We Are Criminal Defense Attorneys
The criminal defense attorneys at Stinson Law Group have extensive experience helping people charged with crimes build a strong defense and protect their rights. If you have been charged with a crime in Wyoming or Montana, Stinson Law Group can help. In some cases we can use our experience to help get charges dropped all together, in others we rely on our extensive experience in court as trial lawyers to present your best defense to judge and jury.
We have experience representing individuals charged with misdemeanors and felonies including:
- DUI: Driving While Under the Influence Of Alcohol or Drugs
- Traffic Crimes Including Reckless or Careless Driving, Driving While Suspended, Unlawful Use of a Motor Vehicle
- Drug Possession and Distribution
- Assault and Battery
- Domestic Violence
- PFMA (Partner Family Member Assault)
- Sexual Assault
- Resisting Arrest
- Fraud and Identity Thieft
- White Collar Crimes
- Disorderly Conduct
Frequently Asked Questions
What Should You Do if You’re Arrested?
As criminal defense lawyers, we often see clients make the mistake of talking to police without their lawyer present, and they end up getting burned for it. If you get arrested, the best thing you can do is let police know that you want a lawyer and politely decline to talk about anything else until your lawyer arrives. Most people who talk to police without their lawyer present end up saying too much and, in the end, they get in more trouble. You will also give up certain rights if you talk to the police on your own.
Usually, people who talk to police without their lawyer present do so believing police will “let them off the hook” or give them a better deal because of their cooperation. However, by talking to police, more often than not, you reveal information that helps them build their case against you. One of the Constitutional rights guaranteed to everyone charged with a crime is the right against self-incrimination — the right to not be a witness against yourself. But anything you say to police can be used against you in trial, so if you tell police you’re guilty or give them information that makes their case stronger, you have essentially given up your Fifth Amendment right to not incriminate yourself.
How Do I Know Whether I Need a Defense Lawyer or Can Represent Myself in a Criminal Case?
It is rarely a good idea to represent yourself in a criminal matter. This is because many crimes carry the possibility or jail or probation. Traffic crimes carry with them the possibility of suspension of your driver’s license as well. This is especially true for individuals with a commercial driver’s license. It is important you understand the potential consequences before you agree to any plea offers. It gets trickier with multiple charges. Avoiding convictions is very important, and you’ll need a lawyer to help mitigate the consequences and fight the charges effectively.
Generally speaking, the more of the following situations that apply to your case, the more you need a lawyer:
- You plan to fight the charges
- Jail or prison time is presumed on conviction
- Multiple charges for the same alleged acts will result in more severe penalties
- Conviction is likely to result in jail or prison time
- Conviction is likely to result in suspension of driver’s license or professional license
- You have a criminal record with previous convictions for any crime
- You are incarcerated pending trial and don’t have access to adequate law materials to help you prepare
- You feel anxious or overwhelmed or otherwise don’t feel in control of the situation
Certainly, anyone facing felony charges should be represented by an attorney to ensure their rights are protected and the strongest possible defense is presented.
What Are My Defenses When Charged with a Crime?
There are a limited set of defenses or arguments which can be presented in court. Understanding these defenses can help a person accused of a crime understand the kinds of evidence and testimony their lawyer is looking for in building their case. While it is important to realize that a person charged with a crime is not required to prove their innocence, that it is up to the prosecutor to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant is guilty, it is often helpful for the defendant to present evidence and testimony. Evidence provided by the defendent can help challenge the prosecutor’s evidence and create doubts about whether the defendant is guilty in the minds of the judge and jury. The following are defenses a defendant and their lawyer can argue against almost any crime:
- This defense involves evidence or testimony that shows the defendant couldn’t possibly have committed the crime because he or she was someplace else. Usually this requires more than the defendant stating that he or she was someplace. Testimony of one or more believable witnesses or evidence showing the defendant in a particular place at a particular time is usually required to cast doubt on prosecutors’ evidence. The more convincing the prosecutor’s evidence is, the more convincing evidence of an alibi must be.
- Insubstantial evidence
- Individuals are presumed innocent until proven guilty, but sometimes defendants have to show why prosecutors’ evidence isn’t sufficient to prove guilt. Finger prints on a murder weapon seem pretty condemning until its revealed that the weapon, let’s say a gun, belonged to the defendant but turned up missing two days before the murder. A police report about the missing weapon could cast serious doubt on whether the fingerprints proved guilt.
- This defense could be used against allegations of assault, battery, murder, manslaughter or similar charges if the alleged victim was actually the aggressor and the defendant was just trying to protect him/herself. However, this defense often requires the defendant not exceed the force necessary for protection. For example, continuing to beat an attacker after rendering them helpless or unconscious could still result in a criminal charge.
- Mutual combat
- If two people knowingly and willingly enter into a fight, it can be argued that neither has a right to complain against the other for blows struck. This is not a common defense in the courtroom, but can often be employed to convince prosecutors to drop or reduce a charge when facts of the case support it.
- This defense claims that the individual didn’t have control of himself at the time of the crime and/or couldn’t discern that the actions leading to the crime were wrong. However, it also admits that the defendant committed the alleged criminal actions. It is immaterial whether the "insanity" was temporary or permanent, but usually it must be corroborated by testimony, including testimony by a psychology expert who has examined the defendant unless the fact is stipulated to or conceded by the prosecutor. Additionally, in Montana and Wyoming, self-induced temporary insanity due to the voluntary ingestion of controlled substances for example, is not a defense to criminal conduct.
- This defense argues that the defendant was too drunk or high to know better. As with the insanity defense, an intoxication defense admits the defendant committed the alleged actions. This defense is rarely successful as people are generally held responsible for actions they take when voluntarily intoxicated. However, in the case of someone drugged unknowingly it could be a legitimate defense. Conceivably, it could also be used in a case in which someone who got drunk in an environment they reasonably believed would be free of the potential for the crime and then was provoked to criminal action. For example if someone was drinking at home with a friend and a third person invited by the friend walked into the house, but the intoxicated home owner assaulted that person thinking they were an intruder when a sober person would not have done so, then intoxication might be a valid defense to the prosecutor’s ’should have known’ argument.
- This defense is employed when law enforcement entices someone to commit a crime they wouldn’t ordinarily have committed on their own and then arrests them for the crime. For example, an undercover officer who talks someone into selling drugs even though they’ve never done it before and are resistant to it would be a case of entrapment.