If you're faced with a criminal charge, you might not be sure whether hiring an attorney is the right choice. Does that mean you're planning to take the case to trial? If not, then why you would need a criminal law attorney?
America's system of criminal law is complex, and there are plenty of reasons to retain counsel. That applies even if a person intends to plead guilty. Here is a look at some of the issues that justify hiring a lawyer.
Do You Have to Push for a Trial to Retain an Attorney?
The simple answer is no. The majority of cases never go to trial, but a lawyer is still useful even if you don't go to trial.
Why is that so? First, there are two very different outcomes if you don't take a criminal case to trial. The first possibility is that the court drops the charges. However, you'll likely want to have a lawyer guide you through the process of moving for the court to dismiss the case if it goes that way. The second possibility is that you enter a plea, usually as part of a plea agreement. In that scenario, you'll want a lawyer to verify that the agreement is thorough and represents your best interests under the circumstances.
What if You Plan to Plead Guilty?
Someone should read the charge documents and check the evidence to make sure there's a viable case. You don't want to plead guilty if a criminal law attorney believes you have a strong chance to get a judge to dismiss it.
If pleading guilty proves to be the best option, there may still be a possibility of negotiating. Nearly all prosecutors are comfortable making plea arrangements if it saves the state money and time. Even if the prosecution won't offer a deal, you can still plead guilty and then ask the judge for a lesser sentence. The judge doesn't have to give it, but it's a common response if the defendant shows contrition and cooperates with court-directed programs such as anger management or addiction counseling.
What if You Go to Trial?
Yes, you want a professional who knows criminal law to represent you at trial. If a trial looks like the best option according to your lawyer, then you'll need help with discovery requests, motions at hearings, and discussing the case with the court and prosecution. Even most lawyers facing criminal charges seek counsel so they can have an unbiased person looking at the case.