I am Innocent, Do I Need a Lawyer?
Have you been charged with a crime, been arrested, or being questioned as a possible suspect or person of interest in a crime? If the answer to any of these questions is yes, then you need to consult an attorney now. The earlier you hire an attorney to advocate for you, the better the chances of a positive outcome. Most likely you have a lot at stake, from your freedom to your finances, and you need to be proactive in protecting yourself.
You may be saying to yourself, "but I am innocent, why do I need a lawyer?" The good news is that you are innocent; however, establishing your innocence to law enforcement is trickier than simply stating your innocence. It is a common mistake to think that if you are innocent of a crime you can merely explain your innocence to the authorities and you will be exonerated. While we all like to hope and believe that truth and justice prevail, the fact is that isn't always the case. There are many individuals sitting in jails and prisons who are innocent of the crime and you need the right tools to make sure this isn't your fate. Because you know you are innocent, you may be tempted not to hire an attorney. You do have two other options under the United States legal system; you can choose to represent yourself or use a court appointed public defendant. Self-representation is never advisable. When dealing with the criminal justice system a "do it yourself" approach is risky and rarely successful. While you may not hire a plumber to fix a leaky faucet and end up with nothing more than a wet floor, not hiring an attorney to represent you will have much more dire consequences such as jail time. While it might save money in the beginning, think about the long-term consequences it is likely to have. As for using a public defender, a report by the U.S. Bureau of Justice Statistics, concluded that a higher percentage of defendants with publicly financed counsel were sentenced to incarceration than those with hired representation. This demonstrates that taking the time and money to hire a lawyer that has specific experience in the area of your case does pay off. Still not convinced that hiring a lawyer is in your best interest even if you are innocent? Below are specific reasons where a lawyer is necessary in helping you prove your innocence.
- Unless you yourself are an attorney, you do not have the necessary knowledge and experience to understand all of your legal rights as well as the crime you are being questioned for or the specifics of the charges being brought against you.
- Often during police questioning, it is easy for an individual to say something wrong that can be used against them at a later time. Having a qualified attorney by your side during questioning will allow him or her to help you from saying something that might make you look guilty or could be twisted by the prosecution.
- A lawyer will know and understand if or when your civil rights have been violated. By knowing if your rights have been violated, he or she can use this information to help your case or even get your case dropped altogether.
- An experienced lawyer will know all the elements of the crime you are being accused of and will be able to ensure that the evidence is fairly presented in court.
Being charged with a crime, or being questioned regarding a crime, can be an overwhelming process; one that the average individual who has had no experience with the criminal justice system can easily be swallowed up in. It is also important to remember that you not only need to hire a lawyer, but you need to hire one as quickly in the process as you can. The moment that you know you are being investigated in relation to a crime, you need to hire legal representation. Don’t wait until charges have been filed. This does not make you look guilty, it makes you smart! During the investigation, evidence is being compiled against you and by having a lawyer on your side during this process, your attorney can make sure that evidence in your favor is adequately investigated and preserved. Law enforcement has a job to do, and they are not on your side or concerned for your best interest, but your attorney is. In addition, by securing an attorney early in the process it is possible that he or she may be able to convince prosecutors that there is not enough evidence to file charges or to reduce the charges.
Hopefully, you have now absorbed enough supporting evidence that you will take charge of the situation and hire a lawyer. Another piece of advice that could be essential in your defense is to hire a local attorney in the county where you are being investigated or charged. Local attorneys are familiar with the courts, judges, law enforcement and prosecutors in the county in which they practice most. An experienced attorney uses this local knowledge and connections to make sure his or her clients are protected. This doesn’t have anything to do with what "strings they can pull", but with the fact that the more knowledge of the inner workings one has, the better prepared they can be. For instance, a local attorney with knowledge of opposing counsel and prosecutors will know how these individuals will present their argument. He or she will also have knowledge of local judges and will better be able to anticipate what evidence may be more convincing to a particular judge. All of this allows the lawyer to more effectively get his or her job done and done right.
Overall, your freedom and innocence in important and should be as important to your lawyer as it is to you. Don’t hesitate to secure a lawyer to protect your best interest and rights and lead you through the complicated United States legal system. A lawyer is your best defense.