How Do I Know Whether I Need a Defense Lawyer or Can Represent Myself in a Criminal Case?

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. For most traffic violations, it's probably OK to go it alone. This is because the worst case scenario is that you'll pay a fine. However, some violations, especially ones involving a commercial vehicle, can involve a suspension of your commercial drivers license. It is important to understand the potential consequences before you agree to any plea offers. It gets trickier for offenses with increasingly heavier punishments, such as the possibility of probation or jail, multiple convictions or charges, or license suspensions that may impact your employment. In such cases, avoiding that first conviction is very important and you'll need a lawyer to help mitigate the consequences and fight the charges effectively.

For example, for anyone charged with drunk driving, unless the jurisdiction you are in will offer you diversion and you have a chance to consult with an attorney, avoiding that first conviction is critical. Any drunk driving charges can result in jail time and suspension of a person's driver's license, both of which can affect a person's employment and ability to earn a living.

Generally speaking, the more of the following situations that apply to your case, the more you need a lawyer:

  • Cumulative convictions for the same charge 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
  • Jail or prison time is presumed on conviction
  • You plan to fight the charges
  • 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.

How to Select a Criminal Defense Attorney

The most significant factors to consider in selecting a criminal defense attorney are experience, dedication and compatibility. The more serious the charges or consequences you face are, the more of each of these you need.

Experience — You need someone that understands criminal procedures and how to present an effective defense and what to look out for to protect your rights

Dedication — You need someone who who understands what you are going through and will fight for your rights every step of the way.

Compatibility — You need an attorney you are comfortable with, can put your confidence in and can talk easily with because a defense is most likely to succeed when attorney and client can work as partners, sharing information and cooperating to identify factors around which a defense can be formed

The Following Factors are Also Helpful in Most Cases:

  • Experience and familiarity with local courts, judges, prosecutors and police
  • Experience or specialization in defending the particular charges you're facing
  • Relationships with expert witnesses

Always Consult with an Attorney Before Representing Yourself

With the possible exception of minor traffic offenses, it's always a good idea to at least consult with a criminal defense attorney before deciding to represent yourself. An experienced defense attorney can help you know what to expect and may reveal something you weren't considering, which may keep you from making a huge mistake. Criminal law and procedures include many nuances that most people are unaware of. Relying on knowledge of the law gained through TV and movies is not a good idea. Most portrayals of courtrooms and police investigations are inaccurate and written to keep the audience interested. Additionally, laws and procedures vary from state to state.

The criminal defense attorneys at Stinson Law Group have extensive experience defending people charged with a wide variety of offenses. If you've been charged with a crime, Stinson Law Group can help you understand the charges, potential penalties you face and what may be needed to protect your rights or defend your innocence. If you choose to hire us after your initial consultation, we will ensure you get the best possible outcome. Call the criminal defense lawyers at Stinson Law Group toll free today for a free consultation: (888) 527-6090.

Categories: Criminal Defense

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