You may think that being charged with a crime is the result of one or more bad decisions on your part. That may very well be true; it often is. But if you’re thinking about defending yourself in court without the help of a criminal defense lawyer, you could be on the precipice of compounding your mistakes with another big one. Being arrested doesn’t need to be the end of the world. Plenty of people have gone on after being arrested to become very successful, productive members of society. Even Bill Gates has a mugshot in his history. But if you represent yourself and hope for the best, you could be facing more trouble than you bargained for. Here are some of the reasons that hiring an attorney is a very good idea.
A Conviction Is Serious Business
Sometimes, the prosecutor will go to a defendant and assure them that a conviction will not result in jail time. This will lull the defendant into a sense of security that tell them that hiring a criminal lawyer is a waste of money. While it’s not a trick, it isn’t to be trusted. A prosecutor can not make that guarantee. Though a judge is unlikely to dole out a stiffer sentence than what the prosecutor is seeking, it can and has happened. Even if you don’t get jail time, however, having a conviction on your record will follow you for years. It could prevent you from gaining employment and even affect where you can live. If it can be avoided, it should be.
Don’t make the common mistake of believing that a misdemeanor is not worth worrying about. A first degree misdemeanor could carry with it up to a year behind bars. Unless you think being locked away for that length of time is something you can easily deal with, you may want to get a criminal defense lawyer on the line.
The Public Defender
It has to be said that public defender’s offices around the country are filled with bright, young attorneys who are doing everything they can to represent their clients to the best of their abilities. The problem is that most of these offices are understaffed and overworked. The pay is abysmal in most cases and you simply can’t expect to get the kind of personal attention you would get from a private criminal defense lawyer. If you can’t afford someone, then by all means: taking the assistance of the PD is far preferable to trying to defend yourself alone. But if you can afford the alternative, make every attempt to do so.