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“Should I represent myself in my Florida criminal case?”
Have you have recently been charged with a criminal offense in Pinellas County or Hillsborough, Florida? You more than likely have many questions and concerns relating to your case. For most people, after arranging for bail, the most crucial 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.
Most likely, you don’t have legal training. So generally, the main drawback of self-representation for you is the deficiency of legal expertise necessary to effectively navigate the complicated criminal process. Knowing the law and how courtroom procedures work can mean the difference between winning and losing a case. Call us for a free evaluation at (727) 531-2926 anytime, 24-7 before you make this decision.
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Are you deciding to forego legal representation because you aren’t particularly concerned about the potential penalties you may get if you’re convicted, and/or you plan to plead guilty?
What you may not have considered 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.
Here are a few examples of long term consequences from representing yourself in a criminal case:
- 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
- ineligibility for employment as a police officer or other similar positions.
- DUI cases are some of the most difficult cases to defend, even for experienced lawyers.
- Lack of knowlege can result in causing your insurance premium to rise dramatically after a DUI conviction. It may not only quadruple, but you could also lose your coverage entirely.
- There are two types of bargaining: Plea and sentencing-Which one will you need?
- Even if you handled your first DUI by simply pleading guilty, you will most likely need the assistance of a DUI attorney for subsequent DUI charges. That’s because second, third, and fourth DUI offenses almost always involve jail timeEven if you handled your first DUI by simply pleading guilty, you will most likely need the assistance of a DUI attorney for subsequent DUI charges. That’s because second, third, and fourth DUI offenses almost always involve jail time
Negotiating a Plea Agreement When Representing Yourself
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, or just chat with us below!
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