You made a mistake, and you got arrested. You feel pretty contrite about the whole thing, so you’re contemplating representing yourself in court. You figure that confessing your guilt might make the prosecutor go easy on you.
That’s a bad idea. Prosecutors aren’t necessarily interested in whether you’re sorry for your actions or not. Their job is to win convictions and punish crimes, so they’re more concerned with “outcomes” than fairness.
Here’s what a defense attorney can do for you — even if you accept that your actions were wrong:
They can try to get the severity of your charges lowered
Deciding how to charge someone for an offense is sometimes more of an art than a science. Prosecutors often engage in “up-charging,” where they elevate a crime that should be a misdemeanor to a felony or tack on a dozen “counts” of the same offense where one count would do. This is an intimidation tactic and a bargaining chip they try to use against defendants. If you’re not aware of the leeway in your case to reduce the charges, you could plead guilty to a serious offense unnecessarily.
They can negotiate a better plea deal
Some prosecutors won’t even offer a plea deal to a self-represented defendant. Even if a prosecutor is offering you a plea deal, however, it probably isn’t the best they can do. You have no way of knowing what’s normal in your situation — but an experienced defense attorney does. A good plea deal can drastically mitigate the consequences of your conviction.
They can help obtain alternative sentencing
Alternative sentences are available for many different offenses, particularly those involving alcohol or drugs. Your attorney may be able to get you into an alternative program that will keep you out of jail and clean your record once you complete the program.
If you’re facing criminal charges, don’t try to handle the problem yourself. Protect your interests and out what an experienced defense attorney can offer.