In most cases, you have the right to self-representation in criminal court. However, that does not mean that it is a good idea. It can be very risky to represent yourself when facing criminal charges and saying the wrong thing could result in a guilty verdict. There are serious penalties for misdemeanor and felony criminal charges, including:
- Jail time
- A permanent criminal record
Some criminal convictions can limit your future opportunities, including professional licensing, finding a job, getting a place to live, and ownership of a firearm. For people who are not U.S. citizens, there may also be immigration consequences of a criminal conviction, including removal proceedings and deportation.
From the pre-trial process, plea negotiations, criminal trial, and appeals, a trial lawyer can provide the legal representation to give you the best opportunity to avoid a criminal conviction.
Should I Work With Police or Prosecutors on My Case?
Many people think that if they did not do anything wrong, they don’t have anything to worry about. Unfortunately, innocent people go to prison all the time. Some innocent people even plead guilty to a crime they never committed. Many of these people did not hire a criminal defense lawyer.
When law enforcement talks to a suspect, they may be trying to get evidence to use as probable cause to make the arrest. Even if you did nothing wrong, you have the right to remain silent and ask for a lawyer if you are taken into custody. This may be the best option to protect yourself from saying something that can be used against you, even if it was taken out of context.
Prosecutors are interested in getting convictions. Most criminal cases in Dallas are settled before they go to trial by a plea agreement. The prosecutor may make it seem like there is no chance and the defendant should accept the plea bargain for a lighter sentence instead of getting the maximum sentence after a trial. If you cooperate with the prosecutor without talking to a criminal law attorney for legal advice, you may end up signing away your legal rights and end up facing jail time.