Practicing in the Maryland courts, I see a number of criminal defendants representing themselves. In this economy, I can understand the need to save money. However, legal representation should not be where you cut corners.
I can't count the number of calls I have received in the last few months from individuals who represented themselves on what they deemed to be minor criminal or traffic matters. They may have been given advice from friends or family that if they went in to Court on their own (especially in certain counties), that they would receive the same treatment as those individuals who were represented by counsel. Honestly, sometimes that is the case. However, that is the exception, not the rule.
Attorneys know how to navigate the confusing and often personality-driven criminal justice system. They have a familiarity with the Judges and Prosecutors who handle these cases every day. Attorneys understand not only how to "work the system", but also the consequences of a guilty plea and how important it is to be able to one day expunge or erase their record of this case. Attorneys can help you obtain unsupervised probation rather than reporting to an agent every week or month and possibly paying a supervision fee. If it is a serious traffic case, you may receive points that would subject you to suspension or revocation of your license. Herein lies the problem.
If you go to court on your own, and plead guilty to let's say, shoplifting. If this is your first offense, you may be merely worried about not going to jail and you are happy that the Judge places you on probation with a fine only. However, years down the road, when you are trying to get a job and this criminal conviction comes up in a background check, you may be passed over for another equally qualified candidate without a criminal record. So, what do you do? You now call an attorney to try to get this off your record. Problem is that you are most probably not eligible for an expungement under these circumstances. Furthermore, you didn't realize that you could have preserved your right to have the Judge reconsider your sentence if you had only filed the proper motion in the required time frame. Bottom line; you may be stuck with this criminal record for the rest of your life. Don't let that happen to you. Seek legal representation on all criminal and serious traffic charges from the Law Offices of Richard P. Arnold.
Richard P. Arnold
For criminal defense legal services for charges ranging from DUI to drug, assault, rape and murder charges, contact the Law Offices of Richard P. Arnold. We offer free initial consultations, are available for evening and weekend appointments, accept credit cards and operate offices in Greenbelt, Rockville, Annapolis and Upper Marlboro. To contact us, call 301-850-4663.