If you have been charged with a crime in New Jersey, you likely have many questions. This probably includes questions about hiring an attorney to represent you. At Helmer, Conley & Kasselman, P.A., we believe it is extremely important for criminal defendants to make informed decisions, which is why we have chosen to publish answers to some of the most common questions we get about hiring a New Jersey criminal defense attorney.
Do I Need to Hire a New Jersey Criminal Defense Attorney if I Am Innocent?
Even if you believe you are innocent of the charges against you, hiring an attorney to represent you is still extremely important. Wrongful convictions are alarmingly common, and a lot can go wrong during a criminal case in New Jersey state court.
While the prosecution has the burden of proving your guilt beyond a reasonable doubt, you must still work to protect yourself from a conviction. Prosecutors can present a compelling case even when the facts are in your favor, and you cannot afford to take the risk of having the judge or jury decide against you.
Can a Criminal Defense Lawyer Help Me if I Am Guilty?
Just as you should not assume that you will walk free if you are innocent, you should not assume that you will be sent to jail if you are guilty. There are several ways to defend against criminal charges even if you are guilty as alleged. An experienced New Jersey criminal defense attorney will be able to examine the facts of your case, including the circumstances surrounding your arrest, and determine what defenses he or she can make on your behalf.
Also, at this point, you should not assume that you are guilty. Even if you think you committed a crime, you might not be guilty of the specific crime for which you are being charged.
If I Tell My Attorney I Committed a Crime, Does My Attorney Have to Tell the Truth?
If you tell your attorney that you committed a crime, your attorney does not have to disclose this to prosecutors or the judge. Any statements you make to your attorney regarding what you did (or did not) do are fully protected by the attorney-client privilege.
Is Everything I Tell My Attorney Protected by the Attorney-Client Privilege?
While there are a few exceptions to the attorney-client privilege, none of these are likely to apply when it comes to an attorney providing representation for your criminal case. Therefore, you should feel free to speak openly to your attorney. Telling your attorney everything you know will give him or her the best opportunity to build the strongest possible defense.
At What Point in My Case Should I Hire a New Jersey Criminal Defense Attorney?
If you are under investigation, under arrest or facing criminal charges in New Jersey, you should speak with a defense attorney right away. There is no reason to wait and waiting could limit your attorney’s opportunities to achieve a favorable outcome on your behalf. In addition, building an effective defense strategy takes time, so the sooner you contact an attorney, the better.
Some people may worry that getting an attorney involved early will simply give them time to run up the bill. No ethical lawyer will run up your bill unnecessarily. An honest lawyer will only do what is necessary to defend you, and he or she will actually look for ways to resolve your case as efficiently and inexpensively as possible.
Is It Ever Too Late to Hire a Criminal Defense Attorney?
There is a point at which it becomes too late to hire a criminal defense attorney. However, this point does not come until after your trial. So, if you have not gone to trial yet on criminal charges in New Jersey, you still have time to hire an attorney to represent you.
With that said, you do not want to wait any longer than necessary to schedule a consultation. As we have already mentioned, it takes time to build a successful defense. While you might still have time to hire an attorney, the longer you wait, the more difficult it will become for your attorney to build a solid and strategic defense that is custom-tailored to the facts of your case.
Is It Very Expensive to Hire a Criminal Defense Attorney?
Some criminal defense attorneys charge more than others, and some cases take more work than others. So, the amount it will cost you to hire an attorney depends heavily on your individual circumstances. However, when it comes to whether hiring an attorney is “expensive,” we suggest that you focus on the alternative.
Choosing not to hire a New Jersey criminal defense attorney can be an extremely costly mistake. Criminal charges carry substantial penalties in New Jersey. Having a criminal record can also make it more difficult to find a good-paying job, and, over your lifetime, the costs of a conviction can far exceed the relatively modest amount you will pay for legal representation.
How Should I Choose a New Jersey Criminal Defense Attorney?
There are several factors to consider when choosing a New Jersey criminal defense attorney. Experience in criminal law is perhaps the most crucial factor, but office locations, staff and availability are key considerations as well. Ultimately, you need to choose an attorney who makes you feel comfortable and who you believe has what it takes to handle your case effectively.
Schedule a Confidential Consultation at Helmer, Conley & Kasselman, P.A.
If you have more questions about hiring a defense attorney for your New Jersey criminal case, we invite you to schedule a confidential consultation at Helmer, Conley & Kasselman, P.A. To speak with one of our experienced New Jersey criminal defense attorneys as soon as possible, call 877-435-6371 or tell us how we can reach you online today.
Over 20 attorneys at HCK have extensive experience in defending criminal cases as they were former assistant prosecutors and/or police officers for a combined total of over 600 years of law enforcement experience. You can find out more about them on our site, and you can call Managing Partner Ron Helmer on his cell phone at 609 685-0665.