“I’ve been charged with a crime. Do I need a lawyer?”
If you have to ask this question, the answer is likely “yes.” One of the realities of the criminal system is that events that you know are simple or minor may not be so simple or minor in the eyes of the police, prosecutors or court. Many, many people have arrived at court to address what they believe is a minor matter only to find out that an event or statement has been misconstrued and the case is now much more serious than they believed.
Just as frequently, someone goes in to court and resolves what they think is a minor matter, only to find out that it has serious ramifications they didn’t know about.
Criminal charges can affect areas of your life you may not expect:
- professional licensure suspensions or loss
- restrictions to your ability to attend or participate in your child’s school events
- loss of current employment
- impairment of future employment
- drivers license suspensions
- loss of commercial driver’s licence
- auto insurance rate increases
- ineligibility for, or loss of, financial aid for school
- loss of insurance coverage
- loss of license to possess or carry firearms
- sex offender, DNA or domestic violence registration
- civil commitment as a sexually dangerous person
The severity of your circumstances can be determined only with the aid of an experienced criminal defense lawyer, and only after he or she is familiar with the facts of your case and learns about who you are.
If you’ve never been involved with the criminal justice system before, being charged with a crime can be a terrifying experience. Before you have a chance to even understand what’s happening, you can be forced to make critical decisions in a situation that you may know nothing about. And making the wrong decision can have implications for the rest of your life.
If you are wondering if you need a lawyer, you probably do.