For the average person, getting arrested is a fairly traumatic event, particularly if it is the first time. If you were recently arrested and charged with a criminal offense, you may still be a bit dazed and confused as a result of the experience. Family and friends have likely encouraged you to contact an experienced criminal defense attorney; however, you may be hesitant to do so. Some defendants operate under the (mistaken) belief that they don’t really need an attorney, believing that they can represent themselves. Even if the charges are relatively minor, representing yourself in a criminal case is a mistake. A Murfreesboro defense attorney offers the following five reasons why you should not try to represent yourself in a criminal prosecution.
- The stakes are probably higher than you realize. It is easy enough to look up the potential judicial penalties for conviction of a specific offense; however, that is not always the end of the story. The penalties you may face for a conviction also typically include non-judicial penalties as well. Furthermore, there may be more to the judicial penalties than you realize. For example, if you are convicted of driving under the influence and are sentenced to a term of probation, the judge may impose a number of special conditions that must be completed while on probation. Those conditions may be costly and time-consuming. In addition, your insurance rates will almost certainly increase, you could face professional discipline, you might be disqualified to apply for a change of status if you are not a U.S. citizen, and it could even interfere with custody or visitation with minor children.
- The prosecuting attorney will take advantage of you. The prosecuting attorney may act like he/she just wants to help you out and resolve your case as quickly as possible for your benefit; however, the reality is that it is his/her job to secure as many convictions as possible. The prosecutor is not your friend. On the contrary, he/she will take advantage of your naivete.
- There is a good chance you will overlook a potentially winning defense. Not all defendants have a viable defense, but then they are not required to with. It is the prosecutor’s burden to prove a defendant guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. Consequently, the job of a criminal defense attorney is often focused more on finding the flaws in the State’s evidence and argument than on developing a defense. An attorney has spent years in school and in practice learning how to identify and exploit the flaws in the State’s case and how to present a winning defense if necessary.
- You don’t have the experience and knowledge to negotiate. Obviously, the primary objective of any criminal defense attorney is to avoid a conviction altogether; however, sometimes a conviction is unavoidable. When that is the case, the focus shifts to negotiate a guilty plea agreement that is as advantageous to the defendant as possible. A prosecuting attorney knows that a defendant does not have the experience or skills to negotiate an agreement without an attorney, so why would the prosecutor bother negotiating any of the terms? An experienced defense attorney, on the other hand, can find the leverage needed to negotiate on your behalf.
- The judge will expect you to know both the law and the rules. A judge cannot force a defendant to hire an attorney in a criminal case; however, the judge can expect a pro se (self-represented) defendant to understand the relevant laws as well abide by the court rules and procedures. That means you must be aware of deadlines, discovery rules, and courtroom procedures. As a layperson, there is no reason you would already know any of this. Trying to learn all of it while also worrying about the outcome of your case is too much for most defendants.
Contact a Murfreesboro Defense Attorney
If you have additional questions or concerns about a criminal case in Murfreesboro, Tennessee, consult with an experienced Murfreesboro defense attorney at Bennett, Michael & Hornsby as soon as possible. Contact the team today by calling 615-898-1560 to schedule your appointment.