Navigating legal processes in the U.S. can be difficult for anyone. Whether you were in the wrong place at the wrong time, are being falsely accused of a crime, or are being treated unfairly after an unfortunate mistake, many find it difficult to understand the criminal justice system. And, people of color are impacted at a disproportionate level.
The good news is, having an attorney that knows the justice system and understands your background can help you navigate the many complexities you may face. In this article, a Black defense attorney in St. Petersburg, Attorney Zachariah Wade with Russo, Pelletier, & Sullivan, explains three things you should know about navigating the legal system.
1. People of Color and the Criminal Justice System
Statistically, people of color are more likely to be impacted by the criminal justice system than any other group in the U.S. In fact more than 60 percent of those currently behind bars are people of color. And, with nearly 2 million people in prison at any given time, the U.S. has the highest incarceration rate in the world.
According to Attorney Zachariah Wade, an African American defense attorney in St. Petersburg, Black people are mostly impacted by the legal system, but also know the least about it. And while there is not a lack of information, there is a significant lack of exposure.
Studies show that in particular, Black males face longer sentences than their white, non-Hispanic counterparts for similar crimes. In fact, studies show that their sentences are nearly 20 percent longer. When hiring an attorney to represent you, it is crucial to research their background and experience, as well as get to know their values and processes. This can ensure that you receive fair representation when facing a criminal charge.
Attorney Zachariah Wade spent five years in the Pinellas State Attorney’s office as a prosecutor, and as a result, has a strong understanding of what judges are looking for. With an experienced and educated attorney that understands and relates to your background, you can in turn better understand the legal system. With nearly 40 years of experience, the attorneys at Russo, Pelletier, & Sullivan, prioritize providing all clients with aggressive legal representation.
2. Sentencing Alternatives
If you or a loved one has been accused of a crime, understanding the charges you may face is a key component of navigating the legal system. As former State Prosecutors, the criminal defense attorneys at Russo, Pelletier, & Sullivan have experience from “the inside out” on how to achieve the best possible outcome for their clients. Rather than spending time in jail or prison, there are several sentencing alternatives that our team may be able to explore for resolving your case.
One possible alternative is participating in a Diversion Program. A Diversion Program, also known as a “Pre-Trial Intervention,” allows defendants to have their charges dismissed upon completion of the program. In some cases, defendants will be redirected to counseling, treatment, and behavior modification processes.
In other cases, defendants may experience a “Withhold of Adjudication,” allowing them to avoid a formal conviction or loss of civil rights. Other programs may allow defendants to complete alternative sentencing through work release, community control, or inpatient residential alcohol or drug treatment.
While there are a wide variety of outcomes you may face, our team of attorneys is prepared to fight aggressively for your rights and ensure that you achieve the best possible result.
3. Finding the Right Attorney
Another key aspect of navigating the legal system is finding the right attorney for your specific situation. Your attorney should not only understand what judges are looking for and how to achieve the best possible outcome, but also understand your background and point of view.
The right attorney can help educate you on the justice system and what your best course of action is. When looking to hire an attorney, it is important to thoroughly research their experience, client testimonials, and fee structures. This step will help you find the best legal representation for your case.
At Russo, Pelletier, & Sullivan, our team of attorneys works to defend each individual client with the utmost skill and compassion – to win acquittals where possible, and where conviction seems inevitable, to obtain alternative sentences or treatment rather than imprisonment.
Hire an Attorney to Navigate the Legal System
If you have found yourself charged with a criminal offense, it is crucial to seek legal representation as soon as possible. An experienced lawyer can help you understand your case and next steps during a stressful and uncertain time.
At Russo, Pelletier, & Sullivan, each of our attorneys is committed to fighting for your rights. If you are searching for a highly experienced team of attorneys to represent you, call us today at (727) 578-0303 or complete our contact request form for a free consultation.
Disclaimer: The information contained in this article is for general educational information only. This information does not constitute legal advice, is not intended to constitute legal advice, nor should it be relied upon as legal advice for your specific factual pattern or situation.