From doing to time in prison time to paying costly fines, a felony conviction can have damaging consequences. Having an experienced criminal defense attorney in your corner is essential to protect your rights and help you work toward the best possible outcome in your case.
The most common types of crimes that may result in felony charges include:
Felony Conviction Penalties
Felony convictions typically come with heavy penalties such as incarceration in state or federal prison and hefty fines. The court may also require you to pay restitution to a victim, the victim’s family or state. Individuals who have been convicted of felony murder may even face the death penalty.
Probation and Parole
Not all felony convictions lead to time in prison–penalties for some felony crimes can include probation or parole. To qualify for probation or parole, factors such as past criminal history and time served in jail awaiting trial are taken into consideration.
Probation is the suspension of jail time. However, it is vital to understand that probation does not mean you are permitted to do whatever you like. The court places certain conditions on you when you are on probation, which may include maintaining employment, drug testing and counseling. It is also important to keep in mind that any violation of the terms of your probation may result in severe penalties, including returning to prison.
Parole is the conditional release of a convicted party before his or her full prison sentence has been served. A parolee must also follow strict conditions, and any violation of the terms of your parole can send you back to prison. If you have been convicted of a crime in Pennsylvania, a skilled Chester County felony lawyer may be able to help you negotiate probation or parole as an alternative to serving time in prison.
Felony Conviction Appeals
Appealing a criminal conviction can be difficult but it is possible to get a conviction overturned. In order to get a felony conviction reversed, you must prove that an error was made in the criminal justice process during your initial trial. Because the appeals process is very complex, it should be handled by knowledgeable criminal lawyers who have extensive experience in felony conviction appeals.
Criminal convictions stay on your record for life and can limit employment opportunities, prevent you from securing housing and cause myriad other inconveniences that negatively affect your life. Expungement of your criminal record can make it easier to overcome these obstacles.
Expungement is a process in which eligible criminal convictions or arrests are removed from your record in the eyes of the law. If you are considering expungement, consulting with a criminal defense attorney who is well-versed in the law and rules surrounding expungement in your state is essential.
Being charged with a crime can have grave long-term repercussions for you and your family. Finding an experienced criminal defense attorney who will best fit your needs and fight for your rights can make all the difference when it comes to winning or losing a criminal case. To ensure you obtain the best legal representation possible, there are a few important things to consider before hiring an attorney.
Look For Experience
Criminal law is complex, and having criminal lawyers who are skilled at handling cases similar to yours is an invaluable advantage. Many lawyers specialize in particular types of offenses such as DUI, drug offenses, and white-collar crimes such as embezzlement. There are a few questions you can ask to get a feel for a criminal defense attorney’s level of experience, including:
Which law school did you attend?
How many years of experience do have in criminal court?
Have you represented individuals who have been charged with the same or a similar crime?
How much of your practice involves representing people charged with this type of crime?
How many cases have you litigated in the court where my case will be assigned?
If a lawyer declines to discuss his or her specific experience or gives vague answers, look for someone else.
Hiring an attorney with experience in the court where your case is pending can also give you a leg up when it comes to your defense. Although state law is the same in each Pennsylvania court, procedures do vary from county to county. Attorneys who are used to working in a particular area often know the district attorneys, clerks, local law enforcement and judges and how they operate in court. For example, if you have been charged with a felony in West Chester, a Chester County felony lawyer will most likely knows the ins and outs of negotiating with prosecutors and the court procedure there.
Your criminal defense lawyer speaks for you. No matter how stellar an attorney’s reputation may be, if you don’t feel comfortable with the person it is probably best to find another lawyer to represent you.
Ask yourself these questions when considering whether to hire a particular criminal defense lawyer:
Is the attorney someone I trust and can speak with openly?
Does he or she explain things in a way that I can understand?”
Does the lawyer see me as a partner involved in the decision-making process?
Does he or she express personal concern for my overall situation and possess a sincere desire to help?
Does the lawyer seem to be a person who engenders trust in prosecutors, judges and jurors?