Abraham Lincoln once said that a man who represents himself has a fool for a client. In criminal defense cases, Mr. Lincoln had it right.
As an experienced criminal defense attorney in Cleveland, I am frequently asked by new clients if they really need a lawyer. Defendants who consider themselves completely innocent or caught during a crime ask the question equally. The thinking goes: if innocent you do not need a lawyer, if guilty it is too late. Both perspectives are wrong. Let me tell you why.
Being arrested on any criminal charge is serious. My law firm handles federal and state matters. I know the consequences of a conviction and the very real possibility that innocent defendants may be found guilty and that persons involved in a crime may face improper charges. Working with a good criminal lawyer is essential. You should contact a lawyer as soon as you know you are under suspicion.
Criminal defense lawyers, like all legal counsel, cost money. If you can prove indigence, you have a right to help from a public defender. The right to counsel is an important privilege you should never ignore. Effective criminal defense attorneys can step in immediately to mitigate the effect of arrest on your life, livelihood and future. Consider these points:
An attorney appointed to you by the Office of the Ohio Public Defender is usually well experienced, but overworked. Private counsel offers skilled, personal representation focused on a good outcome to your case.
Defendants without counsel more often plead guilty and bear the full weight of charges against them.
Conviction on any charge means a criminal record that imposes long-lasting collateral damage on employment, education and even residential opportunities.
Experienced legal counsel is familiar with the procedures and personalities of the local criminal justice system. Without legal representation, you have no idea if your rights were violated, if charges against you are fair and whether your arrest on the charges you face was even appropriate.
In Cleveland or elsewhere, if you are facing criminal charges — do the right thing if you want the right outcome. Retain a good criminal defense lawyer.