Do I Need a Criminal Lawyer When I’m Charged with a Crime?

Most people who have been charged with a crime need a criminal lawyer to protect their rights and reputation as much as possible. If a lawyer can help you keep a conviction off of your permanent record, it will most likely be of great value to you in the future.

If you are asking whether or not you need a criminal lawyer, there is a good chance that you or someone you love has been charged with a crime. There is no one simple answer to this question for every individual’s unique situation but many people feel that enlisting the help of a criminal lawyer to protect you when you have been charged with a crime is in an accused person’s best interest. If it is at all possible to prevent a conviction when you are charged with a crime, this is something you should try to do to keep it off of your permanent record.

Why does a criminal record matter?

It does not matter whether this is your first or your fifth criminal charge when it comes to trying to protect your permanent record from having a criminal conviction on it. Criminal convictions come with varying degrees of penalties and restrictions but even the smallest crime stays on your permanent record if you are convicted of it. Having a criminal conviction on your record can prevent you from qualifying for jobs. It can also interfere with security clearances you already have and may prevent you from getting clearances in the future.

In addition to potentially interfering with your employment, having a criminal record carries a social stigma that can make life difficult for the accused and their families.

What if I want a criminal lawyer but can’t afford one?

If you have committed a crime in the United States and do not have the money to hire a lawyer, your state or the federal government will provide an attorney-at-law appointed by the courts, to represent you. These lawyers are called public defenders and are full time attorneys employed by the state or federal governments.

Can I represent myself in my criminal defense case?

The law allows for individuals to represent themselves in criminal cases but this is not usually recommended. Even the most well-educated, well-read layperson who has spent hours and hours pouring over legal books and documents, will likely find it difficult to competently represent themselves in the criminal justice system.

Some examples of how a criminal defense lawyer may be able to help you in ways that you will not be able to help yourself include but are not limited to:

  • – Negotiate with prosecutors to reduce charges and/or lessen sentences. Many prosecutors do not want to negotiate with self-represented defendants and are purposefully uncooperative.
  • – Help you to deal with the fear, anxiety, stress, embarrassment and social stigma that often comes with a criminal charge or conviction.
  • – Explain to you upfront, all of the costs that you may wind up being responsible for, including “hidden” costs that many people do not find out about until bills they can’t afford come pouring in.
  • – Provide the accused with a realistic timeline and reality check for what the future may hold in relation to their charge/s.
  • For more questions and answers to these and other legal topics, visit the Law Education Center.

    Information is power. Help win your own case!