By: Passalacqua & Associates

Five Common Misconceptions About Criminal Defense Lawyers

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Do You Really Need to Hire an Attorney?

If you have been accused of a crime in the Syracuse area, whether that crime is a serious felony or a misdemeanor, you must be advised and represented by a Syracuse criminal defense lawyer. Only a criminal defense lawyer can represent you adequately and effectively.

If you’re charged with a crime, and you are hesitant about contacting a criminal defense attorney, you may have “bought into” one or several of the many misconceptions about criminal defense attorneys. Perhaps the five most common misconceptions about criminal defense attorneys are:

  1. Anyone can defend you against a criminal charge.
  2. Criminal defense attorneys are all the same.
  3. Only the rich can afford a criminal defense attorney.
  4. Criminal defense attorneys operate unethically and sometimes illegally.
  5. You do not need an attorney if you are pleading guilty.

If you’ll keep reading, you will learn why these misconceptions are false and sometimes harmful, and you’ll learn why having the right Syracuse criminal defense attorney is imperative if you have been charged with a felony or a misdemeanor in or near the Syracuse area.

Misconception #1: Anyone Can Defend You

In all fifty states, but especially in the State of New York, the laws are far more difficult and far more complicated to understand than they were even ten years ago. Even if the charge against you is a misdemeanor, any errors that you make while defending yourself could send you to jail.

You cannot take the risk of defending yourself against a criminal charge, and you also should not rely on a public defender to represent you. Some public defenders may be skilled attorneys, but they are overburdened with enormous caseloads and have little time to devote to your own case.

A criminal defense lawyer will give your case the time and dedication it needs. A defense lawyer will scrutinize the evidence, question the witnesses, prepare an aggressive defense on your behalf, and if necessary, negotiate with the prosecution for an acceptable plea agreement.

Misconception #2: Defense Attorneys Are All the Same

Every criminal defense lawyer has his or her own unique skills, training, and experience. Some lawyers almost never lose a case. Others win some and lose some. The most important thing that you can do in your own defense is to select the best defense attorney available to you.

Ask your friends and loved ones for defense lawyer referrals and recommendations. Your time, your money, and your freedom are valuable, so make your decision carefully.

No defense attorney can guarantee or promise a result in any particular criminal case, but your best chance for winning justice is to select an attorney who has substantial courtroom experience, a record of success on behalf of his or her clients, and a reputation for tenacity and effectiveness.

Misconception #3: Only the Rich Can Afford a Good Lawyer

Too many people think that you must be wealthy in order to afford a good criminal defense attorney. However, the fee that a lawyer charges is not going to tell you whether a lawyer is effective.

Let’s say that a lawyer looks at your case and tells you the evidence against you is persuasive, you will be convicted, and you should take a plea bargain if it’s offered. Another attorney promises to win an acquittal on your behalf but charges twice as much as the first attorney.

Despite the cost, too many people charged with crimes would choose the second attorney. The first attorney may be giving you frank, practical legal advice for a reasonable fee, while the second attorney may or may not be selling you anything but an expensive fantasy.

And unlike many of our competitors, we offer a VARIETY of different financing options to work with you to try and get the fee handled in an affordable way that won’t cause you any financial headaches!

Misconception #4: Criminal Defense Attorneys Are Unethical

Movies and television shows like Better Call Saul can give you the impression that the practice of law is an unruly free-for-all and that the best criminal defense attorneys are the ones who break the most rules. Nothing could be further from the truth.

While a very few defense attorneys operate unethically and even sometimes illegally, the bar association in each state monitors every attorney’s actions, and defense attorneys who conduct themselves unethically or illegally are disciplined, or in the most egregious cases, disbarred.

Overwhelmingly, the vast majority of criminal defense attorneys understand that they are not above the law, and they will not act unethically or illegally to win a case. Their top priority is providing sound legal advice and representing their clients professionally and effectively.

Misconception #5: You Don’t Need a Lawyer if You Plead Guilty

This may be the most harmful misconception about criminal defense attorneys. To begin with, you should never plead guilty as charged at your first hearing (called the “arraignment” hearing). Pleading guilty at your arraignment ends your case with no option for a plea deal.

Even if you are, in fact, guilty as charged, it is important to have a defense attorney who will negotiate on your behalf. If you are offered a plea deal, and if you accept it, you will probably agree to plead guilty to a lesser charge, and in exchange, you will serve a reduced sentence.

In the Syracuse area, if you are charged with any crime, you should be advised and represented by a Syracuse criminal defense attorney who has substantial experience with plea and sentencing negotiations.

Don’t try to negotiate by yourself with a prosecutor. If the prosecution offers you a plea deal, discuss the details of that deal with your defense lawyer before you decide to accept or reject it. And of course, if you are innocent, you should plead not guilty and insist on a jury trial.

Why Should You Choose Passalacqua & Associates?

Your criminal defense attorney is your advocate who will explain to a judge and jury what actually happened and why you should be acquitted (or, if you’re guilty, why you should be shown leniency).

A Syracuse criminal defense lawyer at Passalacqua & Associates will provide you with a strong, aggressive defense whether you are charged with a misdemeanor or a felony.

We take the time to examine the evidence and prepare an effective defense on your behalf while protecting your legal rights and working toward the best possible conclusion to your case. We take a true team approach. You will never have any less than two (2) attorneys assigned to your case! We are one of the largest criminal defense firms in Central New York, let us put that size and power to work for you!

If you’ve been charged – or if you are charged in the future – with any crime in or near the Syracuse area, or if you need reliable advice regarding any matter of criminal law, call Passalacqua & Associates now at 315-500-6425.