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After being charged with a criminal offense, you likely have a lot of questions about what will happen next. Criminal cases proceed in much the same way. You will appear at a court hearing, bail may be set, you may have a trial, and you may be sentenced. However, there are individual differences with each case. A defense attorney located in the Denver area can answer any questions you may have. Before you meet with the lawyer, you may wish to write down your questions.

What are the potential penalties?

The potential penalties for virtually any criminal case may include time behind bars and/or fines. The more serious the nature of the crime is, the more severe the potential penalties are. Misdemeanors are generally punishable by up to one year in jail, whereas felony convictions are punishable by more than one year in prison. Some crimes may be prosecuted as a misdemeanor or a felony, depending on the particulars of the case. Felony convictions can have lifelong consequences. Depending on the particular charge, you may have difficulty obtaining employment or finding housing. You may lose professional licenses, your right to possess a firearm, and your right to vote. If you’re convicted of sex crimes, you may be required to register as a sex offender.

How can I improve the outcome?

Listen carefully when your criminal defense attorney instructs you to do or not to do something. Your lawyer may tell you not to discuss the case with anyone else and to avoid contacting the alleged victim, if applicable. In some cases, you may take certain actions that may place yourself in a better position in court. For example, if you’ve been charged with drunk driving, voluntarily enrolling in rehab even before you return to court may help your case.

Should I accept a plea bargain?

Plea deals may not be available in all cases; your lawyer can try to negotiate for a plea bargain on your behalf. Talk to your criminal defense attorney about the merits of your case, the likely outcome if it goes to court, and whether the plea bargain is reasonable for the nature of the charges. However, only you can decide whether to accept a plea bargain or not.

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