How to Decide – Do I Need a Minnesota Criminal Defense Attorney?

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 luck.  No one expects to be targeted by police, arrested or charged with a crime.  No one really thinks they will need a criminal lawyer someday.  We don’t expect it.  So when one of these triggering events does happen – 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 you were convicted of a crime, 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.
How can a conviction reduce 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 per year, that would be over one million dollars in lost income by 66 years of age. We have seen clients suffer a $45,000 per year reduction in income 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.  Even for minor crimes, jail can be a real threat, especially where a person has prior convictions.  The statutory maximum incarceration term is rarely executed (but can predict the longest period of probation, if any).  For felonies, the presumptive sentence under the Minnesota or Federal Sentencing Guidelines can be determined based upon the severity level of the offense of conviction (if any) and criminal history score.  Though the Court can order upward or downward departures from the presumptive sentence, it is useful to look at the presumptive sentence as a starting point.  There are also mandatory minimum sentencing statutes in Minnesota and United States Statutes which can be cruel, severe, and lengthier than the presumptive guidelines sentence.  These must also be taken into account early on.  In non-felony, misdemeanor cases, up to one year in jail can be possible in Minnesota state court.

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 You Can to Help.

For many reasons, it is valuable to prevent a criminal charge, to prevent a criminal conviction, and to prevent a criminal sentence in Minnesota.

It’s simple:  If the case could have a serious impact upon your life, then it is vital to have a good lawyer’s help protecting your interests.  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.  A good criminal defense lawyer should be loyal to you and your interests.  Where there is a conflict of interest between the lawyer and client, the lawyer has an ethical duty to favor the client’s interest over their own.  Some situations where such a conflict can arise, are regulated by the profession and the courts.  One area that there is a potential conflict of interest between a lawyer and client (or potential client) is over the questions: “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, without reviewing the Complaint and other documentation, along with a deeper discussion of client goals for outcome, and the legal challenges to be overcome.  But, you should try to determine if the lawyer seems to place your interests ahead of their own.  If they do, then they are more likely to be an ethical lawyer, who will be loyal to you, worthy of your trust and faith, in probably one of the most important ventures you’ve ever faced.

Question?  You can call Minneapolis Criminal Lawyer Thomas Gallagher at (612) 333-1500 to discuss.