How to Know – Do I Need a Criminal Defense Lawyer?

Thomas Gallagher, Minneapolis Criminal Lawyer
Thomas Gallagher, Minneapolis Criminal Lawyer

Should I retain a criminal defense attorney?

If you’ve never had to consider that question, that is good luck.  Neither you, nor anyone close to you has had a problem with police or prosecutors.  Live long enough though, and it could happen.  Being innocent isn’t always enough.

No one expects to be a police target, an arrest or charge.  Nobody really thinks they will need a criminal lawyer someday.

We don’t expect it.

So when something happens – how do you know whether you need to retain a criminal defense attorney?

What is the Value of Keeping Your Criminal Record Clean?

  1. Without any public criminal record, your possible future employers won’t be scared away by a criminal conviction.
  2. In the event of a criminal conviction, you could be disqualified from certain occupational licenses, as well.
  3. Certain convictions can also result in: loss of civil rights, such as voting and firearms rights;
  4. Removal and deportation from the U.S.; denial of naturalization; other immigration law consequences;
  5. Loss of student financial aid; offender registration, and other negative consequences.

For many, the largest, quantifiable impact will be to future income-stream. 

Do you need a criminal lawyer to help avoid these consequences?

How can a conviction cut your future income-stream?

If you assume a person is age 26 and will work until 66, that is 40 years.  Multiply 40 years times a conservative $10,000 estimated reduction in annual income as the result of a conviction.  That would amount to $400,000.  At eight percent interest, that’s over one million dollars in lost income age 66.

We’ve seen a $45,000 per year reduction in income for a client, while an expungement petition was pending in court.  So the real number could be in the several millions of dollars, depending upon career path.

Is an Executed Prison or Jail Sentence Probable, if Convicted?

If charged with a serious criminal offense, you may face a threat of jail or even prison time. And even for minor crimes, jail can be a real threat, especially where a person has prior convictions.

Judges rarely execute the statutory maximum incarceration term, however.

For felonies, the Sentencing Guidelines determine the presumptive sentence.  It’s based on the severity level of the offense of conviction, and criminal history score.  Though the Court can order upwardly or downwardly depart, the presumptive sentence is a good starting point.

We also look for any mandatory minimum sentencing statutes.  They can be severe, and longer than the presumptive guidelines sentence.  We must take them into account early on.

In non-felony, misdemeanor cases, up to one year in jail can be possible in Minnesota state court.

Do you need a criminal lawyer?  It is vital to consult a criminal defense lawyer to discuss these factors.

If the Case Could Impact Your Life, Then You Should Hire the Best Lawyer to Help

For many reasons, we want to:

It’s simple.  If the case could have a serious impact, then you should have a good lawyer’s help to protect you.  The government has its lawyers.  So should you.

You and your family are worth more than the quantifiable costs of having a conviction, or of an incarceration term.  A good criminal lawyer can help protect your future, your freedom, and your future income earning potential.

Protect your good name while you can – before it’s too late, before any guilty plea

Why Ethics Are Important in Choosing a Lawyer

A good criminal defense should be an advocate for you, your cause and your interests. You need a criminal lawyer who is loyal to you and your interests.

Where there is a conflict of interest, the lawyer’ ethical duty is to favor the client’s interest.  The profession and the courts regulate some situations where such a conflict can arise.

Questions that could raise a potential conflict of interest between a lawyer and client (or potential client):

  • “Should I hire a lawyer?”
  • “Why you, as opposed to another criminal lawyer?”
  • “What is an appropriate fee?”

It is difficult to quote a flat fee over the phone.  We should review the Complaint, along with a deeper discussion of client goals, and legal challenges.

But, try to see if the lawyer places your interests ahead of their own.  If they do, they’re more likely to be an ethical lawyer, loyal to you, worthy of your trust and faith.

Proportionate response

Once you’ve decided you need a criminal lawyer, how much lawyer should you bring to the fight?  Look to what is at stake.  On the extremes, who would face a murder charge without the best, and the most, lawyer they could afford?  But, with less at stake, many will deal with a speeding ticket without a lawyer.  Still, some will hire a good lawyer to fight their speeding ticket, but the cost will be relatively low.  So, we have a continuum.

The lawyering power you bring to bear, should be proportionate to what is at stake, in two ways:

  • Which lawyer
  • How much lawyer

Which lawyer you choose makes a big difference.  Choose the best you can find.

Once you’ve found the best, how much time do you need a criminal lawyer to devote to your case?  As much as possible.  The lawyer will be able to spend more time on cases where the fee is higher.  So know that the fee paid relates to the lawyer’s ability to spend time working on the case.  Too low a fee is a red flag.

“Luck is the residue of hard work” 

A smart lawyer, working hard on your case usually results in the best possible outcome.

About Minneapolis Criminal Lawyer Thomas Gallagher

Attorney Thomas Gallagher has helped his clients win for over three decades.  A recognized expert in criminal law, he often teaches Continuing Legal Education classes to other lawyers and judges.  And he often helps news reporters with background and commentary on events.  Other lawyers rate him one of the best criminal lawyers in Minnesota.  And his online reviews are mostly five stars.

Do you need a criminal lawyer?  Would you like Attorney Thomas Gallagher to help you?

Gallagher Criminal Defense Liberty-Lawyer.com logo wideQuestion?  You can call Minneapolis Criminal Lawyer Thomas Gallagher at  612 333-1500