What does a Criminal Defense Attorney do for me?

Written by: Tsion Chudnovsky, JD and Robert Weinberg, JD

If you are facing criminal charges, you need the best criminal defense lawyer fighting for you. The prospect of prison time and other substantial criminal penalties generally make it a good idea to retain the best criminal attorney available.

Top criminal justice lawyers are trained to analyze cases and evidence for weaknesses, errors, and potential crime defense strategies that can be used to argue for case dismissal, reduction of charges, or even preventing a case from being filed.

14 Ways Criminal Justice Lawyers help you


1. Evaluate your charges and evidence

Evaluate your criminal charges, evidence, and best criminal defenses to provide a realistic evaluation of the case prospects and advise you on the best path forward..

2. Stop charges before they are even filed

Many times a good criminal justice attorney can meet with the District Attorney or federal prosecutor after an arrest, but before charges are formally filed.  It's possible for a good lawyer to present evidence and witness statements that may give prosecutors the whole picture, not just what the police or alleged "victim" have said.

Prosecutors can decide to file lesser charges such as a misdemeanor rather than a felony, for example. Or perhaps your felony lawyer can get the DA to not issue an arrest warrant or to reject the case and not file any criminal charges at all.

3. Recommend a defense strategy

After careful evaluation of the charges, police reports, witnesses and all other evidence, your Orange County criminal defense lawyer can recommend the best criminal defense strategy for your specific facts and whether to try and get the case dismissed, negotiate a reduction in charges, or fight the charges in a trial

4. Work with the D.A. to negotiate a “plea bargain”

If the case strategy is to negotiate charges, your attorney will negotiate with the district attorney to reduce charges, reduce potential sentencing or consequences, or even a case dismissal. A top crime defense lawyer will advise you of the pros and cons of your options

5. Assist you with the emotional aspects of trial

Your attorney will let you know what to expect and how to cope with potential embarrassment and depression that can come from a criminal trial.

6. Give you objective insight into the process

Your Los Angeles criminal defense attorney will coach you on what to expect during the process or criminal trial. The best defence attorneys will update you with assessments as the case proceeds through it’s stages and what is likely to happen next and whether it makes sense to accept a prosecutor’s plea bargain.

7. Educate you on laws and rules that apply to you

Criminal law is a complex body of state and federal legislation that top criminal justice attorneys must study and practice for years to skillfully navigate.


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8. Represent your case in the court where It is heard

Local rules of court often apply in each legal jurisdiction or court with nuances specific to each state court and federal court. As an example, in many jurisdictions only limited prosecutors are able to negotiate and authorize plea bargains. An experienced criminal justice lawyer will go straight to the correct district attorney the first time for the best results and have the experience to know what plea deal may be possible.

9. Understand "prosecutorial discretion" in your case

Prosecutors can have great "prosecutorial discretion" or leeway in how to charge for an offense and determine what actually happens in the criminal courts. An act that looks like one crime can be recast as a variety of other crimes, some more and others less serious. What in a statute book appears to be a fixed sentence for a particular crime can be negotiated into a variety of alternatives.

Some charges have immigration consequences while others don't. A skilled criminal justice attorney will use their experience and relationships to navigate your case through the nuances of each jurisdiction for the best possible outcome.

10. Compile evidence and Important witness statements

Interview witnesses and develop strategies to rebut or discredit prosecution witnesses.

11. Identify and hire private investigators

Criminal defense cases often require that your Newport Beach criminal defense attorney obtain an investigation of the alleged crime, key witnesses, inconsistencies in witness statements, and other evidence in the case.

12. Identify and hire key expert witnesses

If appropriate, expert witnesses may be appropriate to provide evidence to show your innocence or discredit prosecution witnesses.

13. Negotiate sentencing or alternative sentencing options

If your case cannot be dismissed or defeated, a sentencing program may be implemented. The best criminal defense attorneys will have relationships with many alternative sentencing options that can be proposed to the prosecutor and judge if appropriate. In most cases, these can be much more attractive than serving prison time. 

Alternative sentencing programs are based on the belief that rehabilitation is a more effective solution for offenders than prison. Some common options include: therapy, house arrest, community service and alcohol or drug programs.

14. Identify & explain any hidden consequences of a guilty plea

Depending on the charge, pleading guilty could make it harder to find a job, get licensing, or purchase some insurance with a conviction on your record. Non-US citizens also have criminal immigration consequences that require special consideration.

Last updated 8.15.19

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What does a Criminal Defense Lawyer do?

Criminal justice attorneys work for those accused of misdemeanor or felony crimes in local, state or federal courts. Criminal lawyers also defend clients before prosecutor charges are even filed. Lawyers must earn a JD and be licensed by a State Bar to practice.

Chudnovsky Law legal defense services for other languages

Our lawyers provide service in Español, Français, Italian, Portuguese, Hebrew and Amharic.

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