Do I Need a Lawyer for My Case?

Hiring a lawyer for the less serious criminal case is usually a cost-benefit analysis for many people, especially those people on a budget. Not every person can afford a lawyer in every situation. When people call me for advice or respond to my marketing I give them an honest assessment of what benefit a lawyer will provide. Every case can benefit from a lawyer in the sense that every now and then a lawyer will spot mistakes or omissions that may result in the case being dropped, or the lawyer can convince the prosecutor to drop the charge due to some other reason.

In many less serious cases, however, especially cases that are eligible for diversionary programs, the program will be granted, or a similar result will be reached, whether you have a lawyer or don't have a lawyer. So, if that is the case why use a lawyer? For many people it removes the unknown from the process and answers questions including:

  • When do I get there?
  • Where do I stand?
  • Who do I talk to?
  • Do I sign up somewhere?
  • What forms do I need?
  • How do I fill them out?
  • What is a bail commissioner?
  • Where is probation?
  • How much will it all cost?
  • What do I say? (Or more importantly sometimes is what shouldn't I say!)

Having an attorney also typically gets you in and out of the courthouse much faster, and it removes the fear of speaking or addressing a judge in open court. If these benefits aren't worth it or you are comfortable navigating the unknown then in many cases you won't need a lawyer. Peace of mind is great for those who can afford it.

Beware of the lawyer you consult who tells you "if you're convicted of that charge you could get up to XYZ year(s) or months in jail." Good lawyers won't do that. There is no need to scare people into using legal services but I hear about it happening all too often.