Getting accused of a crime is one of the most stressful things a person can experience. You may face jail time, house arrest, fines, or all three. You may have considered pleading guilty just to avoid the stress of a trial or you may be guilty and have decided that you will take whatever punishment the state doles out.
Even if you intend to plead guilty, it is best to get a lawyer. A criminal defense attorney may be able to get you a lighter sentence. They may also be able to get your case thrown out altogether.
There may be some very mild charges that will not require a lawyer. If you have been accused of shoplifting or have to appear in court for a minor first-time traffic offense, it was unlikely that you would need to be represented by counsel.
What if I want to plea bargain?
Often the prosecution will give an accused person a chance to plea-bargain. When you plea bargain, you plead guilty in exchange for a lesser sentence. If you attempt to plea-bargain without an attorney, you may get just as long as a sentence as if you had gone to trial.
It unlikely that you have the legal knowledge to negotiate with the prosecutor. The prosecuting lawyer will be an experienced and highly trained legal professional. They will be familiar with all the nuances of criminal law in the state of Florida.
If you hire a trained criminal attorney, they will have similar experience and knowledge to the prosecutor. They will have a much better idea if you’re getting a fair deal.
Am I legally required to hire an attorney?
There is no law requiring you to hire an attorney in the state of Florida. However, criminal laws in Florida are complex, and it takes years of experience to know what arguments will be effective.
A judge must find you mentally competent to represent yourself. They can order you to be represented by an attorney if they believe you are not mentally fit.
What is the success rate of people who represent themselves in court?
When a person represents themselves in court they will often lose. some very high-profile individuals have represented themselves in court only to be convicted of the crime of which they were accused. Many of them thought that attorneys were part of a system that was conspiring against them.
It is not uncommon for inmates to try and act as their own attorney in court because they want to be able to spend more time in the prison library. An inmate who is representing themselves will be able to get out of little chores so they can do their research.
Murder Charles Manson attempted to represent himself in court and was eventually ordered to use an attorney. Ted Bundy represented himself in court and ended up getting the death penalty. Famed comedian Lenny Bruce represented himself in court when he was accused of obscenity, unfortunately, he lost the case.
Finding an attorney to represent you may be easier than you think. You can call around to talk to local criminal attorneys or simply visit a website or two.
Your freedom is the most precious thing you have, you should never enter a courtroom without being prepared.