What happens if I don’t hire a criminal defense lawyer?
Few things are riskier than choosing a bad lawyer for your criminal case. However, choosing to forego a lawyer altogether and represent yourself, is one of them.
There are a lot of pitfalls that could lead to life-changing consequences when you choose to defend yourself in court. This is not just about jail time and fines. Having a criminal record can significantly impact your future in terms of employment and future housing opportunities.
To help you understand what’s at risk when you choose to self-represent, let’s look at five things that are likely to happen when you choose to not hire a criminal defense lawyer.
Five things that might happen if you choose not to hire a criminal defense lawyer
1. Your rights are not protected and may be violated
The constitution offers important rights to protect defendants and suspects before and after arrest. However, if you’ve dealt with legal matters before, you know the law is rarely straightforward.
Your rights could get violated intentionally or unintentionally by police officers and prosecutors.
Unfortunately, without a qualified criminal lawyer, you might not be aware of the protections that you are afforded by the law. Therefore, a violation of your rights can lead to a conviction.
2. You might not know what defenses to assert
Similar to failing to protect your rights, failing to assert the right defenses can lead to a conviction when facing a criminal charge.
For example, if you are charged with drug possession in New Jersey, saying “I never knew it was illegal” even though it’s true, is not an advisable defense for your case. In fact, you could end up admitting to your guilt in a misguided attempt at defending yourself. In this case, hiring a reputable criminal lawyer in NJ is the right call.
3. You might not know what to say
How you speak in court can make all the difference between incarceration and liberty. Using the wrong tone, for example, can be perceived as weak, combative, careless, hateful, or even a sign of mental instability.
Lawyers, drawing from their experience, know exactly what to say and how to present themselves in an orderly manner before a judge. Your lawyer knows;
- Which motions to file and when
- Understands how juries are selected
- Knows when to approach the prosecutor’s office to suggest a plea bargain, depending on how your case is going
You do not have the experience and skills to know these, and many other court processes and procedures.
If you don’t have a lawyer, you might make a bad impression in court when you say something that’s wrong or inappropriate. Worse, you might lose your case simply because you failed to speak and assert your defenses correctly.
4. You might accept an unfavorable plea deal
Most criminal cases in the United States don’t end up in trial, but with a plea deal. A plea deal or bargain is an agreement between the prosecutor and the defendant where the prosecutor promises to lower the sentencing or drop some charges if you plead guilty.
If you are facing a criminal charge, the prosecutor might reach out to you with a plea deal to get you to plead guilty. However, whether you should take the plea deal or not largely depends on the details of your case.
Without the help of an experienced criminal defense lawyer, you might not know whether you are getting a good deal or not and, therefore, you might accept a deal that is not in your best interest.
A criminal defense lawyer attorney can help you determine whether the plea deal offered is favorable and if the need arises, negotiate a better one on your behalf.
5. Your emotions will cloud your judgment
When facing serious accusations, it is important that you remain calm and level-headed, otherwise you cannot fight the charges effectively.
If you are representing yourself in court, you may find it difficult to keep calm when the evidence is upsetting, false, or offensive. You are likely to get nervous, angry, defensive, and in an attempt to talk your way out of trouble, make emotional arguments. This may affect the jury or judge’s decision in a negative way and in turn, hurt your case.
Final thoughts on why you should a criminal defense lawyer
Unlike in a video game, life doesn’t always offer second chances. You only get one chance to fight off criminal charges, and if you don’t put up your best defense in court, it might be the last time you are enjoying your liberty for a while.
Unless you are charged with a simple misdemeanor such as a parking ticket or maybe a trespassing citation, hire an experienced criminal defense lawyer to help you with your case.
So, next time you are wondering whether hiring an attorney is worth it, think about the bigger picture: your future.
Leave a ReplyWant to join the discussion?
Feel free to contribute!