Presenting a criminal defense can feel like a daunting task, but there are a few common options that people can look at. If you're going to speak with a defense attorney, keep your mind open about the possible options for handling your case. Also, bear in mind that some defenses can overlap, and some will unfold over time. Let's take a look at how a criminal defense lawyer might see your case.
Prior to Being Charged
The best way to beat a charge is, frankly, to not get charged. To be clear, you shouldn't engage in a cover-up of a crime if you did do something, but you also shouldn't do the job of the police and the prosecution for them.
For example, cops often ask probing questions when they don't have the evidence to bring a criminal charge. Many people have an impulse to not let a question go unanswered. Some of the better interrogators will just let people stew in silence knowing that folks often want to fill the silence.
The biggest thing to do is to stick to your position and not provide the police with testimony that can be used against you. Don't volunteer information, and don't provide the police the opportunity to search anything when they don't have a warrant. If they do have a warrant, get a defense attorney to the scene as soon as possible. Also, make sure the cops only stick to searching in the places the warrant specifies and for the items listed in the warrant. Never let a fishing expedition get out of hand.
Coming in as the second-best opportunity to present a criminal defense is the initial phase of a prosecution. This is the time to raise questions about charging documents, collected evidence and police and prosecutorial tactics. While judges give law enforcement a lot of leeway, they also have high expectations for their conduct. If there are any questions about why you've been charged, you want those brought before the court during preliminary hearings in the hope of getting charges reduced or dropped.
Pleading or Going to Trial
If the prosecution offers a plea agreement, your defense attorney is legally obligated to explain it to you and say whether they like it. Beyond that, your last remaining option, and one that the majority of people will not exercise, is to go to a full-on criminal trial.