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Why criminal defendants should work with an experienced attorney at their first appearance

Some of our readers probably know somebody who claims that they have been or are successful in weaseling their way out of a speeding or parking ticket, or criminal offenses. Whether one does this by playing dumb, sweet-talking or by offering bribes, it is obviously never a good idea. Regardless of the circumstances of the case, the best course of action is always to consult an experienced attorney and built the strongest possible defense case.

The time to negotiate in the criminal process, rather than upon arrest, is first of all at one’s first appearance, or arraignment. When a criminal defendant first appears in court, he or she is presented with the charges against him- or herself and is given the opportunity to enter a plea. Criminal defendants typically also have the opportunity to meet with the prosecutor handling the case and to negotiate the charges, depending on the circumstances of the case. 

Criminal defendants do themselves a favor when they work with an experienced defense attorney at their arraignment. A skilled advocate can help not only in explaining the process and making sure a defendant knows what is going on, but also in negotiating with the prosecutor and determining the best way to proceed with the case based on how that negotiation works out.

In some cases, prosecutors will be prepared to offer a defendant a deal, and an experienced advocate can help the defendant to identify such an offer and proceed accordingly. In other cases, the prosecutor will not budge in the offer and an advocate can help the defendant decide where to go from there—specifically how to go forward with the case from a tactical point of view. Whether or not a prosecutor’s offer is good depends on various factors, including the nature of the charges and the severity of the penalties requested by the prosecutor. Whatever the case may be, working with a skilled advocate ensures that a defendant has proper guidance and advocacy so that he or she is best situated to see the case through to a satisfactory result.

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Mark J. O'Brien's cases have been featured in:
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