When you’re in trouble with the law, hiring a criminal defense lawyer is the smartest thing you can do. As an expert in the field, a lawyer can help you in a number of ways. However, there are limitations to their powers, so don’t expect to automatically win a case just because you’ve got a criminal defense attorney on your side.

Having realistic expectations and goals is important before making an appearance in court. It’s also important when choosing a criminal defense lawyer. If someone is making promises they can’t keep, you should start looking for a better legal team.

Here is a breakdown of what your lawyer can and can’t do.

Your lawyer can:

  1. Argue on your behalf if your case goes to trial
    Your criminal defense attorney’s job is to tell your side of the story so that the judge and/or jury can come to a fair conclusion. They will use every resource they have to fight for your case.
  2. Expedite the process
    Through their connections and by completing and filing documents properly, your lawyer will help you end the whole ordeal as soon as possible. Keep in mind that arguing a case takes a lot of time and on average; a public defender needs to put in about 3,035 work hours to do a year’s worth of work. What’s more, your lawyer may not have any control over when the court schedules your appearances.
  3. Provide you with legal advice
    One of the greatest benefits of having a lawyer is that they will advise you on how to proceed while keeping your best interests in mind. Remember, your attorney is certified to practice law, so you should always listen to their advice.
  4. Lessen your charges
    It is not guaranteed, but having your charges lowered is a lot more likely when you have an attorney fighting for you.

Your lawyer cannot:

  1. Perform miracles
    Your attorney can only do so much within the limits of the law. If you are charged with your second DUI, for instance, you will not be let off without consequences.
  2. Bend the law
    Lawyers have dedicated their lives to upholding the law. They can’t simply change the rules so that you won’t get in trouble. If lawyers don’t adhere to U.S. law, how can we expect that from the public?
  3. Privately discuss your case with the judge or jury
    Neither you nor your lawyer can legally approach the judge or jury outside of the court room during your case. This will be seen as extortion or bribery.

Ultimately, it is important to listen to your lawyer and trust that they have your best intentions at heart. Follow their instructions, but don’t expect your problems to magically disappear.