"Do I need a criminal attorney?"
Yes! If you are charged with a crime, you need a good Michigan criminal defense trial lawyer by your side and fighting for your rights! Trying to deal with the criminal justice system without an attorney insanity. They say that even a lawyer who represents himself has a fool for a client and an ass for an attorney. This being said, if you do not have the money to hire an attorney, you may be eligible for a court appointed attorney. If you are unable to retain a Michigan Criminal Lawyer, your next best option is court appointed counsel. If you have the resources to hire an retained criminal attorney, that is clearly your best option.
Self-Representation…A Recipe for Disaster
Many times I have had the opportunity to observe cases where the person accused of a crime attempted to represent themselves without a lawyer. In the law the term for such a person is in propria persona, or pro per for short. It literally means "by one's self." Imagine trying to carefully strategize and win a game of chess when you don't even know the rules. This is a similar scenario to the one encountered by the person appearing in court pro per.
There are many important aspects of your criminal case that will be severely hampered without a good, retained trial lawyer. I will only discuss two of these aspects so you can get an idea of the necessity of good representation.
Two Reasons you need the
Best Criminal Defense Attorney
The first aspect you are limited by is your ability to negotiate. The reason why a prosecutor won't negotiate with a person who is in pro per, a court appointed lawyer (in many cases) or a low-cost, low-reputation retained criminal lawyer is that this individual simply does not possess the credibility to be an effective negotiator with a prosecutor. The prosecutor knows that a person who is in pro per or a lawyer who does not have a reputation for being a great Michigan criminal defense trial lawyer, doesn't possess the experience, talent and tenaciousness to be a credible threat. The prosecutor is not going to haggle over legal issues with a non-lawyer or weak lawyer.
Prosecutors can be very cynical. In my experience, one of the best ways to get a prosecutor to listen is to convince them that there is a real risk that they may not be able to win at trial. For legal reasons a judge may not let them introduce certain evidence at trial, or an element of the crime charged may be weak. A prosecutor is much more apt to acknowledge these potential problems in your case if they are brought to the prosecutor's attention by an experienced, aggressive trial lawyer who has earned their respect.
The second aspect that you are severely limited by when you aren't represented by a good trial lawyer is the ability to effectively present your case and prevail at trial. If you want to win at trial, you need a good trial attorney. All the evidence in your favor does little good if you can't get it admitted or if it is not admitted in a persuasive and compelling way. You wouldn't go to a professional boxing match thinking you could climb into the ring, throw a lucky punch and walk away with a title belt. The reality is that you would probably walk away in need of medical attention, if you walked away at all. Attempting to try a criminal case where your freedom is at stake without a good trial lawyer may end very badly for you.
Best Plea Bargain
This all being said, if you want a great plea bargain the way to achieve an extraordinary result is to be represented by a great trial lawyer. Why do you need a great trial lawyer if you only want a great plea bargain? Because the two go hand-in-hand. If a lawyer is known as a "plea lawyer" or is an unsuccessful trial attorney, the prosecutor has no incentive to give an amazing plea bargain and the judge has no incentive to offer a lenient sentence.
"Do I need a local criminal lawyer?"
Is there an advantage to hiring a local lawyer? Maybe and maybe not. The more important question is whether there is an advantage to hiring a great criminal lawyer. There is a distinct disadvantage to hiring a local lawyer that is not very good because everyone in the court will know the lawyer is not good. A lawyer that goes golfing with the judge or dinner with the prosecutor has LESS ability to achieve a superior result than a lawyer who is respected by the judge and prosecutor because he or she is an outstanding criminal defense lawyer and a credible threat to win in court.
My practice is mostly in Oakland County, Wayne County, Macomb County and throughout Southeastern Michigan. When I get calls from prospective clients in Northern or Western Michigan, clients often wonder if hiring an Oakland County/Wayne County/Macomb County criminal attorney is best. It is critical to remember that the lawyer who is more of a friend than a lawyer is more likely to sell out the client rather than fight for a great result. The best lawyer is one who is not afraid to win!
Is your life, career and family important to you?
Is your life, career and family important to you? This is obviously a rhetorical question and the answer is clearly "YES!" This being said, if you are charged with a crime, a warrant has been issued for you, or you are the suspect in a criminal allegation, there has never been a more important time in your life than now to do what is necessary to retain the best lawyer you can get. If you bargain hunt now or go with a friend's lawyer because they are offering you a discount, you can expect a discounted result as well…one that you may regret for the rest of your life.
There are so many facets of a criminal case that a good trial lawyer can help you with. When you, or someone you love, are facing criminal charges it is also of great value to have the peace of mind that your case is being handled by the most experienced professional available and one who can achieve the best possible result.
Randy Lewis, Esq.
Michigan Criminal Defense Attorney