Why Hire a Criminal Lawyer, Even for Seemingly Minor Offenses?

Posted on: 15 February 2017

If you've been charged with an offence that is not a simple traffic ticket, you may want to consider hiring a criminal lawyer. It's easy to think that their services are not necessary for seemingly minor offences, or to think that you can handle the case on your own, without legal advice. Note a few reasons why that thinking may be very short-sighted, and why it's good to hire a legal professional no matter the type of charge you're facing.

1. You may be confusing or misunderstanding the charges

As an example of what it means to confuse a charge, you might assume a ticket for loitering means a simple fine; however, in some areas, if you're loitering near an area known for drug crimes, or are loitering on public property or near a school, this charge may be more serious than you realise. You may wind up with a misdemeanour offence on your record, and police may find your name on their records when they investigate future crimes in that same area. Don't assume you understand what a charge actually means but hire an attorney so he or she can explain all the details and the punishment, potential marks on your record, and everything else involved with the charge.

2. Your past record may cost you more than you realise

If you've  been charged with something minor but have any type of criminal record, this might complicate your case. A judge may think that you need to face the maximum punishment for the crime because of your past record, whereas an attorney may know how to keep that record out of court or how to negotiate with the prosecutor so that your past record isn't as much of a factor. Don't assume that your current charges will stand on their own, but always talk to an attorney when you have a record of any sort.

3. Prosecutors may try to "trump up" the charges

Some prosecutors may try to set an example of a defendant, adding charges or over-exaggerating them. As said above, a simple loitering charge may become something more serious if the prosecutor is trying to get tough on drug sales in an area where you were charged. If you were with juveniles, a prosecutor may try to say that you were contributing to the delinquency of a minor, or something similar. Rather than trust that your minor charges will stay minor, have an attorney handle your case for you.