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I did what they are accusing me of. What’s the point of hiring a lawyer?

Posted by on in Criminal Defense
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First, all crimes require both a physical act and a certain mental state. Even if you did the thing you are accused of may not make you guilty of a crime. For example, the differences between First Degree Murder, Second Degree Murder, Manslaughter and Criminally Negligent Homicide are primarily based on the mental state of the accused. One of those crimes carries a penalty of death or life in prison without parole while the others carry vastly lesser sentences and for some, even the possibility of probation.

For many crimes there are specific defenses based on circumstances. You may have acted in self-defense or the defense of another, or you may have had a right to protect your property, or you may have been mentally or physically impaired or drunk or drugged.

In other situations you may be guilty of a crime, but not the crime you are charged with, and even in cases where a person’s guilt is clear and there is no real defense, there is often the question of what sentence is appropriate and how to argue for the right sentence.

An attorney can help you decide if the prosecution can prove their case and if you should go to trial. An attorney should be able to tell you if you have been appropriately charged; if there are any defenses to the charges; what a fair plea bargain should include; what sentence you might face if you are convicted and whether your rights were violated such that a successful is in doubt. And of course, an attorney will be your representative in dealing with the prosecution and the court and at trial if that is necessary.

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