Answering FAQs About Hiring a Tennessee Criminal Defense Lawyer for Violent Crimes
Answering FAQs About Hiring a Tennessee Criminal Defense Lawyer for Violent Crimes
Being charged with a violent crime in Tennessee can be an incredibly scary and stressful situation. You may be facing serious penalties like lengthy prison sentences or even life in prison. Having an experienced criminal defense lawyer on your side can make all the difference in the outcome of your case. This article aims to answer some frequently asked questions about the process of hiring a criminal defense attorney to represent you for a violent crime charge in Tennessee.
Why Do I Need a Criminal Defense Lawyer?
The legal system can be complex and confusing, especially when facing serious criminal charges. An attorney understands the law and criminal justice process. They can advise you on the best defense strategies based on the specifics of your case. A lawyer can also advocate for you in negotiations with prosecutors, gather evidence, file motions to suppress evidence or dismiss charges, and defend you vigorously in court. Without proper legal counsel, your constitutional rights could be violated. You need an advocate to fight for you.
What Qualities Should I Look For in a Criminal Defense Lawyer?
- Experience handling violent crimes cases: Look for an attorney with extensive experience specifically defending cases like yours – murder, assault, robbery, etc. They’ll understand the complexities and be prepared for any challenges.
- Successful track record: Check credentials, client reviews and case results to verify the lawyer has a proven history of achieving positive outcomes in violent crimes cases through dismissals, acquittals, plea bargains and more.
- Resources and expertise: The lawyer should have the resources to thoroughly investigate your case, hire experts if needed, and craft an effective defense strategy. Look for stellar educational background, specializations and associations with legal organizations.
- Strong negotiator: Since many violent crimes cases end in plea deals, your lawyer must be an assertive yet strategic negotiator to secure the best possible plea bargain.
- Courtroom skills: If your case goes to trial, your attorney should be a confident litigator able to persuasively cross-examine witnesses and deliver compelling arguments before a judge and jury.
- Compassionate counsel: Given the high stakes, you need an attorney who will treat you with dignity and compassion while zealously defending you. Make sure you feel comfortable and confident in their abilities.
How Much Will a Criminal Defense Lawyer Cost?
The cost for legal representation will vary based on factors like:
- The specific charges you are facing – More serious felonies typically cost more to defend
- The lawyer’s experience level and overhead costs
- How complex your case is and how much investigation is needed
- Whether your case goes to trial vs. ends in a plea deal
Many lawyers offer free consultations, so you can get cost estimates before committing. Expect to pay at least a few thousand dollars for representation in a violent crime case. Cost should not be the only factor – public defenders are free but often overburdened. A private lawyer with time to dedicate to your defense is worth the investment.
What Questions Should I Ask a Potential Lawyer?
- How many violent crimes cases have you defended similar to mine? What were the results?
- Will you personally handle my case or assign tasks to associates?
- What will your investigative process look like for my defense?
- What defenses do you think may apply in my case? Why?
- What will the plea bargaining process look like if I go that route?
- Realistically, what outcome can I expect if I go to trial?
- What are all the costs I can expect to pay if I hire you?
- What are your views on staying in touch and keeping clients informed about their case?
Should I Hire a Public Defender or Private Lawyer?
Public defenders are free court-appointed attorneys for those who cannot afford private representation. They are often skilled lawyers dedicated to their work. However, high caseloads can limit their time and resources. Private criminal defense lawyers typically have more availability to dedicate time to your case. They also offer more choice in who will represent you. If at all possible, hiring private counsel is recommended for serious violent crimes cases requiring extensive defense preparation.
How Can I Pay for a Private Criminal Defense Lawyer?
If you lack sufficient funds, there are options available to help pay for legal fees, such as:
- Borrowing money from family, friends, bank loans or your home equity.
- Payment plans – Many lawyers allow you to pay in installments over time.
- Credit cards – Some lawyers accept credit card payments. This allows you to pay over time.
- Home equity line of credit – Use available funds from your home’s equity.
- 401K/Retirement account loans – You may be able to borrow against your retirement savings.
- Crowdfunding – Creating an online fundraising campaign through sites like GoFundMe.
- Sell assets – You may choose to sell valuable items like jewelry, electronics or a car to raise funds.
While an expensive endeavor, proper legal representation is crucial when your life and liberty are at stake. Explore all options to secure the best lawyer possible for your violent crimes case in Tennessee.
What if I Cannot Afford Bail?
If bail is set in your case but you cannot afford to pay the bail amount, you have options:
- Bond agents – Pay a nonrefundable fee to a bail bond agent to post your full bail amount.
- Bail reduction hearing – Your lawyer can request bail be lowered to an affordable amount.
- Property bond – Post property you own as collateral for bail instead of paying cash up front.
- Cash alternatives – Some jurisdictions accept credit card, money order or cashier’s check instead of cash for bail.
- Surety bond – A friend or family member agrees to pay the full bail amount if you fail to appear.
- Personal recognizance – In minor cases with low flight risk, you may be released without posting bail if you agree to show up to court dates.
Being jailed pre-trial can negatively impact your defense, so explore all options to secure your release pending trial. A resourceful lawyer can advise you on bail processes in Tennessee and help formulate an affordable bail plan if needed.
How Can I Get Evidence Suppressed or Charges Dismissed?
There are various legal strategies your defense lawyer may use to get unfavorable evidence suppressed (prohibited) from being used against you in court or have charges dismissed entirely:
- Illegal search and seizure – If evidence was obtained without probable cause or proper search warrant, your lawyer can file a suppression motion.
- Miranda rights violation – If you were interrogated without being read your rights, your statements may be suppressed.
- Unlawful arrest – Evidence obtained following an unlawful arrest without probable cause may be suppressed.
- Invalid identification procedure – Questioning the validity of eyewitness identifications or police lineups may suppress those IDs.
- Mishandling of evidence – Your lawyer may argue evidence was contaminated or improperly processed.
- Statute of limitations expiration – Charges can be dismissed if too much time has elapsed between alleged crime and arrest.
- Self-defense – In assault cases, convincing evidence of self-defense may result in dismissal.
Leveraging these and other technical legal arguments, an experienced lawyer may get charges reduced or dropped entirely.
Can I Avoid Jail Time if Convicted of a Violent Crime?
It is possible but very difficult. Some strategies your lawyer may use to help you avoid jail time for a violent crime conviction include:
- Plea bargaining – Plead guilty in exchange for prosecutors reducing charges so jail time is not mandatory.
- Suspended sentence – A judge suspends jail time pending completion of probation without violations.
- House arrest – Serving your sentence confined to your home with electronic monitoring instead of jail.
- Minimum security prison – If incarcerated, request assignment to minimum security facilities with more privileges.
- Work release – Serve jail time at night but be allowed to work, attend school or receive medical treatment during the day.
- Drug, alcohol or mental health treatment – Participating in rehabilitation programs may allow you to avoid incarceration.
However, for very serious violent crimes like murder, significant jail time is almost guaranteed if convicted. Your best chance at avoiding jail altogether is fighting the charges entirely with your lawyer.
- Retain an experienced criminal defense lawyer immediately if facing violent crime charges
- Ask key questions and thoroughly vet lawyers before choosing one to hire
- Weigh options of hiring private counsel vs. using a public defender
- Explore all financial options to pay legal fees, including payment plans, loans and credit
- Discuss defense strategies with your lawyer aimed at evidence suppression and dismissal
- Possibility of avoiding jail if convicted exists but is unlikely for serious violent crimes
Being arrested for a violent crime in Tennessee is a dire situation. But an aggressive, skilled criminal defense lawyer can often achieve positive outcomes. Use this guidance to make informed choices during this difficult time as you select counsel and build an effective legal strategy. The right lawyer’s advocacy can make the difference between freedom and incarceration.