Q: Are legal fees for criminal defense tax deductible?
A: Whether legal fees from a criminal case can be deducted on a tax return depends on the circumstances. If criminal charges pertain to activities related to a trade or business, attorney fees can be deducted on a business tax return, as they are considered an expense associated with the normal course of business. However, personal legal fees cannot be deducted.
Q: Why hire a criminal defense attorney?
A: Working with a criminal defense attorney is the best way to minimize the ramifications of committing or being accused of a crime. Criminal attorneys thoroughly investigate the circumstances surrounding a case to prove innocence or inspire reasonable doubt in a jury. Criminal defense lawyers also are better prepared to negotiate with the prosecutors. Due to the high cost and logistics involved with taking a case to trial, many prosecutors are willing to reduce sentences in exchange for avoiding a jury trial. An experienced criminal attorney understands what would be a reasonable deal for a specific criminal charge, and will negotiate it on behalf of the defendant.
Q: What if I can’t afford a criminal defense lawyer?
A: All Americans are afforded the right to hire an attorney to act as a defense in a legal case. However, not everyone can afford one. If an attorney isn’t in a defendant’s budget, and the defendant’s income meets designated state or local thresholds, the court system will provide a public defender. This attorney usually works on cases pro bono or without any fees paid by the defendant. Many public defenders have a high caseload, which can limit the amount of time they are able to devote to each case. In most situations, hiring a dedicated criminal defense lawyer ensures the best outcome. This is particularly true in more serious felony cases that can result in a significant prison sentence without the involvement of a skilled, experienced defense attorney.
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