Criminal Procedures

The Criminal Process

Why does a criminal defendant need an attorney?

Justice Black expressed it best in Gideon v. Wainwright (1963; see LegalSpeak p. 154) when he wrote that an attorney in a criminal case is a necessity. A criminal defense attorney will be able to investigate a case, often hiring a trained investigator who is essential to establishing a proper defense or attacking the prosecution’s theory of the case. A criminal defense attorney also knows the lawyers in the prosecutor’s or district attorney’s office and likely would be able to negotiate a much better plea agreement than a self-represented defendant. Also, criminal defense attorneys will know the law better and be able to make constitutional-based or statutory-based arguments that a layperson would simply now know. Simply stated, a criminal defense attorney knows the ins and outs of the criminal law far better than a layperson.


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