Criminal Defense Lawyer
The constitution provides individuals facing criminal charges the right to legal counsel as well as the right to represent themselves if they so choose. So, when faced with criminal charges, it is up to you to decide whether you should hire a lawyer or not and depending on your crime, it might not be necessary. As a general rule of thumb, the harsher your potential punishment could be, the more valuable a lawyer is in helping you reduce your charges.
There are situations where hiring a lawyer might not make much sense. For example, the punishment you are expecting is not severe enough to incur the costs of a lawyer, or you plan on pleading guilty and the sentence you will face cannot be reduced. In some cases, at your arraignment you might be able to handle representing yourself, but this is not usually recommended.
If you have been represented by an attorney who did a poor job for you in the past, this is not the best reason not to hire someone else this time around. Consulting a lawyer who is experienced in handling cases like yours will likely give you an advantage in the long run.
Self-Representation Requires Some Knowledge
While you do not need legal knowledge, you must know the dangers of waiving your right to representation. If you are unable to abide by courtroom rules and procedures, or if the judge deems you as incapable of self-representation, they can appoint a lawyer to you.
Determine Your Sentence
Some state laws outline a range of potential punishments you can anticipate for certain crimes, such as drug possession or trafficking. In many states, the judge might have some leniency on these guidelines or will choose what they think is fair within the range provided by the law.
For a crime that has a wide range of potential charges, such as six months to 10 years in prison and a hefty fine, you might want to find out what the average sentence is in the court you will be attending. To do this, you can hire a defense attorney for an hour or so to see what they think your best options are. You can also speak with someone at the public defender’s office.
If you are being charged with a minor crime such as shoplifting or a traffic ticket, you might get by without professional representation. On the other hand, if you are being tried for a violent crime or felony, it is often in your best interest to obtain the services of an experienced criminal defense attorney in San Francisco, CA who is familiar with the law and can ensure you are treated fairly in court and given the best outcome possible.
Thanks to the Morales Law Firm for their insight into criminal law and self representation.