CRIMINAL DEFENSE LAWYER
You may feel overwhelmed, frightened, but criminal charges call for action, not feelings. Even before the lower court judge decides to release you from jail, the first logical step is to hire a criminal defense lawyer. As the defendant, or someone trying to help, you need to find an attorney who handles your type of criminal case and is familiar with the local prosecutors and judges. Lawyer-friends probably do not practice criminal law but you could ask them for the name of someone who does. In years past, clients skimmed through pages of overpriced yellow page ads looking for the right lawyer, like throwing darts blindfolded. Most new clients now search on the internet (Avvo.com and Lawyers.com are good places to start – both rate lawyers from best to worst in each category after surveying local judges, fellow lawyers and former clients).
The sooner you find an attorney, the better. Once hired, your defense lawyer may convince the prosecutor to drop lesser charges or at least issue a summons instead of an arrest warrant. For those already in jail on a no bond hold, your lawyer can request a release hearing within five days. At that hearing, your lawyer should ask the district judge to allow you out without posting a bond, haggling over whether you are a danger to the community, a flight risk, and whether you need a GPS ankle bracelet, sobrietor, house arrest, or other condition of release. NM Supreme Court decisions in the past several years have driven bondsmen out of the market with more people being released without a bond on their own recognizance or a signature bond which you pay only if you fail to abide by conditions of release or fail to appear at court hearings. Under our constitution, a person is innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt, and any bond should be based solely on whether the court has reason to consider you a flight risk or a danger to others.
If you have been released, the magistrate judge will want you to hire an attorney, especially if the charges are serious. If you were released after your arraignment, the judge probably told you when you need to return to court. The judge expects you to hire a lawyer before then. If you cannot afford one, you need to apply for a public defender. Each case is different, of course, and your lawyer helps you navigate through the court system until the criminal case is finally closed. He may argue to dismiss some of the charges, negotiate a plea agreement with the prosecutor, persuade jurors as to the correct verdict, seek the lightest sentence possible, appeal to higher courts, and every possible step in between.
Contact my office if you or someone you know needs a criminal defense lawyer from New Mexico. For cases outside the Santa Fe-Espanola-Los Alamos region, I limit my cases to federal and state cases involving serious felony charges. During COVID, however, it h as been possible to deal with cases around New Mexico with telephone and Google Meet video conferences. After hours, our 24-hour answering service will text my cellphone and I will return your call at my earliest opportunity. Like many criminal defense lawyers, I offer a free consultation either by phone or, preferably, in person. We will discuss the facts of your case, your background and my impression of how your case might go. I will tell you how much I would charge if you hired me, and we will discuss how much time you will need to pay in full. As for the outcome, no lawyer can guarantee a result. There are many others involved in your criminal case: judges, prosecutors, alleged victims, and police officers. Each can influence how the case proceeds. Your criminal history has a bearing too. I have been practicing criminal law since 1980, and criminal defense throughout New Mexico since 1985, so I bring decades of experience to our discussion. Experience is not the same as having a crystal ball to tell the future, but perhaps it is the next best thing. I am happy to consult with you and, if you decided to hire me, I would be honored.
Hiring a good criminal defense lawyer for your case means hiring someone who will work hard, applying years of experience and skills toward the best possible result. No lawyer can guarantee a result in any criminal case. There are many variables such as the strength of prosecution evidence, whether the alleged victim suffered injury, the defendant’s criminal history, whether the victim is cooperating with the prosecutor, the personality of the prosecuting attorney, and the predispositions of the presiding judge, to name a few. Nevertheless, your lawyer should make every effort to achieve the best result possible in your case. You should expect no less.
Freedom and Justice, One Client at a Time