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Why Do I Need a Lawyer?
If you have been arrested or are under investigation for a criminal offense, your freedom is at stake. You may be putting yourself in a horrible situation if you do not seek counsel immediately. Even brain surgeons do not do brain surgery on themselves. You should seek legal counsel if you are accused of a crime.
No case has been filed, yet- why do I need a lawyer?
This is a critical time. Police and prosecutors are human beings. Most are hard working people trying to do the right thing, but some are lazy and incompetent. Needless to say,law enforcement make mistakes. Fortunately,most are open minded. However, you need a lawyer to get to the investigating agency or the prosecutor as soon as possible to make sure you get a fair shake before formal charges are filed or indicted. Sometimes,law enforcement can be convinced that charges are not warrant, should be no-billed by the Grand Jury, or at a minimum that a beneficial plea deal is warranted. Pre-Indictment plea deals are often better deals than could be reached after indictment. Also, many offices have strict policies on dismissing indicted cases. A prosecutor usually has more discretion before the case is indicted to recommend a "No-Bill" to the Grand Jury or to reject the case altogether.
I have been arrested and made bond, but no charges have been filed for a long time - Am I safe? Should I still get a lawyer?
Depending on the offense, the Government can wait years to formally file charges. Each criminal offense has a "Statute of Limitations" that determines how the long the Government has to bring charges. The government has all that time to build a case against you. The passage of time can hurt your ability to defend yourself because witnesses and documents that could aid your defense may not be available in the future, if you just wait and hope that nothing happens.
I am innocent of the charges against me - why should I hire a lawyer?
In the criminal justice system, so many guilty people say that they are innocent that law enforcement will probably not believe you. We want to believe that the truth will set us free, but the right result does not always come out in the courtroom. Sadly, innocent people have been convicted all over our country. If you are innocent, and law enforcement is gunning for your liberty, you need a good lawyer more than anyone!
I have never been in trouble before - Can't I just go in and get probation?
You cannot be sure of that. Depending on the crime, the Government may seek a prison sentence for a first offender. In rare cases, is the Government ever required to recommend probation. Even if you could, walk in and "just get probation," what if a lawyer could have gotten the case thrown out? Would you be able to read the police report and determine whether there are any legal challenges to the Government's evidence? Would you even know how to get a copy of the police report? What if a good lawyer could have at least gotten the case reduced to a lesser charge that would not get your driver's license suspended? You are throwing away freedom by not consulting an attorney.
I am guilty as sin - Can't I just take a plea?
Whether you did the crime or not is not the issue. The issue is what the government can prove. You are presumed innocent unless and until the Government has proven your case BEYOND A REASONABLE DOUBT. You may be "guilty as sin," but the Government may not be able to prove it. You need a lawyer to evaluate the Government's evidence and your chance of being found "not guilty" at trial. The lawyers job is often about risk management. Your lawyer should be looking at the chances of success and failure as well as the consequences of failure.Sometimes a jury trial is the worst possible way to handle your case because the chance of winning is slim and the negative consequences are huge. In other cases, a jury trial is your best and only option! Only a good lawyer can help your sort through this.