One of the biggest misconceptions about criminal defense law services firms is that they mostly deal with trials or the processes leading to trials. The field of criminal law, however, covers a lot more than just openly fighting clearly defined charges. In fact, even people who aren't facing the prospect of jail time may want to hire an attorney to protect their rights and represent their interests. You may want to retain counsel in any of these four instances.
Being a Witness
Witnesses frequently need to ask for the support of a criminal defense law practice. A witness may be close enough to an accused individual or a specific happening that they might have some exposure to potential charges themselves. It's common for witnesses to not fully realize how close they are to the issues in a case until they're asked for testimony from prosecutors, as the police often play it close to the vest if they're not certain whether to charge a witness.
Law enforcement officials also do misrepresent their interest in charging people. A professional with experience in criminal defense law can explain whether the cops really do just want to speak with you as a witness or if they're playing at something else.
The brutal fact is that innocent people do get charged with crimes, and failures of the system can lead to them even being convicted. Once it is clear that an investigation is in progress and your name might come up, you should consult with an attorney as soon as possible. If the police choose to interview you, ask for an attorney to be present and insist on not discussing anything until counsel appears.
As a criminal case moves forward, there's a good chance that, if you've been charged with an offense, the prosecution will offer some type of deal to expedite things. Someone from a criminal defense law services practice can review the offer and explain whether it might be in your interests to take it.
The pre-trial process is often the best place to try to openly fight off a charge of criminal wrongdoing. Your attorney can examine the case the police and the prosecutors have built, spotting where there might be holes in it. Such concerns can then be brought to the attention of the court. If the problems with a case are obvious enough, it may be dismissed.