Attorneys are extremely valuable to anyone facing criminal charges, but if you have been accused of a violent crime, an attorney is an absolute necessity. Violent crimes are often felonies, sometimes carrying mandatory minimum sentences and forever impacting the rest of the defendant’s life. However, even those accused of violent crimes are innocent until proven guilty. An attorney can help you understand options you may be unaware of and help you present a solid defense for your particular situation.

According to the Sixth Amendment of the Constitution, U.S. citizens have the right to an attorney when they are going through criminal proceedings. This is the same amendment that also lays out the right to a “speedy and public trial” and the right to know what the accusations against the defendant are, among others.

While the amendment is specifically geared toward a trial, in many cases, the right to counsel begins from the moment of arrest and is also a part of the Miranda rights a defendant is read when he is arrested. Legal counsel in the early stages of the proceedings can be especially critical for those interested in a plea bargain.

Once you are aware that you are suspected of a crime or have been arrested, it’s crucial to talk to a defense attorney as soon as possible, particularly if the accusations involve violent crimes such as assault. Going over the specifics of your case gives the attorney a chance to inform you of all of the options available from attempting to get the charges dismissed to negotiating a plea bargain to going to trial.

Source: United States Courts, “Sixth Amendment Activities,” accessed June 18, 2015