If you have recently been charged with a criminal offense in Florida you likely have a number of questions and concerns relating to your case. For most people, after arranging for bail, the most important consideration is hiring an attorney. You may, however, be wondering “ Should I represent myself in my Florida criminal case? ” While there is no law that requires you to hire an attorney to represent you, there are a number of reasons why you should not proceed pro se, or without legal representation.
Sometimes the decision to forego legal representation is made because a defendant isn’t particularly concerned about the potential penalties the offense in question carries if convicted, and the defendant plans to plead guilty. What people do not always consider though is that the non-judicial penalties are often worse than the judicial penalty handed down by the judge. Although some criminal offenses are unlikely to result in an actual jail sentence, the conviction itself will follow you for life. Absent a court order expunging or otherwise removing a judgment of conviction it will remain on your criminal history until you die, meaning the negative impact of the conviction will also remain with you for life. A conviction for misdemeanor theft, for instance, isn’t likely to land you in jail; however, that conviction will likely disqualify you for many jobs for the rest of your life. Likewise, a conviction for misdemeanor domestic battery may not require you to do any jail time; however, it can lead to deportation if you are a foreign national, disqualification for a conceal carry permit, an ineligibility for employment as a police officer or other similar positions.
Aside from not taking the long-term consequences of a conviction into account, the other reason you may want to reconsider proceeding pro se even if you plan to plead guilty is simply the fact that an attorney is likely to negotiate a better plea agreement for you than you can negotiate for yourself. Why spend a year on probation when you could have spent six months? Why waste time in classes that you don’t really need? Even if you have no intention of actually defending yourself you should still aim for the best plea agreement possible.
If you are currently facing criminal charges in the state of Florida and you have considered representing yourself in the case, take the time to consult with an experienced Florida criminal defense attorney as soon as possible to discuss your legal options before making a final decision. Contact Powers Sellers & Finkelstein, PLC when you need a criminal defense attorney working for you. Keep Calm Call Us®! 727-531-2926.