Criminal Defense – How your attorney works for you in a misdemeanor criminal case:
One of the major benefits of hiring our firm to protect your interests in court is that we take care of the management of your case so that you don’t have to. We understand that being arrested can be an incredibly traumatic and disruptive event. At the Law Offices of Robert Ernenwein, we see it as our job to handle the details of the day to day administration of your case so that you can focus on moving on with your life.
We respect that placing your criminal case in our hands requires a great deal of trust. To ease your mind and explain this process to you, we’ve distilled our thirty-one years of experience, training, and skill into the following outline of what to expect from the different stages of a criminal case.
Pre-filing and Investigation:
The earliest stage in the life of a criminal case is the “Pre-filing and Investigation” stage. It is at this point when the police and prosecutor are still collecting evidence and deciding if criminal charges will be filed against you.
The earlier you retain us, the more time we have to work on getting you the best result possible.
In the pre-filing and investigation stage our firm takes the lead in dealing with the Government. We are able to stand between you and a criminal investigation. For instance, once retained, our firm may choose to write a “Letter of Representation” to the Police, directing them to cease questioning you and to not contact you directly outside of our presence.
Another key advantage of retaining the Law Offices of Robert Ernenwein comes into play in the pre-filing stage of a case; the advantage of our respect and stature in the legal community. Many of our longstanding relationships with members of the criminal justice system are older and stronger than the courthouses we appear in. In certain instances, where good cause for dismissal exist, our firm is able to draw upon our established status in the local community to contact law enforcement and obtain dismissals of cases before they’re even filed. This stops the filing of your case before it even starts, minimizing the stain of a criminal record on your name.
Once a criminal case has been filed you are directed to appear in court to hear the charges leveled against you. If you are represented by a court-appointed lawyer or choose to represent yourself you are generally on the hook to appear personally in court for each and every court date.
Our practice is built on the fundamental understanding that the less the Police, the Prosecutor, and Judge intrude into your daily life, the better it is for our clients. In the majority of misdemeanor cases we are authorized by law to appear in court on your behalf: we go to court so you don’t have to. As your lawyers it’s our job to make sure this case doesn’t disrupt your job, obligations, and family life.
In some instances we will direct clients to appear in court for tactical bargaining reasons, to allow your attorney to better present your story to the Prosecutor or the Judge. If this is the case, your attorney will counsel you on this strategy and make it very clear what is expected of you and when.
If retained before your arraignment, our firm will appear on your behalf at the first court date, enter a plea of not guilty, obtain all of the court paperwork for your case, and set additional court dates without the need for you to worry about any of the details.
The pre-trial stage covers everything from the filing of the criminal complaint to the resolution of the case; this process takes approximately 90 to 120 days. We call this part of the process “the negotiation stage”. This is the time of the proceedings where our lawyers do the most of our work. It’s also the most frustrating part of the process for many clients because of how drawn out it can be. Allow this section to explain to you what to expect during this time.
Over the course of multiple court appearances your attorney will obtain police reports and other evidence in relation to the charges pending against you. Your attorney may also research legal theories and draft motions in your defense. This is also the part of the process where your attorney will negotiate with the Prosecution to get you the best outcome possible.
If there are any important developments or court requirements regarding your case that you need to know about, our office will contact you immediately to make sure you are kept abreast of any changes to the status of your case.
Once we have obtained all of the crucial materials for your case, your attorney will contact you for a meeting to go over the evidence and discuss your legal options. In this meeting your attorney will discuss the status of your case, counsel you on how strong the evidence is, hear what your concerns are, and work together with you in coming up with a plan for continuing forward.
After your attorney has counseled you, your case will either proceed to the plea-bargaining phase or the trial phase.
Option A: Plea bargaining
There are many programs available to misdemeanor clients to minimize the impact of a criminal case on your record. Many of the plea deals that our firm is able to secure for our clients are specially tailored to the facts of the case and the needs of the client. For instance, for our clients with immigration considerations our firm works to secure a plea bargain that will have a minimal impact on your citizenship status. For clients with jobs that rely heavily on driving, our firm works to secure a plea bargain that impacts your ability to drive a motor vehicle as little as possible.
Our firm has extensive experience in obtaining diversion, deferred entry of judgment programs, and informal probation to minimize the effect a criminal conviction will have on your record. Whatever the special needs of your case, we will work hard to secure the best possible outcome available to you.
Option B: Trial:
It is a fact in the criminal justice system that the vast majority of cases are resolved before a trial ever occurs. More often than not our lawyers are able to secure an outcome for you to avoid the costly and emotionally draining trial experience, but this is not always the case. In the situations where the Prosecution refuses to reach a workable agreement on your case, or you are adamant about having your day in court, we are prepared to stand by your side and shepherd you through a trial.
With hundreds of trials under our belt and tried and true network of experts and investigators at our disposal, our firm will fight for your interests in open court.
Post-Conviction and Beyond:
In the event that your case resolves with a criminal conviction we are prepared to support you in your legal obligations. Our firm will provide you with a clear and organized list of directions, dates, and program referral information for completing court-directed requirements. While fulfilling your legal obligations is your own responsibility, it’s our firm’s job is to make those obligations as easy to understand as possible so you can complete your work and put your case behind you.
Lastly, once your court obligations are complete, we are available to discuss expunging the case from your criminal record. Our goal is to work with you to minimize the impact of this case so that you can move on with your life without the worry of a criminal conviction on your record.
If anything important occurs regarding your case, we will absolutely contact you.
It’s very important to make sure that our law firm has the most up to date telephone, email, and address information for you so that we can contact you when the “negotiation stage” is over and there is a change in the status of your case.
You’re welcome to contact the firm at any time to obtain information on the status of your case. That’s why we’re here, to use our expertise and strength to shepherd you through this frightening and unfamiliar process. While your case is going on it’s also important to remember that…
This process takes time.
Rome wasn’t built in a day and your case will likely last for several months. This is normal and it doesn’t mean that anything is going wrong. It means that your attorneys are working hard in negotiations or legal motions to get the best outcome possible for you. That is our job and we take it very seriously.