Best Savannah Criminal Lawyers
Getting arrested can be a scary, overwhelming experience. As soon as those handcuffs click, your mind races with questions – what happens now? What will I be charged with? Will I go to jail? How will this impact my life?That’s why having an experienced criminal defense attorney on your side is so important. The criminal justice system can be complex and confusing, but a good lawyer will guide you through it every step of the way.In this article, we’ll break down everything you need to know about working with criminal lawyers in Savannah. We’ll cover:
- What to Do If You’re Arrested in Savannah
- Finding the Right Criminal Defense Attorney
- Understanding the Criminal Justice Process
- Possible Defenses in Criminal Cases
- Costs and Fees for a Criminal Lawyer
We’ll also highlight some of Savannah’s top-rated and most successful criminal defense firms, in case you need a referral.
What to Do If You’re Arrested in Savannah
Getting arrested, even for a minor offense, is a big deal. The first 24-48 hours are critical, as that’s when important decisions are made about charging and bond that can impact the entire case.Here are some tips if you find yourself under arrest in Savannah:
- Remain silent – don’t say anything to the police except that you wish to speak to an attorney. Anything you say can potentially be used against you.
- Don’t resist arrest or get confrontational with officers – this will only make things worse.
- As soon as you can, call a criminal lawyer. An experienced attorney can come to the police station and advocate for your release.
- If you’re injured during the arrest, report it and get medical attention immediately.
- Write down as much as you can remember about the circumstances of your arrest. These details could help your lawyer.
- If you’re released on bail, make sure you understand the conditions and take them very seriously. Any violation could land you back in jail.
The hours after an arrest are when you’re most vulnerable. Having a lawyer to protect your rights is critical.
Finding the Right Criminal Defense Attorney in Savannah
Not all lawyers are created equal when it comes to criminal defense. Here are some tips for finding the right one:
- Look for experience – you want a lawyer who specializes in criminal law and regularly handles cases like yours. Avoid dabblers.
- Ask about track record – an acquittal rate reveals how often they can get charges dropped or win at trial.
- Find someone who will be hands-on – a lawyer who communicates regularly and will vigorously defend you in court.
- Make sure they have resources – from investigators to forensic specialists, what backup do they have?
- Consider personality – you want a lawyer you feel comfortable with and can be honest with.
Don’t just choose the first lawyer you find online or in the yellow pages. Vet them thoroughly first, as this is one of the most important decisions you’ll make.Savannah has many exceptional criminal defense firms and attorneys to choose from, including:
- Bouhan Falligant – well-respected firm with a long history and deep bench of criminal lawyers.
- Gannam, Gnann & Steinmetz – aggressive litigators known for getting charges reduced and dismissed.
- Oliver Maner – highly rated for felonies and federal crimes.
- Ellis Painter Ratterree & Adams – strong record on DUIs, drug crimes, and juvenile cases.
Understanding the Criminal Justice Process in Savannah
Once you’ve hired a criminal defense attorney, they’ll guide you through the complex legal process. Here are some of the common stages:Arrest: Police make an arrest if they believe there is probable cause a crime was committed. You’ll be fingerprinted, photographed, and booked into jail.Charging decision: The district attorney reviews the police reports and evidence and decides what criminal charges, if any, to file. Misdemeanors carry a potential jail term under 1 year while felonies are more serious crimes.First appearance: You’ll go before a judge who informs you of the charges against you and sets bail. If you can’t afford bail, you’ll wait in jail for trial.Preliminary hearing: For felonies, this is where the judge decides if there’s enough evidence to proceed to trial. Your lawyer can argue to get charges dismissed at this stage.Plea bargaining: Many criminal cases (over 90%) end in a plea deal rather than trial. Your lawyer may negotiate with the DA to get charges reduced or dropped.Trial: If no plea is reached, your case will go to trial before a judge or jury. Your lawyer will defend you against the state’s charges.Sentencing: If found guilty, the judge will impose a sentence – anything from probation to years in prison. Your lawyer can argue for leniency.Don’t try to navigate these complex waters alone. An experienced criminal lawyer knows the prosecutors, judges, and system inside out.
Possible Defenses in Savannah Criminal Cases
Skilled criminal defense attorneys know how to build strong legal defenses to defeat criminal charges. Here are some of the most common strategies they may use:
- Invalid or lack of probable cause for the arrest – if police didn’t have solid evidence to arrest you, your lawyer can challenge it.
- Unlawful search and seizure – if police conducted an illegal vehicle search or home search, any evidence found may be inadmissible.
- Miranda rights violations – if police interrogated you without reading you your rights, your statements may get thrown out.
- Insufficient evidence – prosecutors have the burden of proving guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. If the evidence is flimsy, charges can get dismissed.
- Mistaken identity – eyewitness misidentification is common. Your lawyer can show police arrested the wrong person.
- Self-defense – against charges like assault or homicide, self-defense is a strong justification defense if your life was threatened.
- Alibi – can provide proof you were elsewhere at the time the crime occurred.
- Mental competency – your mental state may be a mitigating factor that leads to reduced charges.
- Entrapment – if police improperly induced you into committing a crime you otherwise wouldn’t, it’s entrapment.
Your criminal lawyer will thoroughly investigate your case to determine if any of these defenses could get your charges dismissed or reduced.
What Will It Cost for a Criminal Lawyer in Savannah?
The cost of hiring a criminal defense attorney can vary greatly depending on the lawyer’s experience, the complexity of your case, whether it goes to trial, and other factors. Some general guidelines on what to expect:
- Retainers – most firms charge an upfront retainer fee of $2,000-$5,000 to begin work on your case. This helps cover their time.
- Hourly rates – expect to pay anywhere from $200-$500+ per hour for a criminal lawyer’s time, depending on experience and demand.
- Case minimums – some firms have minimum fees based on the type of crime. For example, DUI cases may start at $3000.
- Trial fees – if your case does go to trial, that requires many additional hours of work, so expect prices in the $15,000-$30,000 range.
- Payment plans – many lawyers do offer payment plans to break the costs down into affordable monthly installments.
Don’t let the potential costs deter you from hiring a good lawyer – it’s always worth it in the long run. A conviction can negatively impact you for life. And experienced attorneys may be able to get charges dropped or reduced, saving you money.
Takeaways – How Savannah Criminal Attorneys Can Help
Being arrested for a crime in Savannah can be a frightening experience. But an experienced local criminal defense lawyer can guide you through the complex legal system and advocate aggressively in your defense.They know how to build strong defenses against charges and negotiate effectively with prosecutors. They can also argue for reduced bail and minimized penalties.Take the time to carefully vet criminal lawyers in Savannah and choose someone experienced who will fight vigorously for you. Understanding the legal process and potential defenses is also key.While the costs to hire a private attorney can be significant, it’s wise to view it as an investment in your future. The consequences of a conviction could follow you for life. An attorney may be able to spare you these damaging outcomes.With an excellent criminal lawyer on your side, you can feel confident your rights will be protected each step of the way. Don’t go it alone against the power of the state – make that important call to a defense attorney as soon as possible.