Hiring a criminal defense lawyer is an investment, as much as it is a protection of your personal liberty; in most cases, it will be worth it to hire one because they will be able to save you money on fines, or even get your case dismissed completely. They may be able to work out a plea agreement to protect your record, as well as your employment, insurance, professional licensing and things like that.
When deciding which criminal attorney to hire, take into account the specific crime and whether the attorney has experience with the particular crime you are charged with and who understands the ramifications of conviction, including dealing with expungement or making sure you keep your driver’s licenses. Make sure they have defended others and taken cases similar to yours to trial; those types of attorneys know what to expect when it comes to defending you, including knowing the best defenses, knowing how to works with juries and things like that.
If you have no money for a private lawyer, get a public defender, but if you can hire a private attorney, it is worth the cost. Public defenders are good lawyers, with a lot of experience in particular courts and with particular judges, but they simply don’t have the time to invest in your case; to search for inconsistencies in police reports; to look at videotapes of arrests; to investigate the scene of the crime, to talk to witnesses; they just don’t have time to do any of that stuff, because the average public defender has 80 or more open cases, whereas a private attorney will have maybe a couple dozen or less and have the time to spend on each one.
With a public defender, you’ll only get to talk to them at court, and they’ll have looked at your file while they’re talking to the judge; they won’t be familiar with you or your situation. However, a private attorney will meet with you and have time to look over everything; to cross all the T’s and dot all the I’s, and do all the research to make sure every stone is turned while searching for a defense to your case, and to negotiate with prosecutor to get you the best offer possible and to make sure you understand the consequences of your charge, beyond criminal penalties like jails and fines if you can afford to hire a private attorney.
If the cops don’t read your Miranda Rights, anything you say cannot be used against you and any evidence that was gathered based on what you said can be suppressed by your attorney, which means it can’t be used against you at trial. On the other hand, if police and prosecutors have lots of evidence that has nothing to do with statements you made to them without Miranda, the fact that they didn’t read you your Miranda Rights may not really affect your case that much.
The bottom line is, it can sometimes be really helpful when an officer doesn’t read the Miranda Rights properly, if it results in suppressing some statements and evidence, but if they have other evidence they’re using to develop probable cause to arrest you, you probably won’t be helped much if they don’t read you your Miranda Rights.
Even though they’ve become part of pop culture, there are many misunderstandings regarding Miranda Rights; many people think police have to read them in every case. What has happened, though, is that police have found other ways to get the evidence they need, since so many people know they have the right to remain silent and to speak to an attorney. That makes Miranda Rights less important than they used to be.
You also need an attorney who is experienced and understands the particular charge you’re facing, knows how to investigate those charges and what pitfalls to avoid and who knows how to handle juries and convince them that you’re not guilty. Make sure your attorney is someone who will spend the proper time and care on your case and who will explores any possible defense.
You should assert those rights by not consenting to any searches and not agreeing to any sort of investigations or questioning by officers. Also, always ask the officer if he’s detaining you, if you’re free to leave, and if he has reasonable suspicion to prevent you from leaving and to hold you for questioning. That’s how you prevent them from getting information that can lead to your arrest, help them to develop probable cause, and to prevent them from railroading you.