HAVE YOU BEEN ACCUSED OF:
Defense Q & A
Please note that each jurisdiction has its own specific rules. It is always best to discuss your case directly with a criminal attorney. The information provided on this web site is general in nature only and may not be applicable to your specific case or jurisdiction. Feel free to call our criminal lawyers at any time day or night at 855-LAW-PRO1 (855-529-7761) to discuss your specific situation.
- When should I hire a criminal lawyer?
- Why should I hire a private criminal lawyer as opposed to a public defender?
- What are the ramifications of a conviction on my record?
- How do I pick the right criminal lawyer?
- How much does a criminal lawyer normally cost?
- Should it cost me money to get a criminal lawyer to consult with me on my case?
- How is your law firm different from others?
- Can I appeal my case
- What exactly is an appeal?
- How do I get an appeal?
- I plead guilty. Can I get out of it?
- I plead guilty. Can I appeal my conviction?
- Do I get to present my case again in the appeal?
- What will my appeal be about?
- I already had an appeal. Is there anything else I can do?
- I keep hearing about “2254.” What is that?
- How long does an appeal take?
WHEN SHOULD I HIRE A CRIMINAL LAWYER?
It is best to hire a criminal lawyer as soon as you are aware you are facing criminal charges. Often you are notified that you may be facing charges before they are actually filed. In many instances, law enforcement will attempt to speak with you before obtaining an arrest warrant. (See the section that covers the pre-file or investigative stage of a case). You may also be served with a warrant to search your property. This is a crucial stage in your case, and it is important you speak to a criminal lawyer that understands and fights for your rights and is aggressive in defending you.
If you do not have the benefit of an early warning and you are arrested, it is even more important you hire a criminal attorney immediately! Even before you attempt to post bail, your criminal lawyer can be helpful. Your attorney can gain initial information about your case, inform you of your rights and help get your bail lowered, or in some cases, eliminated entirely.
You will typically not be able to speak to a public defender until your first court appearance, which may be days after your arrest. Meeting your public defender on the day of your first appearance affords little time to discuss your case or court procedures with him or her.
WHY SHOULD I HIRE A PRIVATE CRIMINAL LAWYER AS OPPOSED TO A PUBLIC DEFENDER?
You likely won’t meet your court appointed attorney or public defender until your first court appearance. This is far too late. There a many mistakes people make before this point, such as making self-incriminating statements to a member of law enforcement. These potentially life-altering mistakes could easily be avoided with the advice of an experienced and fierce criminal attorney.
The courts are very busy, and you will find that a public defender is likely not yet familiar with any information about your case. You may immediately feel your case is just another file being hurried through the legal system.
Although a public defender should provide you competent representation, very often they don’t have the time or the resources to mount an extensive defense. They usually have only one or two investigators who must devote their time to the more serious cases, such as murders. Ultimately, a defendant represented by a public defender receives the representation from an overloaded justice system. This means your defense is out of your control.
Most importantly, you do not get to select your criminal lawyer. The public defender is appointed to you by the court, and you will typically not have the same criminal lawyer throughout your case as it progresses through stages. He or she may be very inexperienced, as “rookies” are normally placed by their superiors onto new cases in the early stages in order to gain experience. This is no time to be a guinea pig for a training lawyer; the early stages of a case are critical to the outcome.
The only way you can exert control over your defense is by hiring competent, experienced private criminal lawyer. A law firm will have depth of resources, such as experts and investigators, a staff of legal researchers, and extensive hands-on experience. The potential consequences of a dirty record are severe and life altering. It is vital your criminal attorney understand the rest of your life is at stake. Your criminal lawyer should do his or her best to protect you, not treat you as just another file on an overflowing desk. Read about the pros and cons of public defenders versus private attorneys.
WHAT ARE THE RAMIFICATIONS OF A CONVICTION ON MY RECORD?
The obvious consequence is incarceration. This is bad enough in and of itself, but if you have any health problems or medical needs, this is the last place you want to be. Prison staff is not paid to care about what time you need to take your medication, and you have no say over where or how you are housed.
Few people consider the consequences beyond incarceration. A criminal record will haunt you for the rest of your life, interfering with employment, government services, credit and housing. Certain convictions require registration as a “sex offender” which literally damages your reputation and makes you a virtual outcast in society.
Although certain states allow for records to be expunged, not all states do. There is no constitutional right to have your record expunged. Moreover, even if you can get the offenses on your record expunged, you are required to register as a sex offender, it is unlikely you will eliminate this responsibility. In the case of non-U.S citizens, a felony conviction can and often does lead to deportation, even if you have lived here as a legal resident for a substantial amount of time.
Do not take a conviction on your record lightly. Before you face these dire penalties, make sure you and your criminal lawyer are doing everything to protect your life and future. Ask yourself, will you have a registration requirement? Will you have the ability to expunge your record? Has your criminal attorney examined and explained all of your options to you in a way that you understand? Criminal convictions are very serious, and all of your decisions must be well-informed.
HOW DO I PICK THE BEST CRIMINAL LAWYER?
This is often one of the most difficult decisions to make. How do you know the criminal lawyer you are considering is going to do a good job for you? You have never seen him or her in action – you are just meeting him or her for the first time.
There are a few factors you can consider which will enable you to assess if the criminal lawyer you are considering is the right one for you. First of all, experience in handling your particular type of case is crucial. Your defense lawyer should be knowledgeable with court procedures, rules, case law and should also have good trial experience.
In court, you have only two choices: plead guilty or go to trial. If you choose to go to trial, you need to know if your criminal lawyer is comfortable in front of a jury, skilled at cross-examining witnesses, experienced at advocating to the judge, and not afraid to challenge the prosecutor on your behalf. Remember, our justice system is an adversarial system-these skills come with years of actual courtroom experience and an expert ability to strategize the best defense.
You should also discuss possible defenses and strategies associated with your case with any criminal lawyer you intend to hire. Your criminal lawyer should at least have an idea of an approach to your case almost from the outset. He or she should also have a sense if your situation requires the use of experts or investigators. Remember, it is not up to you to plan how you are going to defend yourself!
Another question you may wish to consider is, does your criminal lawyer specialize in criminal law? You need to know whether your lawyer practices defense on a grand scale. I’m sure you’ve heard the expression, “A Jack of all Trades and a Master of None.” It’s best that your lawyer practice defense with great intensity. Criminal laws are constantly being tested and changed. It is extraordinarily difficult to keep up with these changes in one area of law, let alone two or three. The more specialized your criminal lawyer is in a particular area, the better for you as the recipient of the benefit of his or her exclusive knowledge. (Certain areas of the country do not allow for an attorney to make a living practising only a one discipline exclusively, but it is still important that your lawyer is well practised in criminal law).
Finally, you should consider your personal comfort level. Is your criminal lawyer taking the time to listen to your situation? Are you comfortable speaking with them? Do they answer your questions? Are they responsive? Do they give you the impression that they are confident in handling your case, and do they make you feel as if they will fight for you? All of these considerations are important in establishing your personal comfort level with a criminal lawyer. As with any situation, you want to feel comfortable with the person who you are working with, especially when that individual has your life in their hands!
HOW MUCH DOES A CRIMINAL LAWYER NORMALLY COST?
There is no hard-and-fast rule here. Criminal lawyers bill on a very wide range of prices, however there are some earmarks that may help you establish what a reasonable fee is in your particular situation.
The severity of a charge is usually a primary factor in establishing the fee. The more severe the consequences of the case and the more complicated the case, the higher the fee a criminal lawyer will bill. Simply put, there is a lot more involved in preparing for a murder case than for a drunk driving case.
Whether your criminal lawyer charges a flat or hourly fee, legal representation on a murder offense is going to cost substantially more than a drunk driving case because of the time and preparation involved. The experience and reputation of the criminal lawyer or the firm is also a factor in establishing the fee. Again, common sense dictates – the more experienced the lawyer and the more established his or her track record, the higher the fee. Depending on the type of charge you are facing, this experience is exactly what you may require, and it will cost more.
Criminal lawyers are not commodities. No two criminal lawyers are exactly alike in terms of skill, experience and the ability to help you in your case. What you are shopping for is the best criminal attorney who can give you the best outcome for your case. Find the right lawyers first. Then, consider price.
The old adage is true: You get what you pay for. Cheaper is not better. Remember, your life on the line. Saving a few dollars on a cheaper lawyer is not worth a few years in prison. Experience counts!
DOES IT COST ME MONEY TO GET A CRIMINAL LAWYER TO CONSULT WITH ME ON MY CASE?
Every lawyer is free to conduct business as they see fit. Some criminal lawyers do charge for consultations, others do not.
At LibertyBell Law Group, we do not feel it is fair to charge a potential client simply to answer a couple questions regarding the allegations against them or the charges they may be facing. Therefore, our criminal lawyers do not charge potential clients for their first initial consultation.
Moreover, as a potential client, everything discussed regarding your case is held under a strict privilege of attorney-client confidentiality and cannot be revealed outside of the conversation.
Even if you never hire our criminal lawyers, your privacy is assured. Knowledge is power. Call our criminal lawyers now for your free consultation.
HOW IS YOUR LAW FIRM DIFFERENT FROM OTHERS?
LibertyBell Law Group follows a somewhat different business model from the typical law firm. The mission of our firm is to consistently deliver the best possible case results for our clients. Focusing our business around this goal caused us to organize and conduct our business a bit differently from a traditional law firm.
Most law firms are local. On the surface, this makes sense. After all, most criminal lawyers are licensed to practice only in their home state, and most clients prefer a lawyer who lives in their town.
The problem with this model is it limits law firms to a small pool of legal resources and talent in their home town. We have found that every client and case is unique, and we often need to draw from talent, experience and strategies that simply are not available in a small local law firm. Moreover, local law firms and sole lawyers are subject to local politics. Criminal lawyers may have personal and business relationships with other lawyers, prosecutors and judges. This can sometimes limit their aggressiveness in court, particularly in politically sensitive cases that are related to a sexual offense and generate a lot of social outcry.
To ensure our clients get the best possible defense regardless of the circumstances of their case, we use local criminal lawyers who have detailed knowledge of your local court procedures. However, we back them with a vast team of criminal lawyers and experts that allows us to share resources and knowledge on a tremendous scale.
For example, if a particular defense strategy was useful in a case in Detroit, we can apply that knowledge to a similar case in Los Angeles. Similarly, if your case requires a criminal attorney with specific skills not available in your community, we can fly in the best criminal lawyers from anywhere in the country for your case.
The size of our law firm allows us the luxury to focus intensely on your defense. Our law firm is staffed with specialists with tremendous experience in cases like yours and trial skills that have been honed over years of practice in this field. It also allows us to hire only the best criminal lawyers in the country.
Perhaps the most important difference is teamwork. It is impossible for a single lawyer to have all of the skills and time needed for every case. lawyers are busy, and it takes a lot of work to get the results we deliver. Therefore, we always assemble a defense team for every client. The team includes a professional case manager, lead lawyer, local counsel and support staff. This team approach allows us to be available to our clients 24 hours per day and respond instantly to the needs of any case.
CAN I APPEAL MY CASE?
This is generally a case-specific question. Although the right of appeal is present prior to conviction, the right can be restricted and even eliminated in the course of a case being resolved by a guilty or no contest plea.
Generally, the purpose of an appeal is to challenge errors of the case and/or facts arising during the court proceedings. Appeals require a very surgical, strategic and creative approach. If mistakes were made in the trial court, you need an experienced appellate lawyer to put things right.
As with anything, timing is everything! The time window within which to appeal is extremely tight. The moment you are convicted is the same moment you should begin considering your appeal options.
See the Post-Conviction FAQs for more details on attacking a conviction.
WHAT EXACTLY IS AN APPEAL?
An appeal is a proceeding that occurs after conviction and sentencing. It is the mechanism by which legal errors made in the trial court proceedings are corrected.
HOW DO I GET AN APPEAL?
You must actively give notice of your intention to appeal. This is done by filing a notice in the proper court within the time limit specified in your state. In many states, the notice generally must be filed within 30 days of the day you are sentenced – there are a few states where that time is shorter or longer. The time to file the notice in a federal case is 10 days.
I PLEAD GUILTY. CAN I GET OUT OF IT?
The answer to this question is case-specific. It depends on whether your state allows for the withdrawal of a guilty plea, and, if so, at what time and on what conditions.
CAN I APPEAL MY CONVICTION EVEN THOUGH I PLEAD GUILTY?
This depends on the circumstances of your case. Keep in mind that accepting a plea bargain means that you have plead guilty.
In some states, a defendant can still bring an appeal even if he or she plead guilty. In other states, a defendant can only bring an appeal if he or she specifically reserved the ability to do so, or only if given permission to do so by the court. In other states, pleading guilty results in the permanent loss of the ability to appeal. Federal guilty pleas bring a myriad of technicalities, but typically result in the permanent loss of the ability to appeal.
DO I GET TO PRESENT MY CASE AGAIN IN THE APPEAL?
No. An appeal is an academic endeavor limited only to examining whether errors were made during the proceedings in the trial court. You cannot call witnesses or present evidence and there is no jury.
WHAT WILL MY APPEAL BE ABOUT?
Each case is like a snowflake: UNIQUE!
An appellate lawyer will review the “record” looking for any arguable legal errors. The “Record” is the written composite of all the trial court proceedings including, for example, motions filed by the prosecutor and/or the defense lawyer, transcripts of all substantive hearings and jury instructions.
Examples of legal errors include: prosecutorial misconduct, instructional error (errors in the jury instructions given or not given), and error in the admission or exclusion of certain evidence. There are a multitude of potential claims to bring in an appeal. An experienced appellate lawyer with a trained eye should comb through your case to try to flesh out and argue any claim he or she can find that is viable.
I ALREADY HAD AN APPEAL. IS THERE ANYTHING ELSE I CAN DO?
Virtually every state provides for a mechanism other than an appeal to challenge constitutional errors made in a case. It is an action generally referred to as a “collateral” action or attack, and is brought by means of a motion, application or petition.
The specifics of how, when and by whom such an action can be brought depend upon each state’s individual rules and procedures. An experienced appellate lawyer should first evaluate your case to determine whether you still have time to bring an action and whether you actually have viable claims to bring in such an action.
I KEEP HEARING ABOUT A “2254.” WHAT IS THAT?
“2254” is the slang, short-hand name for a federal statute – 28 U.S.C. �2254.
This statute allows inmates in state correctional facilities to file a “collateral” action in the federal court in the federal district in which the inmate is housed. It is literally a civil action brought by a prisoner against his or her “jailer” demanding release from illegal detention.
A 2254, also known as a Petition for Writ of Habeas Corpus, is an exceedingly complicated action and should not be handled by a lawyer without extensive experience in this area. A single mistake can foreclose this action permanently.
HOW LONG DOES AN APPEAL TAKE?
Appeals are not quick and may take several months to resolve.
After the notice is filed, the Record must be prepared. This takes time and coordination amongst court clerks and court reporters. Once the Record is prepared, your attorney needs time to thoroughly review it, speak with you for any clarification, research case law and then write the necessary briefs. Often times, there will be oral argument before the court in order to assist the court in deciding the appeal. Once all that is done, you then have to wait for the court to issue its decision; and they never seem to be in any hurry!
CALL OUR CRIMINAL LAWYERS NOW
As a client, you can now draw on the combined talents and resources of a large defense law firm with one goal — getting the best possible result for your case.
Call 855-LAW-PRO1 (855-529-7761) now for a free consultation with one of our aggressive criminal lawyers. Early intervention is the key to our mutual success.
At A Glance
- Expert legal strategist.
- Experienced in both prosecution and defense.
- Relentless fighter for her clients with results to prove it.
- Received the National Top 100 Trial Lawyers Award
- Featured in Time Magazine’s “Leaders of Criminal Defense” in the 100 Most Influential People edition.
Executive Managing Attorney Gina Tennen is a renowned leading advocate of personal liberties. Her meticulous trial preparation and exceptional ability to pursue every possible defense has earned her the admiration of clients and respect from prosecutors, judges, and other criminal attorneys all over the nation.
Lawyer Tennen began her career as a Senior Law Clerk for one of the toughest District Attorney’s offices in the country where she gained remarkable experience in juvenile crimes, elder abuse, parole hearings, child abuse, sex and other serious crimes. Her experience at the District Attorney’s Office armed her knowledge and case strategy in exploiting the other side’s weaknesses for the client’s advantage and building a rock solid defense. Criminal attorney Tennen’s experience on both sides and brilliant maneuvering throughout is evidenced in her winning track record. In fact, even before earning her law degree, she was instrumental in getting excellent results on several criminal cases outshining her peers.
A consummate strategist and top criminal attorney, lawyer Tennen works tirelessly on many high profile criminal cases. She is known as a relentless fighter who never gives up on any case. Whether the case is hers or handled by another criminal defense attorney from LibertyBell Law Group, no matter how small the case may seem she asserts that every client deserves the right to the best legal representation.
It is her deep belief and what she has built her entire career and lifelong dedication to that there is always hope for every client and every avenue should be pursued regardless of the time and energy it takes. For criminal attorney, Gina Tennen, devoting the finest criminal defense for clients is a habit and talent that you must apply and do all the time.
You demand the best defense. Take hold of your life and speak to our defense attorneys by calling 855-LAW-PRO1 (855-529-7761) now.
Founder Gina Tennen and all the defense attorneys at LibertyBell Law Group uphold that when the bell rings, it rings for life and liberty for all.
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WHAT OUR CUSTOMERS SAY:
Gina was like a lioness protecting her cub.
I hired Gina and her team for my son who was facing 10 years for something they said he did when he was 17 years old. Gina was like a lioness protecting her cub. She did not stop. She fought hard and was able to defend the charges. We are so grateful to her and her team. They gave us our son. He recovered his life!– L. W.
Best defense lawyers in the country.
I hired this law firm in 2014 for my son who was facing 16 years in prison for a felony robbery. Lina Helou answered all our questions. I was extremely distraught regarding what my son was facing but Lina comforted me and told me that it would be okay. And thank goodness LibertyBell saved my son from going to jail and they were able to obtain only 3 years of probation. I could not have hired a better law firm for my son and if you want the best defense call LibertyBell Law Group. Thank God for this great group of lawyers.– V. J.
A great team of lawyers.
I do not have enough words to describe how incredible the experience with this firm was. They work very hard to make sure you have winning results. I could not have asked for better service from the moment I called, until my case was over. I was glad I made the right choice. Thank you again LibertyBell Law Group!– S. O.
She took her time to review all of my evidence and proved my innocence.
My father had found this group through his company and coworkers. I was assigned Gina Tennen and I cannot explain in just a review on how gratefull I am to be working with her. My case was an accusation of unlawful sex. This had looked extremely bad on my part since I was in a fraternity and she was in a sorority. During these times with Greek life, there are too many bad stigmas surrounding these organizations. Gina had believed in me and knew that I was innocent and that these accusations just were not true. She took her time to review all of my evidence and proved my innocence. I totally recommend this law group because they are willing to put in the work to help your situation.– C. D.
Gina always kept me fully aware of how the case was proceeding.
When I first heard I was under a criminal investigation, I initially thought I would try and resolve this in the best way possible, without legal representation, as we were all interested in a "just" outcome. I quickly discovered that was not the case and contacted Gina at Liberty Bell. She clearly described the expectations and the choices available to me. She was always available to me, and when I called, if she couldn't talk with me at that time, she would quickly get back to me. Gina always kept me fully aware of how the case was proceeding. Her fee's were stipulated up front, as well as what those fees covered and what they did not.– S. B.
Attorney Gina Tennen was on point from day one.
Attorney Gina Tennen was on point from day one putting pressure on the sherrif's office to get things handled. With Child molestation accusatinos being thrown around Gina and Attorney Castro were great at keeping the pressure on and had no charges filled. The DCFS indications were appealed and we won with flying colors. Great service, great work, and will use again for all legal matters.– A. B.