Being convicted of a crime in the state of Arizona can affect your employment prospects, your family, your ability to drive, your higher education opportunities, and your credit, not to mention the potential for heavy fines or prison sentences. The police in Arizona have a reputation for aggressive investigation and pursuit, and the laws and prosecution of crimes are equally tough.
Consulting with a lawyer as soon as possible after an arrest or after you become aware of an investigation will give you the best chance to avoid losing your freedom or facing other harsh consequences. This is not something you can handle on your own.
Criminal law involves cases where a citizen must defend himself against suspicions or charges against him originating with the government and involving some alleged crime. (Unlike civil law, in which a private party complains to and asks the court to settle something that is supposedly unfair, but often is not a crime.)
The government is a formidable adversary. Those investigating and prosecuting your case have may little personal stake in how much money or other resources are used to get the result they want in your case. Furthermore, the government not only brings the case to court, but some other branch of the government is likely the source of much of the evidence, as well as responsible for processing that evidence.
There is also an almost automatic presumption of credibility granted to many of the witnesses the government may present, such as police officers. These types of things are nearly impossible to imagine when one party brings a case against another in civil court, but they are par for the course in criminal law.
The point is not that the process is necessarily corrupt. In fact, there are many motivations driving the criminal justice system. These include genuine law and order goals as well as the desire to boost conviction statistics and appear touch on crime. But it’s important to be aware just how effective this coordinated system can be. It’s very important to have someone in your corner to minimize the impact on your life.
Even if you feel that the case against you is strong, keep in mind that having effective attorney representation can still make a big difference. You may be able to avoid conviction altogether, or the attorney may be able to help you avoid prison time even if convicted. Many felonies are probation eligible. And an attorney can also sometimes help you get a felony conviction removed from your record so you can minimize other damaging impacts to your life.
What about a court-appointed attorney?
You may be entitled to a court-appointed attorney if the prosecutor is seeking jail time and the court finds that you have a financial need. ‘Public defenders,’ as such attorneys are often called, offer a much better option than than trying to handle the case yourself. But they are often not the most experienced and may have a large number of cases they are trying to juggle.
The prosecutor isn’t obligated to look out for your interests if an inexperienced court-appointed attorney misses a couple of things that could help you, or isn’t able to aggressively pursue a strategy that benefits you due to a heavy caseload or limited resources. So even if you qualify financially for a court-appointed attorney, it is usually well worth your while to choose your own attorney if you can. Some experienced criminal lawyers may offer affordable rates or payment plans.
What does a good criminal defense attorney do?
An attorney should meet with you, listen to your situation and concerns in detail, answer all your questions, and study the details of your case. Ariano & Associates offer a free consultation to do just that and discuss your options with you. Every case is different and it’s very important to take the time to cover all the bases.
One job of the criminal defense attorney is to scrutinize every aspect of the government’s case, including the police investigation, for errors and weaknesses, and look for every opportunity to improve the outcome for our clients. The attorney should work to find mistakes made during the investigation or with the handling of evidence, including mistakes in interviewing witnesses. A criminal defense attorney also seeks out overlooked evidence or witnesses. In the end, your case can potentially be dismissed or the charges greatly reduced. Ariano & Associates experienced trial attorneys know every aspect of the law, police procedure and court practice inside out.
At Ariano & Associates we never pass your case off to our staff. Your lawyer will work with you directly every step of the way, and is always just a phone call away when you have questions. And whether you call us regularly or not, we take the initiative to keep you updated.
Without the overhead costs of running a big law firm, we aren’t pressured to pack in as many clients as possible. So we can afford to take the time to develop lasting personal and business relationships with our clients and still keep our fees affordable.
If you have been charged with or are being investigated for assault, arson, burglary, computer crimes, criminal damages, disorderly conduct, domestic violence, drug possession, forgery, a juvenile offense, kidnapping, a probation violation, robbery, a sex crime, theft, a traffic violation, trespassing, or a weapons charges – or any other crime from shoplifting or DUI to white collar crimes or homicide – call us today for a free consultation with a Tucson criminal law attorney.
What’s the difference between a misdemeanor and a felony?
First, you should realize that a misdemeanor can be quite serious and involve up to 6 months of jail time, substantial fines, loss of driving rights and other penalties. However, felonies are generally more serious with higher maximum sentences; felonies also affect your voting rights and may affect your employment, credit or educational opportunities.
If charged with a felony, you always have a right to a jury trial, whereas you have a right to a jury trial for only certain particular misdemeanor charges.
Stopping an investigation before a charge is filed
If you have been arrested but not yet charged, or if you have reason to believe that you are being investigated, call us for a free consultation as soon as possible. The sooner you act, the better your chances are to minimize the damages, or even prevent charges from being filed.
What should I do if I’m arrested?
Though this article [insert link to Traffic Stop page if it’s added to the site] is about DUI traffic stops in particular, the same principles apply: foremost among them, politely tell the officer that you want to speak privately with an attorney before answering any questions.
The bottom line
It’s important to be aware of your situation, as a defendant, when you are up against a system that has an incentive to convict you and has some distinct advantages stacked against you to help make that happen.
For any criminal charge, it’s almost always in your interest to choose your own attorney. When you’re facing jail time or costly fines, a dedicated attorney on your side can protect you. In many cases, it is well worth it to carefully choose the best attorney you can possibly afford.
Learn about the steps involved in a criminal case on the official Arizona Courts website.
About Ariano & Associates:
We are experienced trial lawyers working tirelessly to get the best results for our clients. We aren’t like large firms that have high overhead. So our firm can take the time that big firms can’t to establish lasting personal and business relationships with our clients in a comfortable and friendly office environment. Call us any time, day or night, for a free consultation.