If you were recently arrested and charged with a criminal offense in the State of Tennessee and you are unfamiliar with the criminal justice system and how a criminal case is prosecuted, the most important thing you can do for yourself is to hire an experienced Tennessee criminal defense attorney to represent you. If you have never had to retain the services of a criminal defense attorney before, however, you may have questions you want to ask, but are afraid to ask. Although every case is unique, and every attorney is an individual, there are some common questions that you may wish to ask along with reasons why you should ask them even if you feel a bit uncomfortable doing so.
- How much will this cost me?
Money is always a touchy subject to discuss; however, when it comes to your legal defense, it is imperative that you have a very clear picture of what your defense will cost you from the outset. Although every attorney sets his/her own fees, most criminal defense attorneys charge flat fees for their representation. Sometimes, however, the cost of your legal defense will differ depending on how your case is resolved. For example, it might cost more to take your case to a jury trial than it will to negotiate a plea agreement because representing a client through a jury trial takes considerably more time and effort than negotiating a plea agreement. Regardless of how the attorney charges, the important thing is that you know what your legal defense will cost you from the beginning of your case.
- How long have you been practicing criminal law?
You may be concerned that asking this question is somehow insulting to the attorney; however, it is a very common question that the average criminal defense attorney is accustomed to being asked. Give what is at stake, you are certainly entitled to know how much experienced an attorney has handling criminal defendants prior to deciding to hire the attorney.
- How many jury trials have you handled?
Likewise, you may wish to ask an attorney how many jury trials the attorney has handled but be reluctant to do so for fear of offending him/her. If, however, you are even considering taking your case to a jury trial, you need to know if the attorney has experience in front of a jury. Because the vast majority of criminal prosecutions are resolved without the need for a jury trial, not all criminal defense attorneys have extensive experienced trying cases to a jury.
- How can you represent me if I’m guilty?
This is one of those questions that clients often want to ask an attorney but don’t for a variety of reasons. First, your attorney may not even ask you outright if you are guilty because it isn’t always necessary to know the answer to that question. In the United States, the State, through the prosecuting attorney, has the burden of proving you guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. That means you do not have to put on any defense at all, in theory. Your attorney’s job is to ensure that you are not convicted unless the State can meet that burden. Your attorney is not required to prove you innocent. Therefore, your guilt or innocence is not always the most relevant issue in a criminal prosecution.
- What will happen if I’m convicted?
Although you may dread the answer to this question, it is important for you to know the answer. There are no guarantees in a criminal prosecution. With an experienced criminal defense attorney on your side you certainly stand a better chance of avoiding a conviction; however, if the evidence against you is overwhelming your best outcome may be a plea agreement that is as advantageous to you as possible. The important thing is that you need to know where you stand and the possible outcomes of your case from the beginning of your case so you are not facing an unwanted surprise at the las minute.
If you are currently facing criminal charges in the State of Tennessee, it is in your best interest to consult with the experienced Tennessee criminal defense attorneys at Bennett, Michael & Hornsby. Contact the team today by calling 615-898-1560 to schedule your appointment.