Do I Really Need To Hire A Criminal Defense Lawyer!
Well, you know what my answer is going to be. Of course, you need to hire a lawyer!
Skilled criminal defense lawyers can negotiate good deals that can minimize the harm a conviction can do to your future. Obviously, not all charges can be pled down to minor offenses. However, there are often alternate programs and sentencing structures that can get you a better result that won’t hurt your future.
Lawyers go to law school for a reason. Law School is three years of pretty intense study where students learn how to look at issues from various points of view and to come up with solutions. We do not just memorize statutes or learn how to fill out legal forms. It is not something you can master by reading about it on the internet. You can’t really learn criminal law from watching Law and Order reruns.
Being a good criminal defense lawyer means having the ability to carefully, and creatively, analyze statutes and case law, and then persuasively argue that analysis to the judge.
Being a good criminal defense lawyer requires an ability to negotiate in good faith with law enforcement and prosecutors. A good lawyer has built up a reputation for integrity and trust with these officials, which can often help you get a better result. A good lawyer has spent years building up a reputation for zealous advocacy for her clients.
A good defense lawyer knows how to critically evaluate evidence and spends hundreds of hours keeping up with the latest technological, scientific, and evidentiary issues related to evidence.
Having a good criminal defense lawyer also means that you have someone who can keep you calm and focused throughout the ordeal. It means having someone who can explain the steps in the process and make sure crucial deadlines are not missed.
Importantly, an experienced lawyer will tell you the hidden consequences of a criminal conviction. I’ve had numerous people contact me because they pled guilty to a crime to get out of jail or to “just end the case.” Later, they found out that the conviction stays on their record forever. It kept them from getting a job or a professional license.
Many times, employers will run rap sheets after a person has been employed for a number of years and then fire the person for an old conviction. This often happens when a major corporation takes over a small business. I had an older man come in and tell me he got fired from a job digging graves after over twenty years of working at this particular cemetery. A company came in and bought the cemetery and obtained the criminal records on every employee. He had a possession of marijuana with intent to distribute from 1972. They told me their hands were tied. Company policy.
People often tell me that they pled to a crime because they were led to believe that since the crime they were pleading to was a “misdemeanor,” then it wouldn’t hurt their chances of getting a job. They are told it can be expunged. See my website regarding expungements. Only very minor convictions can be expunged, and then only if you have no other convictions after that. Whether a crime is classified as a misdemeanor or a felony has very little bearing on the negative consequences of the conviction.
If I were charged with a crime, I would not represent myself. That’s because I would want an objective advocate to fight for me. Even though I am an experienced and successful criminal defense lawyer, I would not be able to advocate effectively because I would be too emotionally involved.
That being said, you probably don’t need a lawyer if you have been charged with a traffic offense and your livelihood is not dependent on a clean driving record; i.e. you are not a truck driver. If you have some people skills and know how to be polite to an officer — and have read my blog on how to dress for court — then you can probably go into court and get the officer to knock down the ticket. But, it does not hurt to talk to a lawyer first to make sure there aren’t consequences you aren’t aware of. Make your first call to a good criminal defense lawyer!
So, of course, the answer is “yes.” You need to hire a criminal defense lawyer. Call for a free consultation.