When faced with a criminal charge, you will need to decide whether or not to hire a criminal lawyer.
Some people may shy away from this due to the potential costs and hassle of engaging a lawyer, while others may think that they have the ability to conduct their own case and represent themselves.
While the latter is possible, there are potential dangers when it comes to defending yourself in a criminal case.
For instance, as a self-represented accused person, you will be held to the same standard of preparation expected from a lawyer. Thus, where legal procedures are not properly followed, your case may be disadvantaged or thrown out of court entirely.
Defending a case also requires a significant amount of effort and understanding of the legal system. Thus, you may well be gambling on your future by taking the case on by yourself.
Here are 4 reasons why you should seriously consider hiring a criminal lawyer to defend you in Singapore. A criminal lawyer can:
1) Ensure Your Rights are Protected
First and foremost, as a defendant, you will want to protect your rights in the entire course of a criminal investigation and prosecution. In order to do so, you must first be aware of what these rights are.
To name a few, some legal rights of a defendant include:
- The right of access to a lawyer;
- The right to amend or delete any part of the police statement before signing it;
- The right against self-incrimination – which means that a defendant is not compelled to say anything that may suggest that he/she is guilty of an offence.
By hiring a lawyer, you will be empowered in two main ways to protect your rights. First, you will be able to acquire timely legal advice and guidance from a professional, such that you will become aware of your rights.
Second, having a lawyer to speak to will ensure that you understand what these rights entail, which is extremely crucial in enabling you to assert them under appropriate circumstances. Thus, even for a defendant who is aware of their rights, engaging a lawyer may help to empower you in handling your charge(s) and case.
For instance, while you may know of your right against self-incrimination, and therefore think that keeping mum is to your advantage, this may not be ideal as the judge may be less inclined to believe your defence provided later on, and infer that you’re guilty instead.
2) Make a More Objective and Accurate Assessment of Your Case
As a defendant, you will wish to achieve the most favourable outcome for your case.
A professional criminal lawyer who deals with criminal cases on a frequent basis will be able to provide a realistic and objective assessment of your case, and narrow down the possible options for you.
For example, where there is strong evidence to convict you and it may be unrealistic to obtain acquittal (i.e. a judgment that you are not guilty) you may consider pleading guilty early to allow for the possibility of a lower punishment instead of claiming trial. By making such informed decisions, you can channel your time and effort properly to arrive at the best outcome for your case.
The benefit and importance of knowing where your case stands should not be overlooked. Bearing in mind that the criminal law process can be a long and arduous one, at the very least, you must first know what battle you are in for, and equip yourself with the necessary knowledge to make the right decisions along the way.
With a criminal lawyer who possesses the experience specific to your case, this would strengthen your ability to choose your next step wisely, and/or invoke the right arguments and defences.
3) Help to Prepare for the Trial
The complexities, effort and time involved in preparing for a trial should not be underestimated. What you may have seen in the courtroom is merely a fragment of the entirety of what a criminal proceeding entails. There is a significant amount of administrative and legal work involved in preparing for a trial.
Whether it is preparing documents, gathering evidence, or ensuring that all the relevant rules and legal procedures are complied with, there are numerous fine details that you may not be aware of, or may overlook along the way. For instance, there are certain formatting guidelines that must be adhered to when preparing court documents. Also, there are deadlines that must be strictly followed.
An experienced criminal lawyer will know the ins and outs of the law and criminal process, maximising efficiency and order, while minimising risks of non-compliance and the making of mistakes.
4) Develop a Stronger Defence Strategy
There are several defences that are provided for in the Penal Code, such as diminished responsibility and mistake, which may be used to obtain a more favourable outcome for you, such as reducing your charge. It ought to be noted that certain offences also have their own specific defences.
Since the burden of proving a defence is on you as the defendant, it is ideal to have a professional lawyer to represent you in invoking the appropriate defences.
Nonetheless, developing a strong defence strategy may not be as straightforward as invoking defences, especially in complex cases. Other tactics, such as:
- Demonstrating that the prosecution is unable to prove their case beyond reasonable doubt
- Challenging the usefulness of certain pieces of evidence presented by the prosecution
- Presenting a strong and convincing case theory, in particular, a compelling version of events with regard to the crime,
also have a role to play in mounting a challenge to the prosecution’s case and essentially, strengthening your defence strategy.
A criminal lawyer can help to achieve this by framing your arguments based on the evidence and facts in an advantageous and convincing manner.
In any criminal case, the stakes are high. It is therefore imperative that as a defendant, you are able to direct your time, effort and resources wisely in dealing with your case.
By engaging a criminal lawyer, you will be better positioned to know and assert your rights, make informed decisions, and ultimately achieve the most favourable outcome for your case.