Erie County, PA Criminal Defense Lawyer
Being caught up in a criminal case is one of the scariest things a person can go through. Your life and freedom might be on the line, and you need an experienced criminal defense attorney to help you.
If you are accused of a crime and arrested, your next steps might greatly influence how your case turns out. While you should cooperate with law enforcement during the arrest process, you should avoid incriminating yourself. Hire a lawyer as soon as possible after the arrest. Your lawyer can help explain your charges and prepare for a criminal trial. Before your trial, we can begin mounting your defense by submitting pretrial motions, challenging the evidence, and gathering evidence. If you are unfortunately convicted, your attorney should help you make sure your sentence is fair and within appropriate sentencing guidelines. They can also initiate an appeal.
Get in touch with The Law Offices of Lloyd Long by calling (215) 302-0171, and schedule a time for a free, confidential review of your case and charges with our criminal defense lawyers.
What Do I Do if I am Arrested on Criminal Charges in Erie County, PA?
If you are unfortunately arrested for an alleged criminal offense, your best bet is to cooperate with law enforcement. Resisting an arrest is not a good idea, even if the police have got the wrong person. While allowing the police to put cuffs on you and take you into custody might be humiliating or intimidating, you should do your best to make the process smooth and painless.
It would be best if you also cooperated throughout the booking process. This process involves having your fingerprints and photo taken for police records. Law enforcement officials will also need your personal information to properly identify you.
Once the police initiate custodial interrogation, you should stop answering questions. Before questioning, the authorities should inform you of your Miranda rights, and give you the opportunity to contact a lawyer. When they do this, you should refuse to answer any more questions and demand to see a lawyer. Both these things are well within your rights, and the police should not refuse.
If you are never afforded the opportunity to contact an attorney while in police custody, call a lawyer now and explain the situation. This may be a severe violation of your rights, and any incriminating information or evidence the police might have obtained might be tainted. If so, our criminal defense lawyers can work to have it excluded from your trial.
How to Prepare for a Criminal Trial in Erie County, PA
The work on your case begins almost immediately after you are arrested. Having a lawyer as early as possible is important because they can challenge the prosecutor’s case at numerous points before the trial even starts. Finding the weak points in the prosecutor’s case is essential to your defense.
First, our team can help you challenge the prima facie evidence the prosecutor presents at your preliminary hearing. According to 234 Pa. Code Rule § 542(D), this hearing requires that the government show sufficient evidence to support the charges against you and hold you over for trial. If the evidence is weak, we can argue that prosecutors have not met their burden here, and some or all charges should be dropped or dismissed. Even if you are held over for trial, we can at least get a glimpse of the prosecutor’s evidence and the strategy they may employ at the trial.
We can also file pretrial motions that might shape your case and steer it in a more favorable direction. For example, if prosecutors have evidence that was seized in violation of your rights, we can file a motion to exclude that evidence so it is not used against you. If we exclude key evidence from the trial, the case against you may be seriously weakened.
What Happens if I am Convicted of a Crime in Erie County, PA?
Not every case will end in a complete dismissal of charges. Many defendants are found guilty. If this happens in your case, you and your lawyer will move on to sentencing. At this point, your attorney can work to make sure your sentence is fair and in line with relevant sentencing guidelines. The sentencing phase is another hearing. And the judge must weigh numerous factors surrounding your case, both aggravating and mitigating, when making a final decision.
Your lawyer can also begin working on an appeal. You might appeal the conviction because of legal errors that arose during the trial. You might also appeal the sentence for being unfair or out of line with sentencing guidelines. If the appeal is successful, you may get a new trial.
Do I Need a Lawyer if I am Charged with a Crime in Erie County, PA?
You are not required to have a lawyer represent you during a criminal trial. You are allowed to proceed pro se, or under your own representation. However, doing so is unwise. Courts are often hesitant to permit defendants to handle their cases alone, and judges might have a lot of questions for defendants who wish to proceed on their own.
Even if the charges seem non-serious or if you truly believe that the case will inevitably be dismissed or charges dropped, you should have a lawyer with you. Your attorney can protect your rights and legal interests, making it more difficult for prosecutors to prove their case against you.
The judicial system is infamously complicated. Your attorney should have the skills and knowledge to navigate rigid courtroom procedures while presenting the facts of your case and applying the relevant law. This is a lot to balance, and your lawyer is a necessary part of your case’s success.
Speak to Our Erie County, PA Criminal Defense Lawyers for Help Immediately
Reach out to The Law Offices of Lloyd Long by calling (215) 302-0171, and arrange a time for a free, confidential evaluation of your case and charges with our criminal defense attorneys.