Do I Need A Criminal Defense Lawyer?
As with anything in life, sometimes there are times where we have to determine whether or not to handle a problem or situation on our own, or if we need to bring in the experience of a professional. In some situations it may make sense to try to handle it on your own, other times it makes far more sense to hire an attorney. Let’s discuss when do you need a lawyer for a criminal charge.
There are plenty of cases that do not require the use of a lawyer (however even in these cases a lawyer can often help you get a better deal). A simple, low level traffic ticket is the most common example. Generally speaking, the penalties for unaggravated moving violations are not severe. In many cases, there is no court date; an offender can simply mail in a payment to the court and be done. Jail time is rarely a requirement. These matters can be handled without an attorney, unless the offender is at risk of losing their license. If you are concerned about points raising insurance rates, or worried that a ticket now will make it more likely that you will lost your license in the future, then even in these cases you should hire an attorney.
Do I need a lawyer for petty offenses and municipal charges?
These criminal charges are the next tier up. These are relatively minor violations that typically do not result in the offender getting arrested. Many offenses fall into this category, such as simple trespass, underage drinking, or possession of marijuana. Many of these offenses can eventually be sealed or expunged, even after a conviction. There is rarely jail time, unless the offender has previous criminal history. Often, offenders of this kind elect not to have an attorney represent them, because the penalties are not too severe. However, these violations are still criminal. A criminal record can be an impediment to job interviews or rental applications. If a criminal record (or lack thereof) is important to you, you should at least consult with a criminal defense lawyer.
Do I need a lawyer for misdemeanor charges?
Misdemeanor offenses are a common type of case, but are very serious. Driving Under the Influence, simple assault, and domestic violence cases are some examples of crimes that fall into this category. These are offenses that, while may not pose the threat of prison time like felony offenses, can still affect a person’s future, and may require jail time at the county level. If being investigated or charged with one of these offenses, the offender should at a minimum consult with an attorney, but should most likely hire one.
Do I need a lawyer for felonies?
Felony offenses are the most serious in the criminal justice system. These offenses carry the possibility of prison time, and at a minimum, lengthy probation terms with varying degrees of conditions and restrictions. These cases include many crimes such as some drug offenses, violent crimes, and sex assaults to name a few. A felony conviction can affect a person’s employment and housing options considerably, and may impact a person’s right to bear arms. A person charged with a felony should definitely hire a defense attorney, no matter how serious the case.
Any criminal offense, no matter how petty, can impact a person’s life. If you are unsure where you stand, pick up the phone and give us a call. We offer free consultations and can tell you whether you need a criminal lawyer.
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