Should I Still Hire an Attorney if I Think I’m Guilty?
It's a familiar scenario—someone is accused of a crime, immediately jumps to the guilty verdict, and wonders whether it's worth it to hire an attorney. After all, if you're guilty, the evidence will prove it, right?
The answer is not so simple.
Hiring an attorney is not only about proving your innocence; it’s about working to reduce the consequences of the charges against you. Believe it or not, about 94% of all criminal convictions result from guilty pleas, not jury verdicts. In this blog post, we'll explore why you should always hire an attorney, even if you think you're guilty.
For practical and experienced legal counsel, reach out to me at Kyle H. Jarzmik Law. I serve clients facing criminal charges in and around Atlanta, Georgia, as well as throughout the state, including Fulton County, Cobb County, Douglas County, Carroll County, and more.
Possible Consequences of a Guilty Plea
Thinking about pleading guilty to a crime in Atlanta, Georgia?
Here are some potential ramifications of a guilty plea that you need to keep in mind.
If you plead guilty, you may face incarceration time. The judge will determine the length of the sentence based on the severity of the crime.
Hiring an attorney can help reduce the sentence length or get you a better deal during plea bargaining. A skilled lawyer can argue for probation or alternatives like house arrest in place of jail time.
Apart from serving time, pleading guilty often leads to hefty fines. The amount of the fine varies depending on the crime committed. However, the right lawyer can help bring down the fines.
Suspension or Loss of a Driver's License
Some crimes lead to the suspension or loss of a driver's license, which could have significant consequences on your life. You may lose employment if your job requires you to operate a vehicle.
An attorney can help you avoid losing your license, and if you do, they help ensure that you're eligible for temporary licenses or work permits.
Probation is a common consequence of a guilty plea and restricts your freedom for a set period. During probation, you will be subject to conditions such as random drug testing, check-ins with a probation officer, and community service.
Probation can be challenging, especially if you're working. You need a lawyer who can argue for a non-reporting or unsupervised probation period or, better yet, have probation terminated altogether.
Even if you plead guilty to a seemingly minor crime, a conviction can impact your ability to get a job.
Certain industries require background checks, and employers may not be willing to hire someone with a criminal record. It's essential to have a lawyer who can protect your rights and ensure that your plea deal doesn't reflect poorly on your criminal history.
Loss of a Professional License
If you hold a professional license, a criminal charge against you could cost you that license. This consequence can severely limit your employment options in the future.
For example, if you’re a licensed nurse and are charged with theft, you could lose your nursing license and be unable to work in the healthcare field again.
Inability to Carry a Firearm
By being found guilty of charges, you could be restricted from owning or possessing a firearm. These rules vary, but even if you’re not someone who currently owns a firearm, this penalty is far-reaching. An experienced criminal attorney can help you understand the firearm regulations of your state and protect your rights.
If you’re not a U.S. citizen and you’re charged with a criminal offense, you could face deportation. The U.S. government can take this action even if you’ve lived in the U.S. for most of your life or have no other place to go.
Loss of Visitation or Custody of Minor Children
If you are a parent, a conviction of a criminal offense could also lead to the loss of custody or visitation with your minor children.
Damage to Personal and Familial Relationships
If you’re found guilty of a crime, the stigma can be long-lasting and damage the trust others have in you. An experienced attorney can help you protect your reputation and, in some cases, negotiate plea deals or lesser charges to minimize damage.
Reasons to Hire an Attorney Even if You Think You Are Guilty
Should I still hire an attorney if I think I'm guilty? Almost always, the answer is yes. Here's why:
Advise You of Your Options
One of the most essential aspects of hiring a criminal defense attorney is the legal guidance they can provide. A professional attorney can advise you of your legal options and offer their expertise to help you make informed decisions.
Without a lawyer, you might not be aware of the consequences of your actions or the various legal options available to you.
Burden of Proof
Even if you think you are guilty, it is essential to remember that the prosecution has to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that you are guilty.
An attorney can help you understand the prosecution's case against you and poke holes in their argument.
Negotiate a Plea Deal
If you are guilty, getting a plea deal can significantly reduce your potential sentence. A plea deal would involve pleading guilty to a lesser crime in exchange for a reduced sentence.
Alternatives to Jail
It is always preferable to avoid jail time if possible, and an attorney can help you find alternative sentences for your crime. For example, house arrest, community service, or probation may be viable options.
Make Sure the Punishment Fits the Crime
If you were falsely accused of a crime or if the prosecutor is seeking an overly-harsh sentence, your attorney can advocate for a fair and just outcome. An attorney can work with prosecutors and judges to ensure that the sentence is proportional to your crime.
Communicating With Your Defense Attorney
The legal process can be overwhelming, especially if you're not familiar with it. A criminal defense lawyer can guide you through the process and explain what is going on at each stage. They can also help you make informed decisions about plea bargains and other options.
When communicating with your attorney, remember to be honest and forthcoming. Your lawyer can only help you if they know the truth. If you're not truthful with them, they won't be able to build a strong defense.
Also, ask questions if you don't understand something they've said. Your attorney is there to help you understand the process and make informed decisions.
Don’t Face This Alone
If you've been accused of a crime, guilty or not, you might be faced with a barrage of emotions. You might feel hopeless and as though there is nowhere else to turn. At Kyle H. Jarzmik Law, I’ll do everything I can to help you navigate your legal situation. Contact me for experienced guidance in your case, no matter how bleak it might seem.