When you have been arrested for a criminal charge, your case will go through several stages. First is when you get arrested. At that point, you have not been found guilty of a crime. At that point you have only allegedly committed a crime, and a court of law must find you guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.
The first Court appearance you make is called the arraignment. At the arraignment, you will be asked to enter a plea and will be presented with a plea bargain by the Prosecutor. You can accept the plea and plead guilty right away, or you can choose to decline the plea and plead not guilty or no contest.
If you plead not guilty, you will be given a date for Pre-Trial. At the Pre-Trial hearing you still have the opportunity to accept a settlement offer from the Prosecutor. However, you must be able to determine whether an offer is a good one, or whether you should continue on to trial. If you do not have any legal experience or have not dealt with criminal cases before, it is difficult to determine.
This is why people will often accept the first offer at Arraignment and will not consult with an experienced San Diego Criminal Defense Lawyer. However, if they plead not guilty and continue onto trial, they may still consult an attorney. It is best, in any case, to speak to an attorney before entering a plea or appearing on your own.
If you hire an attorney right after you get arrested, you do not have to deal with the hassle of taking off work and appearing in Court. Furthermore, it is a stressful time to deal with your options when you have not dealt with it before. An attorney takes care of everything for you, so you can focus on other things in your life.
When you have an attorney representing you, at any stage of the case, you get the benefit of a knowledgeable specialist that is helping set up and negotiate a good offer to help settle your case. Attorneys will gather the right evidence, study surveillance tapes and speak to available witnesses. They will prepare the strengths of your case and continue to negotiate with Prosecutors so that they have already set the stage for a good offer the very first time they appear in Court.
A Criminal Defense lawyer is available to help you at any stage of criminal proceedings. However, it is advisable to seek help prior to appearing in Court for your arraignment. It not only helps the attorney have an adequate amount of time to prepare for a good offer, it also gives you the peace of mind you need. In the very least, it is a good idea to speak to an attorney after your arrest. Consultations are free and within a few minutes you will feel confident in your decision to hire an expert.