Facing criminal charges is a nerve-wracking experience. If it’s your first time in the system, you’re probably nervous, and that’s to be expected. Whether you’re innocent or guilty, you’re going to need to go through the court system and your fate will be in the hands of a judge or jury.
In the United States, if you can’t afford a lawyer, you have the right to a public defender when facing criminal charges. However, some people choose to represent themselves. While this works great on television, it doesn’t work out so well in real life.
If you’re facing any of these five criminal charges, you’re better off with an attorney – even a public defender if that’s all you can get.
If you’re facing murder charges, you definitely need an attorney. Although many people try, murder is one of the worst charges to face on your own.
Next to a lack of knowledge and experience, the biggest problem with representing yourself against murder charges is going to be the impact you make on the jury. At some point, you’ll end up cross-examining survivors, family members, and witnesses to the crime. Naturally, you’ll pick apart their testimony and challenge their accounts.
When an accused murderer cross-examines victims, family members, and witnesses, they usually become visibly upset and the jury will pick up on this. Juries tend to have extreme sympathy for victims who express emotional pain, and even if you’re truly innocent, you can’t avoid this negative impact.
You might be surprised to learn that many people completely get out of DUI/DWI charges, but that’s generally only possible with an attorney. The nuances of getting DUI/DWI charges dropped usually hinge on procedural errors committed by arresting officers.
For example, if the traffic stop that led to your arrest was invalid, you might be able to get your charges dropped. You can also get your charges dropped if the arresting officer did anything wrong during your stop or if there are gross errors in the police report.
3. Making terrorist threats
Terrorist threats are sometimes called other things in various states, but the punishments are getting harsher for this crime. Juries won’t necessarily have sympathy for you if you claim you were just mad or upset when you made the threats.
Since many mass shooters tend to make both specific and vague threats prior to their attack, people don’t give the benefit of the doubt very often. It’s possible to persuade a jury that you were just upset, but don’t count on that being your experience.
Facing burglary charges is a huge deal. In most states, all types of burglary charges are felonies, and they come with severe consequences that include time in prison and huge fines.
While the burden of proof is high for first-degree burglary in most states, it’s not hard to prove. For instance, the prosecution will need to prove that you unlawfully entered the premises intending to commit a crime and you were either armed or assaulted someone during the burglary.
Today’s home security camera systems can easily prove all the above factors, especially when those cameras were running inside the house.
You might not be able to escape a conviction, but with an attorney, you at least have a chance at getting a lesser sentence than your state’s maximum.
In most places, arson is a serious criminal charge that can come with hefty penalties. Generally, arson can be either a felony or misdemeanor, but in some states, it’s always a felony.
Deliberately starting a fire is not taken lightly by the courts. It doesn’t matter if you started a fire on some land, in a house, or simply lit someone’s personal property on fire – you’re going to face serious charges. If you committed arson for fraudulent purposes, the consequences will be even worse.
For example, say you decide to burn your own personal property in order to collect on the insurance premium. That’s considered felony arson in many states. You could end up spending years in jail if you don’t have an attorney to fight for a lesser sentence.
Don’t risk being given a harsher sentence
Depending on your circumstances, you could be facing more time in prison than you’d like to consider. That’s why you need an attorney. Don’t risk being handed the maximum sentence simply because you don’t know how to negotiate a better deal.
Get an attorney – they’ll fight for you in every way possible to get the best outcome for your case.