Facing criminal charges, especially for a violent crime, can be a frightening experience. The consequences of a conviction may include prolonged time behind bars where you will be apart from your family and everything familiar. Whether this is your first offense or you have gone through the justice system before, there may be no way to prepare for the emotions you may experience.
However, there is a way to prepare a strong defense that may result in a more positive resolution. Facing criminal charges without skilled legal assistance may open you to mistakes and missteps that could jeopardize your future and your freedom.
Can't I defend myself in court?
Even if you think you know the laws that pertain to your case, you may be unable to separate your emotions and personal feelings from the application of the law to your circumstances. This is just one way in which an attorney can be helpful. Your legal counsel does not have the personal attachment that you do and can therefore avoid making common mistakes that emotions often cause. Other important reasons to consider obtaining the representation of an attorney include the following:
- Attorneys often know when investigators have obtained evidence illegally. If police violated your rights to gather evidence against you, or the crime lab made errors processing or preserving samples, an attorney will have the skill to challenge that evidence.
- You may not know how or when to file certain documents and motions with the court. Missing deadlines could seriously damage your case.
- Your attorney understands how to find and interview witnesses who will testify on your behalf. You may not have the skills to question and cross-examine witnesses for maximum benefit during trial.
- Your attorney may have access to expert witnesses who can strengthen the evidence in your defense or weaken the case of the prosecution.
- An attorney will know how to minimize the negative consequences and when it may be to your advantage to accept a plea bargain.
Throughout the process, your opponent will have the benefits of legal training and experience you may not have. You can be certain he or she will take full advantage of your inexperience and lack of legal knowledge. You have a great deal at stake, and taking a chance in court without a trained and experienced attorney may not be the best way to protect your interests.