You have been charged with a Virginia DUI. The police have told you that you have the right to contact a lawyer if you wish. But is this a right that you should exercise in this case?
Sixth Amendment to the Constitution
The right to counsel is so important that the founding fathers chose to include it in the U.S. Constitution. The Sixth Amendment states than anyone accused of a crime has the right to be represented by an attorney during all criminal proceedings. It goes on to say that if a person cannot afford the services of a lawyer, then one will be appointed by the court to defend them.
When most Americans think about their right to counsel, they usually envision having a lawyer by their side during a criminal trial. But this right extends to more situations than that. You have the right to legal representation during every stage of your DUI prosecution. This includes:
- Interrogation by police after your arrest;
- Arraignment by a court when your plea is entered;
- Preparation for your criminal trial;
- Sentencing by a court; and
- Post-conviction proceedings.
Importance of a Virginia DUI Lawyer
When you engage the services of a Virginia DUI lawyer to represent you, they are responsible for much more than arguing your case before a judge and jury. As part of their duty to defend you, your DUI lawyer should:
- Explain the entire process to you and make sure you understand what is going on;
- Advise you of your rights before, during, and after your trial;
- Ensure that your rights are protected during your arrest, confinement, and prosecution;
- Investigate evidence, police statements, and other facts of the case (and to make sure they were obtained legally);
- Question and cross-examine witnesses involved in the prosecutor's case;
- Object to any improper, inappropriate, or illegal evidence, procedures, or questioning which are contrary to your interests;
- Present a legal defense in a court of law; and
- Negotiate a plea bargain on your behalf.
So when you retain the services of a Virginia DUI lawyer, it's not like hiring a contractor or service provider to perform a job for you. Your attorney is the biggest defender of your interests, rights, and well-being throughout the entire judicial process.
The penalties for DUI in Virginia are too severe to permit courts to ‘look the other way' when police officers make errors. However, there is one certainty at a DUI trial - the DUI defendant cannot prevail on an issue his lawyer fails to recognize and raise! Continue reading our article to learn why hiring a Virginia DUI lawyer is the best thing you can do for your case.
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