If I Didn't Do It, Why Do I Need a Lawyer?
Speak with a Chicago Criminal Defense Attorney If You're Facing a Criminal Prosecution
Oftentimes, television shows about lawyers are not correct or realistic. But sometimes the interactions between lawyers and clients are right on target. For example, take a recent TV episode in which an attorney was talking to a prospective client and his wife. The would-be client insisted that he was innocent of the charges against him, and asserted that he didn’t want to involve a lawyer "because it will make me look guilty," to which the lawyer replied, "No, being arrested makes you look guilty." While this was meant to be funny, but it was actually a fair characterization of a conversation that many in the legal profession have had with potential clients. It seems that some people still believe that if they are innocent, they do not need a lawyer to defend them in court because the judge will just know. But in real life, nothing could be further from the truth.
"Maybe I Can Talk the Police out of It"
Let us suppose that you are being investigated for an alleged criminal offense, and although you are completely innocent of the crime, you are being summoned into a police station to talk with officers or detectives. If you think that you can "talk your way out of" the investigation, think again. The police haven’t brought you to their turf to serve you tea and cookies while they politely ask you your side of the story. They have brought you there to obtain statements from you to be used in a prosecution against you. You can be sure that any and all information you provide them will be investigated with an eye towards discrediting you, and to further the goal of prosecuting you.
Without a lawyer to advise you and to assert and protect your Constitutional rights, you could unwittingly aid the prosecution by allowing them to undercut what might have been your defense. In more extreme circumstances, police investigators are able to cause innocent people to incriminate themselves in ways they couldn’t have even imagined. Imagine being questioned for hours at length, having your free will reduced to rubble, and then confessing to a crime you did not commit. It happens every day.
You Have the Right to an Attorney
Imagine that you have been arrested and charged with a crime for which you know you are absolutely innocent, but because your claims of innocence fell upon deaf ears at the station, you must go to court. As a criminal case defendant, you have an absolute right to be represented by an attorney on any "jailable" offense. If you do not have a Chicago defense attorney with you when you make your initial appearance before a judge, the judge will, in all likelihood, warn you of the possible penalties in your case and the need to have an attorney. Of course, if you cannot afford an attorney, you may request a public defender be appointed for you, and if you are found to be without sufficient means to hire your own attorney, one will be so appointed. But if you are employed or otherwise able to hire an attorney in the court’s view, you will likely be told to come back at a later date with your lawyer. If you continue to come back to court over and over again without a lawyer, the judge may lose patience, and this may have an adverse effect on your relationship with the judge.
Potential Problems with Representing Yourself
Of course, you may be permitted to represent yourself if, after inquiring into your education and experience, and after carefully informing you of the perils and pitfalls involved, the Court is of the opinion that the decision to waive counsel was made freely, voluntarily and knowingly. Keep in mind, however, that if you represent yourself you will be held to the same legal standards as a licensed attorney. In other words, you will be assumed to have knowledge of the rules of evidence, the rules of criminal procedure and the case law relevant to your case. You will be given no assistance or leeway by the court. If you make a mistake, no one can help you fix it afterwards.
Experienced Criminal Attorneys to Help You Navigate Unfamiliar Waters
If your plumbing was to go haywire, and your pipes were bursting, would you try and fix them yourself, or would you hire a plumber? If your electric wiring were to short out, wouldn’t you hire an electrician rather than risk your safety trying to repair it yourself? If you were seriously ill, wouldn’t you go to a doctor for diagnosis and treatment? So, if you are facing criminal charges or are being investigated, wouldn’t it make good sense to hire a lawyer who has the education, training, skill and experience to assist you in your hour of need?
Of course it does. If the criminal court is a raging river and your case is a boat on the water, then your lawyer is the captain whose job it is to successfully navigate those choppy waters and bring your boat to port safely. Try and navigate your ship on unfamiliar waters, unaware of the dangers below the surface, and you may very well sink.
So when you are facing a criminal prosecution, either after being charged or while still under investigation, you need a knowledgeable, aggressive legal team like the lawyers at Mitchell S. Sexner & Associates LLC. We will fight for your rights throughout Illinois. With offices in Arlington Heights and Chicago, we are ready to assist you in your time of need. Call us today at (800) 996-4824 to schedule an in-person, confidential, absolutely free consultation.