Legal Insurance

Here’s When You May Need a Defense Lawyer

3 min read
Mar 28, 2023

If someone is facing criminal charges that may result in paying a fine, probation or possible jail time, they may need a defense lawyer to represent them.

One likely needs a defense lawyer if they've been charged with a felony, but may even need one for a misdemeanor charge, such as a traffic ticket.

Read on to explore what a defense attorney does, specific circumstances when someone may need to retain a lawyer, and what to look for in one.

What does a criminal defense attorney do?

A criminal defense attorney, also known as a criminal defense lawyer, is a legal professional who represents individuals who’ve been charged with a crime. An experienced criminal defense attorney has a deep understanding of the legal system and typically specializes in one area of the law.

When may I need a criminal defense attorney?

If you’re charged with a crime, deciding what steps to take and whether or not you need a criminal defense attorney can be difficult to think about. An experienced criminal defense attorney can help you understand your rights and help you make informed decisions about your case.

It’s important to know that even if you’re not facing formal criminal charges, you may still need assistance from a criminal defense attorney. For example, if you’re asked to answer questions by law enforcement, an attorney can help protect your rights and ensure you don’t incriminate yourself.

There are several types of crimes you can be charged with that fall under either a misdemeanor or felony. Misdemeanors are crimes that are considered less serious, and they can carry a jail sentencing of less than a year or other punishments like probations, fines, and community service.1 Felonies are more serious crimes that come with heavier sentences.2

When looking for a defense lawyer, it’s helpful to start with someone who specializes in the criminal case and knows the local courts. You can find local lawyers online who focus on specific areas of the law, such as traffic tickets, fraud cases, and more.

You can also see if your employer offers legal insurance as a benefit. Legal insurance gives you access to a network of licensed attorneys who can help. Rather than paying standard attorney’s fees, you pay the insurance plan’s premium. Be sure to review what your legal insurance plan covers, as some may not cover all criminal defense cases.

What should you look for in a defense lawyer?

To find the right criminal defense attorney, you’ll likely want to ensure they have relevant experience to the case. You also may want to consider their track record of success and if they’re a good communicator to ensure you're getting the best representation.

6 questions to ask your defense attorney

Here’s a list of questions you can ask to help you find the right lawyer for your case:

  1. What’s your previous experience working criminal defense cases?
  2. What qualifications do you have, and can you supply references?
  3. What’s your availability to your clients? What about in emergencies?
  4. What’s your success rate in getting charges dropped, reduced, or settled out of court?
  5. How will you keep me updated on the progress of the case?
  6. How are you going to work to protect my legal rights?

But most of all, it's important to get legal advice on a case-by-case basis and consult with a criminal defense lawyer or civil lawyer who has experience litigating your case. They can provide their expertise and help you ensure you get the best representation.

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The information presented in this article is not legal advice and should not be relied upon or construed as legal advice. It is not permissible for MetLife or its employees or agents to give legal advice. The information in this article is for general informational purposes only and does not purport to be complete or to cover every situation. You must consult with your own legal advisors to determine how these laws will affect you.