Learn about your defendant rights and the court process.

Criminal Attorney Tacoma WAHiring a Criminal lawyer in Tacoma.

Looking to hire a criminal defense attorney in Tacoma? You have come to the right place for information on when, what, and how to hire a criminal attorney in Tacoma.

What does a criminal lawyer do?

A criminal defense lawyer specializes in defending those accused of criminal activity. When searching for your Tacoma defense attorney, make sure their qualifications are to your satisfaction.

What to look for in your search for hiring?

First, their qualifications do matter and you’ll want to see how much experience they have with criminal cases. Are you comfortable with them? Because communication is crucial between you and your lawyer and if you feel that there might be some miscommunication down the road, then continue to search.

Check out these five tips on hiring a defense attorney.

What you can expect from the lawyer.

Your lawyer’s sole purpose is to defend you and work with the prosecutor, whether that’s negotiating a deal, or getting some or all your charges dropped. When hiring a defense attorney there is no guarantee that your case will be dropped. For more information on what to expect, check out FindLaw’s criminal defense article.

Local criminal defense attorney law firms.

Michael Austin Stewart, website: Michael Austin, Phone: 253-383-5346, Location:1105 Tacoma Ave. South Tacoma, WA 98402, Experience: 23 years. Free Consultation. Reviews 3/5 on lawyers, 10/10 on Avvo, and 5/5 on google.

Newton & Hall, website: Newton & Hall Law Firm, Phone: 877-865-1084 (Kent) or 425-320-4644 (Bellevue). Their reviews on google are 5/5, Yelp 5/5 and 4.4/5 on Lawyers.

What questions to ask a defense lawyer?

STRATEGY

What is your lawyer’s preliminary evaluation of the case against you? What defenses are available to you? What is the best defense strategy? What are the risks and benefits of strategy? Can your attorney mount a successful defense at trial or is it in your best interests to plea bargain?

For 6 other questions to ask the lawyer, visit here. 

Do defendants have rights?

Yes, you as a defendant have rights such as the fifth amendment which protects yourself from self-incrimination which is also the right to remain silent when you’re arrested. So to clarify, what is the fifth amendment and when can it be used? The fifth amendment is your right to remain silent at the time of your arrest also known as the Miranda rights and it can also be used during a trial. 

Let’s dive deeper into your rights as a defendant to better prepare you so you also have confidence in knowing what is going on in your own case, there’s a saying in business, you don’t want to know more than the person you hire but you don’t want to not know enough to where you will walk into a tight space blind.

Other rights that you have as a defendant

We covered that you have the right to remain silent. But you also have the right to have a public trial which is known as the sixth amendment, meaning you can have family, friends, press and other civilians in the courtroom.  There is also the confrontation clause included in the sixth amendment which gives the defendants the right to be confronted by the witnesses against them which in turn allows for cross-examination, which means your defense will be able to question them.

A few other rights are the right not to be placed in double jeopardy which means you cannot be put on trial for the same offense twice, however, there are exceptions. You have the right to a speedy trial, a jury trial, rights to be represented by an attorney of your choosing. To read more about your rights as a defendant, visit Nolo’s legal encyclopedia involving defendants rights.

So, what is the motion of defense?

A motion of defense happens after the preliminary hearing and before a criminal case goes to trial, the prosecutor and the defense team argue what and who can and cannot be used in the trial. For example, this would also be the time a lawyer would argue that his witness is incompetent to stand trial. There are various types of pretrial motions and you’ll want to read up on some of them to get a better understanding which you can do here and here.

What is a preliminary hearing?

A preliminary hearing is when the judge decides the defendant is guilty or not guilty enough to stand trial. The judge will listen to both arguments of the defense ( you through your lawyers) and prosecutor. The prosecutor may have witnesses testify or show physical evidence to the judge.

Let’s take a step back and go through the arrest process.

For someone that has never been arrested or has a loved one in the system, you might be wondering how does the process start, so let’s dive in a bit before we continue on with what happens in the courts. During an arrest, the person is read the Miranda Rights, which we covered above, and then taken to the station, where that person will be booked.

During booking the police will ask basic information such as phone number, address, birthdate, and you’ll be fingerprinted and photographed. ( You might also do a line-up or provide a handwritten statement)

Once arrested and booked, the case will go to the prosecutor’s office where a decision will be made if charges should be filed against you.

Next is your arraignment, the charges will be read and you’ll be asked whether you plead guilty or not or plead no contest. This is will the judge will also tell you if bail is or not set.

If bail is set, that person or you will be able to put up the money with a promise to appear at future court dates and in which case you do, the bail money will be refunded. For more on learning about how to post bail, visit our partner website the Pierce County Jail Guide and their  Bail Bonds Page.

How can I find out about a public trial or the court dates?

If you are looking to show your support to someone that is currently facing trial, you’ll be able to find their court dates on the Pierce County Linx Roster under their name, remember that you can only attend if the trial is public and if that person is going to trial. Not every defendant goes to trial.

Some cases are dismissed or some trials are canceled due to new findings or if competency hearing is ordered to see if that person is competent enough to stand trial. Sometimes a plea will be made which altogether avoids going to trial.

According to Nolo ( a legal guide), there are over 90% of cases that end in guilty pleas. Majority of criminal cases never reach trial.

Wrapping up.

There are plenty of resources out there to help you become just a bit educated about the legal system, whether for you to know your rights, understand what is going on a loved one’s court process or just to become familiar with the law, there are plenty of resources online and at the local library.

The American Bar Association, for example, is just one of the greater resources out there along with NOLO. Knowing your rights even if its just enough to understand the terms used in court and in negotiations between your attorney and the prosecutor can go a long way.

There are legal app dictionaries that you can download to your phone such as the Black Law Dictionary that is widely used.

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