Phoenix Criminal Lawyers and Phoenix Criminal Attorneys
If you’re facing criminal charges, it can be a very stressful experience for both you and your family. The outcome of your Phoenix criminal defense case can impact your future – your finances, your freedom, and your family. To say the least, you must find and hire the very best Phoenix criminal defense attorney to represent you in court.
But – the question is how can you determine who the top criminal lawyers are in a city like Phoenix? What qualities and qualifications, should you be looking for when researching potential criminal defense attorneys in Phoenix?
Spodek Law Group is here to help you. Our Phoenix criminal defense lawyers understand how delicate this situation is – and we want to help you.
Here are some important topics to consider when looking at Phoenix criminal attorneys:
- The benefits of hiring a specialist defense lawyer
- How to research and find the right Phoenix criminal attorneys
- Key credentials, skills and past results to look for when hiring a criminal attorney
- Questions to ask criminal lawyers during the initial consultation they offer
- Warning signs that you might be talking to an inexperienced lawyer
- Typical attorney fees
- How to compare attorneys and make your final hiring decision
Why Hire a Specialist Criminal Defense Lawyer?
Before you start examining how to find and vet specific Phoenix criminal attorneys, it is extremely important to understand why you should hire a Phoenix criminal defense specialist lawyer rather than a general practice lawyer. Criminal law is a very complex practice area and ever-changing legal practice area. Bottom line – it’s not a walk in the park, and there’s nothing procedural or basic about it.
Here are some of the key benefits of hiring an attorney who focuses exclusively on criminal defense cases:
- Expert Knowledge of Criminal Law – Phoenix criminal defense specialists understand the intricacies of current federal criminal codes, federal sentencing guidelines, federal court procedures, and federal evidentiary rules. This depth of knowledge is very important for constructing defense strategies inside, and outside of the court room.
- Trial Experience – Specialists typically have courtroom experience and have immense experience handling pre-trial hearings, motions, pleas, grand jury proceedings, and trial work.
- Investigative – Defense specialists are trained in how to conduct in-depth investigations to identify weaknesses in the prosecutors case and uncover potential evidence which could show your innocence. Developing reasonable doubt is vital to winning cases, and there’s no one better than a criminal defense specialist.
- Plea Negotiation – Specialists are highly skilled negotiators who can leverage defense evidence and issues to get favorable plea deals from prosecutors that potentially reduce charges and penalties.
- Ability To Mitigate Evidence– Specialists are experienced at understanding how to gather evidence and handle mitigating factors and presenting compelling arguments at sentencing to reduce the potential punishment.
- Client Skills – Because of their immense experience and knowledge, criminal defense specialists can give info to their clients on legal strategies, outcomes, and direct implications while providing compassionate support.
- Familiarity with Prosecutors and Judges – Phoenix criminal defense specialists frequently work with prosecutors and judges in the courtroom. These relationships can sometimes work to a client’s advantage because the specialist can have informal discussions with the prosecutor, and work out a plea deal that makes sense for both you and the prosecutor.
- Trial Support – Established criminal defense firms have extensive resources and support staff to assist with things like investigations, legal research, witness prep and trial help.
For these reasons, and others, such as expertise and support, it enables specialist criminal defense attorneys to be far more effective than general practice lawyers handling the the occasional criminal case.
How to Research Criminal Defense Lawyers in Phoenix
Phoenix is the home of many law firms and lawyers who handle criminal defense work. Narrowing the list to find the most qualified, successful advocates takes significant research. Here are some of the best methods for finding experienced criminal defense attorneys in Phoenix:
- Courtroom Observations – It’s a good idea to go to courtroom, and watch lawyers handle proceedings and pre-trial hearings. This can allow you to observe their legal skills and trial skills first-hand.
- Check Ratings on Legal Databases – Martindale-Hubbell, AVVO, Super Lawyers and the National Trial Lawyers are top legal directories that rate and rank lawyers based on experience, credentials and peer reviews. In addition, websites like Avvo, and Google Places, have sections where clients can leave reviews.
- Contact the Maricopa County Bar Association – The MCBA has a lawyer referral service and recommends names of criminal practitioners with favorable peer reviews.
- Search Online Listings and Legal Publications – FindLaw, Nolo, and lawyers.com have databases you can search for lawyers online. Ranking lists like Best Lawyers provide valuable information and resources.
- Read Client Reviews on Google, Facebook, Etc. – Check for online reviews and testimonials by former clients. Many former clients will share their experiences online on these websites.
- Verify State Bar Membership and Standing – One of the things you should do is verify that all lawyers you’re speaking to are under consideration are in good standing with the State Bar of Arizona. You can view all of this online.
Potential Questions to Ask During Initial Consultations
Once you have narrowed down the field using the criteria above, the next step is to schedule initial consultations with your top two or three candidates to address key questions that will further reveal their qualifications and approach. Maximizing these initial meetings is crucial, as they will heavily influence your final hiring decision. Some vital consultation questions include:
- How much experience do you have handling criminal cases similar to mine?
- What is your background, and what are your credentials in criminal law?
- Where did you receive your law degree?
- What is your overall track record in getting positive outcomes for your past clients? What strategies do you use?
- What benefits can you bring to my criminal case if I hire you? Why should I have confidence in your ability to get me a successful outcome?
- What will your approach be to defend me? Will private investigators be utilized? How will you find evidence that exonerates me?
- How often do your cases result in plea bargains versus criminal trials?
- What is your approach to conducting plea deals?
- What total costs can I expect for my criminal defense case if I hire you? Do you offer flexible payment plans?
One of the most important things when hiring a criminal defense attorney is their record. You want someone who has experience handling cases similar to yours. You want someone who has experience handling criminal cases, whether they be felonies or misdemeanors, that are identical/similar to yours. For example, if you committed murder – you should hire an attorney with experience handling murder cases. You shouldn’t hire someone who has never tried a murder case ever. Another important thing, is to hire an attorney with extensive experience and credentials. For example a Harvard-trained lawyer is better than someone who got their education from a 2nd or 3rd tier law school.
Once you decide to hire a Phoenix criminal defense attorney, the lawyer should immediately start reviewing evidence, interviewing witnesses, researching legal defenses, developing a strategy, and protecting your rights.
Understanding Legal Rights and Criminal Defense
Whether you are innocent or guilty when charged with a crime, the United States Constitution grants you the right to have a fair trial and legal representation. However, since most people are confused upon being charged with a crime, they are not able to think clearly and thus make many poor decisions along the way. As a result, their cases rarely turn out as well as they could have under the expertise of knowledgeable criminal lawyers. While you will have the option of having a public defender assigned to you by the court, you will have a much better chance of getting an innocent verdict in court or having the charges against you reduced if you instead hire your own criminal lawyer.
Importance of Understanding the Charges
If you have never previously been arrested, you may not understand the differences between a felony and misdemeanor, let alone the serious consequences that could follow if a conviction occurs. Unless you have an experienced criminal lawyer handling your case who can explain the charges to you, give you various scenarios as to how your case could play out, and provide you with trusted advice as to how you should proceed, life-altering mistakes will almost always be made in these situations. Since you won’t be able to make the best decision for your situation until you fully understand what is at stake, hire a criminal lawyer immediately to ensure your rights are protected in every way possible.
Necessity of a Criminal Lawyer to Keep Your Case Moving Forward
If you rely on a public defender, you may wind up sitting in a jail cell indefinitely. Since these attorneys sometimes have a hundred or more individuals for whom they are responsible, it is impossible for them to give your case the detailed analysis it deserves. By choosing to hire a criminal lawyer who is well-known for striking deals with prosecutors and keeping cases moving forward in a quick manner, you can avoid languishing in jail and instead be one step closer to regaining your freedom and reputation.
Choosing a Lawyer Who Knows the Law
In many situations where arrests take place, various loopholes exist that can be used to your benefit. For example, if you are facing DUI charges, an experienced criminal lawyer will know breathalyzers are often inaccurate, police officers are not properly trained to use these devices, and that field sobriety tests are often given incorrectly due to poor instructions from officers at the scene. Because of this, your lawyer can cross-examine officers in court, get them to admit they made mistakes during your arrest, and get the charges against you reduced or dropped. By having an attorney on your side who has seen it all in their many years of practicing law, you can use the law to your advantage in ways you never imagined.
Finding the Best Criminal Defense Lawyers in Phoenix
Why You Need a Lawyer When Facing Criminal Charges
Dealing with criminal charges is extremely overwhelming. Many people have the temptation to go it alone, and this temptation may be strong, but having an experienced criminal defense lawyer on your side can truly make all the difference. Here are some key reasons why going through the criminal justice system requires expert legal help:
- Complex laws – Criminal defense law is full of intricacies and technicalities. Your criminal attorney will understand these complexities, and how to use them to build a strong defense.
- Avoiding mistakes – When you’re under pressure, it’s very easy to make mistakes which hurt your case – for example – like admitting fault, or sharing self-incriminating info. Your criminal lawyer will help stop you from accidentally damaging your criminal defense case.
- Prosecutor experience – Criminal Prosecutors usually handle hundreds of cases and have in-depth expertise and understanding of the justice system. An attorney levels the playing field by bringing expertise.
- Sentencing guidance – Criminal penalties, and sentencing guidelines, can be tough and confusing. Your criminal lawyer has the knowledge to help get the lightest possible punishment if you’re convicted. In some cases the lawyer will be able to get other remediation in lieu of prison time.
- Objectivity – Emotions like fear and anger can cloud your judgement when facing charges. Your attorney can bring objectivity to build the best defense.
The stakes are simply too high when your future, finances, reputation, and freedom are on the line.
Navigating Arizona Criminal Laws and Penalties
Criminal law in Arizona holds defendants accountable under hundreds of different statutes covering everything from homicide, to drug charges, and sex crimes. Here is a brief overview of the key sections of the Arizona Penal Code:
- ARS 13-1104 – 1st degree murder
- ARS 13-1105 – 2nd degree murder
- Penalties range from 10+ years to life imprisonment or capital punishment
Assault and Violence
- ARS 13-1203 – Assault
- ARS 13-1204 – Aggravated assault
- Penalties range from fines to multi-year prison terms
- ARS 13-1405 – Sexual assault
- ARS 13-3553 – Sexual exploitation of a minor
- All require sex offender registration. Prison terms often 25+ years.
- ARS 13-3405 – Possession or use
- ARS 13-3408 – Manufacturing or trafficking
- Penalties range from probation to multi-year prison sentences
- ARS 28-1381 – Driving under the influence
- Penalties include fines, license suspension, jail time, ignition interlock
This overview discusses just a few examples of Arizona criminal statutes that carry serious penalties which require an experienced defense lawyer’s help to navigate. Don’t go through this alone – protect yourself with legal help.
Building an Effective Criminal Defense Case in Arizona
Skilled Phoenix defense attorneys use a variety of strategies to protect your rights and get the best possible outcome when facing criminal allegations in court. Here are some of the most common and effective legal defenses:
Insufficient Evidence Defense
One strategy focuses on attacking gaps, or inconsistencies. in the prosecutor’s evidence tying you (defendant) to the crime. Possible arguments include:
- Faulty ID – Eyewitnesses can be mistaken. Lineups could be improperly conducted.
- DNA problems – Samples could be contaminated.
- Unreliable witnesses – Witness credibility issues due to grudges, immunity deals, poor memory.
- Planted evidence – Police misconduct like planting evidence does occur sometimes.
- Circumstantial evidence – The Prosecutor lacks smoking gun evidence, relying just on circumstance.
By undermining all the weak links in the state’s evidence chain, our experienced Phoenix criminal lawyers can raise reasonable doubt of guilt.
Fourth Amendment Violations
Our defense lawyers will also look for any violations of a defendant’s Fourth Amendment rights, like:
- Invalid searches – Evidence that was gotten without a warrant or probable cause.
- Improper seizure – You was unlawfully arrested without justification.
- Miranda issues – Police did not administer Miranda rights before questioning you.
By leveraging these tactics, it can lead to suppression of evidence or dismissal of charges.
Mental Health Defenses
In some cases, struggles with mental illness can provide a way to get reduced charges, or alternative sentencing through:
- Incompetence – Defendant was unable to understand charges or assist in defense.
- Insanity – Defendant couldn’t appreciate wrongfulness of actions.
- Diminished capacity – Your mental state interfered with ability to form criminal intent.
Psychiatric evaluations, and medical records, can support these claims when applicable.
When accused of violent crimes, like assault, or homicide, arguing self-defense is a common strategy and one which can succeed. Elements of a successful self-defense claim include:
- Reasonable threat – A rational fear of imminent bodily harm.
- Appropriate force – Physical force did not exceed what was necessary for protection.
- No provocation – The defendant did not provoke or escalate the confrontation.
Physical evidence of harm suffered by you can help corroborate self-defense arguments.
Our Phoenix defense lawyers will thoroughly investigate the facts of the criminal defense case to determine if any of these defenses could provide a way to dismiss or reduce charges.
How Criminal Penalties Are Determined in Arizona Criminal Cases
If you’re facing a guilty verdict, the penalties will depend on critical factors Arizona courts consider such as:
- Prior record – Repeat offenders usually face escalating punishments.
- Violence or weapons – Crimes involving a weapon or injury add sentencing enhancements to your final sentence.
- Victim status – Crimes against children or the elderly increase penalties.
- Sentencing guidelines – There are general ranges dictated by the offense charged and criminal history.
- Mitigating circumstances – Conditions like mental illness, addiction, or trauma can reduce sentences.
- Plea bargains – Agreements to plead guilty in return for lesser charges with reduced penalties.
While judges have leeway in sentencing, mandatory minimums exist for certain criminal offenses. Understanding potential penalties can make it easier to create a defense strategy targeting.
Finding the Right Phoenix Criminal Defense Attorney for You
Don’t leave your future to chance – selecting the right Phoenix criminal lawyer to defend your charges is crucial. Here are key things to consider when hiring an attorney:
Finding a lawyer who focuses specifically on criminal law is vital. Avoid general practitioners. Look for an attorney with who has extensive trial experience defending cases similar to yours.
Understanding the local courts, judges, and prosecutors in Phoenix is invaluable. Local Phoenix lawyers will have an understanding of the different law enforcement agencies, judges, and prosecutors.
Look for a firm that is large and has ample resources for things like investigation, research, administration, and appeals if needed. Solo lawyers are often overstretched and don’t have the resources.
Engagement and Communication
The ability to earn your trust and regularly explain status, strategy, and options is crucial in an attorney.
Rates between $2,000 to $5,000+ for a felony trial are typical in Phoenix. The cheapest lawyer is rarely the best choice.
Questions to Ask When Comparing Phoenix Criminal Defense Lawyers
Scheduling consultations with multiple attorneys allows you the chance to interview candidate criminal lawyers before deciding who to entrust with your defense. Here are key questions to ask:
- How much experience do you have handling cases similar to mine – what were the outcomes?
- What will your investigative process look like if I hire you? How will you build my defense?
- Based on my shared facts, what possible defense strategies do you foresee for my case?
- What are the possible penalties I could be facing if this goes to trial and ends in a guilty verdict?
- What are the steps involved in the pretrial process? What motions might you file on my behalf?
- How often will you communicate case updates and developments to me? How can I contact you with questions?
- What are the pros and cons of negotiating a plea bargain instead of going to trial in my case?
- What are your rates and fee schedule? Are payment plans available if needed?
- Can you share reviews, case results, and client references so I can evaluate your background?
Seeking Dismissals, Reduced Charges, or Alternatives to Incarceration
For some defendants, Arizona law provides a few ways that criminal defense lawyers can pursue to avoid harsh penalties:
These voluntary programs allow first-time offenders, who face lesser charges to do rehab and avoid incarceration. They usually involve closely adhering to strict conditions, but graduation results in dismissed charges.
In limited circumstances, prosecutors can agree to defer initiating prosecution to allow a period to prove rehabilitation and compliance with conditions. If completed successfully, all charges are dropped.
This involves court-mandated rehab, and probation, prior to conviction, sometimes in specialized courts like veterans’ or drug courts. Graduation results in avoiding sentencing.
For some offenses, prosecutors could agree to recommend only probation time and suspended incarceration, which allows the defendant to avoid prison.
The right defense attorney can thoroughly investigate every way to reduce or dismiss charges through these programs when applicable. Avoiding prison is the objective/priority.