If you're facing a misdemeanor charge, you're likely wondering if it would be worthwhile for you to hire a criminal defense lawyer to represent you or not. Many people make the decision to handle misdemeanor offenses without hiring an experienced attorney to be by their side, instead attempting to represent themselves in the courtroom or using the service of a public defender.
This isn't something we would recommend, as having an attorney as your legal representation can play a huge role in the outcome of your case. In fact, an attorney could help lower your charges or even get them dropped altogether.
Representing Yourself in the Courtroom
The Sixth Amendment of the Constitution gives citizens the right to seek legal representation in all criminal cases. However, some jurisdictions actually allow a defendant to act as their own representation, instead of obtaining an experienced attorney. In order to do this, you would have to request the permission of the court and you'll need to have a separate proceeding to present any knowledge that would make you qualified to take on this role.
In most cases, people are not able to prove they have the skills and understanding required to represent themselves in the courtroom. In this case, the court will require you to seek the aid of a public defender or another court-appointed attorney. If you do not qualify for either one of these, you will be forced to hire a private attorney on your own.
If a public defender or another attorney is appointed to you, you have no say in who takes on your case. You may wind up working with an attorney who is not the most experienced in criminal defense cases. For this reason, it's preferred that you seek out legal representation on your own so you can be sure you have someone qualified to take on your case when you head to the courtroom.
Why a Criminal Defense Attorney Can Help
A skilled, qualified criminal defense attorney can easily make a difference in the outcome of your case. Although many people don't take misdemeanor charges seriously, they absolutely should. Any kind of criminal charge can leave you facing jail time, exorbitant fines, and will ultimately blemish your public record.
A criminal defense attorney will be experienced after handling many cases and will have the knowledge of all the laws in your site. This will work in your favor in the courtroom because your attorney can put together a strong defense that could potentially keep you out of a jail cell. Don't be fooled into thinking only felonies will leave you serving time. Regular misdemeanors in the state of Rhode Island can have you facing six months to one year in of imprisonment.
As mentioned above, a criminal charge will leave an unsightly blemish on your public record for anyone to discover. If you are applying to jobs, attempting to get a loan, or even trying to secure housing, misdemeanor charges will show up in a background search. A simple online search could reveal every arrest you've ever had and details of your battle in the courtroom. However, the help of a criminal defense attorney could prevent any misdemeanor from leaving you with a permanent record that could be damaging to you in the future.
Finding the Right Criminal Defense Attorney
The ideal criminal defense attorney to take on your misdemeanor charges is one who is experienced and knowledgeable. You want someone who has a history of taking on a variety of cases for clients and getting favorable results in the courtroom. You want someone who is knowledgeable about all the laws and will be able to put together a strong defense to represent you in the most effective way possible.
Having a confident and capable attorney by your side when your case heads to the courtroom will make all the difference. It might just be the thing that keeps you out of jail and prevents you from having to pay expensive fines and hindering your future opportunities.