This is the first post in my series discussing why it is important to hire an attorney when one is charged with a misdemeanor in the state of Arizona. This series is being written for two reasons. First, many mistakenly believe that they can not afford to hire a lawyer. Second, many err by thinking that an attorney will not be able to achieve a more desirable resolution to their case. Throughout the course of this series I will be addressing questions which I am frequently asked as well as other information. My goal with these writings is to provide information which can be used in making the best decision when one is charged with a misdemeanor.
During this series, I will cover a number of specific topics in more depth. Topics that I will cover include:
- Deciding whether or not hiring a private attorney for a misdemeanor is a good investment
- A discussion of why pleading guilty to domestic violence, without first speaking to counsel, can significantly impact one’s future
- An analysis of how hiring a lawyer can protect one’s rights in a DUI case
Phoenix and Maricopa County Courts will often allow a defendant to plead guilty in a misdemeanor case even though they have yet to speak with a lawyer. It may be tempting to accept the initial plea deal that is offered by a prosecutor as opposed to spending money to retain a criminal defense lawyer. This temptation leads many to feel that they should cut their losses, serve a short jail sentence, pay their fine, and get on with their lives. The unfortunate truth, however, is that many people wind up taking a plea offer which dramatically impacts their future in ways they later regret. This is why it is crucial to speak with counsel before making a court appearance in any matter, even if it is a misdemeanor and you feel it is “no big deal.”
A defendant who takes a plea offer runs two risks. First, they may not recognize that they have rights or defenses which could lead to the case being dismissed. Second, even if the case can be won, there may be issues present which would lead to a better offer from prosecutors if said issues are pointed out. When the prosecutor asks to talk with you and offers you a plea, they will not point out issues that could be helpful to your case. Instead they will point out the potential penalties for a case (which are often much worse than what the Judge will actually impose). This leaves many defendants believing that they are facing very stiff penalties and, as a result, entering into a guilty plea out of fear of the potential outcome. Many defendants, however, plead guilty in this manner without realizing that it is easy to have their cases analyzed. Most criminal defense lawyers in the Phoenix area offer consultations for free or for a small fee. Going to a consultation, and discussing your case with a qualified attorney, does not take up much of one’s time and provides an opportunity to gain insight into your options. Having an understanding of your options is a good thing and it is foolish to not at least schedule a consultation with a lawyer before your first hearing.
If you have been charged with a misdemeanor then do not make the mistake of thinking that legal advice is unnecessary. Contact a misdemeanor defense lawyer today. My office serves Phoenix as well as other Maricopa County cities such as Mesa, Glendale, Scottsdale, Chandler, and Gilbert. We also assist Pima County residents in Tucson.