If You're Charged with a Crime and Don't Hire a Lawyer, You're Making a Huge Mistake
We all like to believe that our legal system is effective at protecting the innocent and bringing the guilty to justice. And while the system used in the US is generally thought of as being quite efficient, that doesn't mean it's perfect. In fact, a study found that as many as 10,000 people a year may be wrongfully convicted of significant crimes. While that number would be huge for just accusations, it's absolutely staggering when you think in terms of actual convictions.
Because that study shows being innocent isn't enough to guarantee your rights are protected, it's not difficult to see why just about anyone with any legal experience recommends hiring an attorney to represent even the seemingly smallest case. While most people have seen examples of lawyers on TV or in movies, there are still plenty of questions about exactly what a lawyer can do throughout the course of a legal matter.
To answer that question, let's dive into exactly why it's almost always in your best interest to hire the right lawyer to represent you during a legal proceeding:
There's So Much to Know
Sure, you can get a basic understanding about the laws regarding a specific crime by spending five minutes reading an article. But when it comes to dealing with those laws in court, what you can read in a quick summary or even a more detailed guide will only scratch the surface of what you should know. It's far too easy for someone who lacks extensive legal knowledge and experience to quickly ruin what should have been a straightforward case. Since it only takes one mistake to lose, that's a risk that's just not worth taking.
Lawyers Know How to Handle Evidence
Just because evidence is presented doesn't mean it has to be accepted. In fact, it's possible for certain pieces of evidence to be completely thrown out. While this is common knowledge for lawyers, the same can't be said for people with no legal experience. And even if a defendant knows they don't have to automatically accept evidence, that doesn't mean they know what needs to be done in order to get rid of it.
Not Hiring a Lawyer Can Be Very Expensive
One of the most common reasons people even consider representing themselves in court is because they think it's going to be too expensive to hire a lawyer. While media stories about lawyers who charge more than $1,000 an hour make it easy to understand that misconception, there are two important things to remember.
First, lawyers who specialize in areas like criminal law want to make their services attainable. Otherwise, they wouldn't have a business. And second, not hiring a lawyer in the first place can end up being even more expensive. Whether it's because one has to be hired to clean up mistakes or the penalty of a case ends up being much higher because a lawyer wasn't there to negotiate, not getting quality legal representation is actually what can get quite costly.
Access to Expert Witnesses
As a result of their years or decades practicing law, legal professionals like a lawyer in Philly usually have a network of expert witnesses. Although that may not seem like a big deal to someone who doesn't have any experience in the legal field, the reality is being able to bring in someone who's considered an expert in their field to testify can significantly strengthen a case.
Aware of Filing Requirements and Deadlines
A surprising fact about cases involving people representing themselves is plenty are derailed as a result of those individuals simply messing up some aspect of the paperwork. While that may seem like the easiest part of a case, it can actually be quite confusing. And since the last thing anyone wants is to be fined or even end up in jail because of botched forms, letting a lawyer handle this is very wise.
Most Cases Aren't as Clear as Just Innocent or Guilty
Although that's what a case may come down to in the end, there are a lot of negotiations that can take place through the proceedings. Since those negotiations can involve significantly reducing the severity of a sentence, it's immensely useful to have a lawyer who can bargain hard on your behalf.
Being accused of a crime can be very scary. But as long as you take the time to find and hire a lawyer who has the right skills and experience, you can be confident that they will fight to protect your rights and freedom.
Tara Fernandez is a veteran reporter. While she's written about a wide range of subjects, she always finds herself most interested in legal matters.