneys specialize in helping individuals facing criminal charges or investigation prepare their defense and protect their legal rights. An experienced criminal lawyer is deeply familiar with federal, state, and local criminal laws and understands the tactics that police and prosecutors use to build and pursue cases.

If you are still under investigation, criminal attorneys can prepare you for interviews with law enforcement, assert your legal rights against self-incrimination, and begin to build a comprehensive record to contest claims being made by police and prosecutors.

For cases that have already resulted in an arrest or indictment, criminal attorneys will be able to explain the nature of the charges you are facing and what punishments are possible. They will also help you decide whether it is in your best interest to try to reduce the charges you face, reach a plea bargain, or contest your case at trial.

Should your case result in a criminal trial, experienced criminal attorneys are prepared to try cases before a judge and jury. They will be able to conduct jury selection, present a compelling legal argument, and guide you and your family through what can be a very stressful process.

If you are convicted, an experienced lawyer can also help argue for leniency and reduce any sentence that you might face.

Finding the right criminal attorney

It is important to note that hiring a lawyer to help with a criminal case or investigation is not an admission of guilt. Even if you are confident that you have done nothing wrong, you almost certainly still need an attorney to help you navigate the legal system.

As you look for an attorney, you should consider the level of experience he or she has in trying criminal cases like yours. You may want to ask them whether they are familiar with the strategy and tactics of the offices investigating and prosecuting your case.

Finally, you should also discuss the lawyers’ general strategy, particularly whether they are inclined to pursue a plea bargain or take cases to trial. Before committing to an attorney, ensure that you are comfortable working closely with them: a criminal attorney will be your most important and trusted ally as you work through your legal situation.