Should I Still Hire an Attorney if I Think I’m Guilty?
June 6, 2023
You’ve been charged with a crime, and in your heart, you know you committed it. You figure it’s best just to plead guilty in hopes that they’ll go easy on you to reward your honesty. But putting your hope into this could end up with you in a worse situation. They could just as easily “throw the book” at you.
Therefore, it is imperative that you stop and think before admitting anything. In fact, before you even answer any questions from police or prosecutors, seek out the counsel and advice of an experienced criminal defense attorney.
Remember, the prosecutors must prove your guilt “beyond a reasonable doubt” before a jury of your peers. They also must follow established procedures, or they could be in violation of your constitutional rights, which would be grounds for getting the charge thrown out. In popular parlance, think before you leap. You have no real idea what lies below for you.
Of course, you could also agree to a plea deal, but again, question whether it’s the best deal for you—or the best deal for prosecutors. Generally, it will be the latter, so again, you need to seek counsel from a skilled defense attorney. A better deal may be available.
If you are facing a criminal charge in or around Chesterfield, Missouri, contact me at Walker Law LLC. I have a background in law enforcement, so I know how the “other side” operates and can anticipate and counter many of their moves while working for the best possible outcome in your case. I also proudly serve clients in Town and Country, Cottleville, and throughout St. Louis County and Charles County.
Possible Consequences of a Guilty Plea
If you plead guilty, you have thereby given up your right to a trial by a jury of your peers, and the judge in your case can assign penalties according to the crime with which you are charged. Each offense carries its own set of possible penalties, but some of the consequences of a guilty plea include the following:
SERVING TIME: If it’s a misdemeanor, you could end up behind bars in a county jail; if it’s a felony, you could end up in state prison.
FINES: In addition to incarceration, a judge can order you to pay a fine.
RESTITUTION: You may also be ordered to pay restitution to the victim, especially if you stole something from them of value that was never returned, or you damaged property that needs repair.
SUSPENSION OR LOSS OF A DRIVER’S LICENSE: If you plead guilty to a DUI (driving under the influence), you can have your driving privileges suspended.
PROBATION: The judge could order you to serve probation after your time behind bars, or if you’re lucky, your sentence could be suspended while you meet the terms of your probation, which can be fairly onerous: checking in periodically with a parole officer, maintaining employment, no drugs or alcohol, rehabilitative classes, and community service.
EMPLOYMENT CONSEQUENCES: Since employment is at will in Missouri, your employer can easily terminate you for even facing a criminal charge, let alone going to jail or being placed on probation.
A CRIMINAL RECORD: If you plead guilty, the offense will become part of your criminal record, which is easily viewable by the public, including prospective employers. This could make obtaining work extremely difficult. It can also bar you from many public benefits and even prevent you from obtaining professional licensing. In some cases, it will also bar you from obtaining or bearing firearms.
DEPORTATION: If you are here illegally here or awaiting a green card, certain crimes could lead to removal—deportation.
LOSS OF VISITATION RIGHTS WITH YOUR CHILDREN: Depending on the crime, you could also be barred from visiting your children.
DAMAGE TO YOUR PERSONAL AND FAMILY RELATIONSHIPS: When all is said and done, a guilty plea can strain your relationships with family and friends.
Reasons to Hire an Attorney Even if You Think You’re Guilty
The number one reason is that your defense attorney may be able to achieve a better outcome for you. First, there are your constitutional rights. If the evidence against you was obtained illegally—meaning the search and seizure were unjustified or lacked a search warrant—that could be grounds for a dismissal of the case. Likewise, if authorities lacked probable cause to arrest you or failed to read you your Miranda Rights (which state that “anything you say can and will be used against you”), that can also be a violation.
Your attorney can also examine the evidence against you to determine if it is enough to allow prosecutors to prevail “beyond a reasonable doubt.” If the evidence looks iffy, that can be the grounds for a better plea deal than the prosecutors would offer on their own. Your attorney can also present your side of the story to prosecutors in an effort to obtain a better plea bargain, or even to get the charge lessened or perhaps even dropped.
Your attorney can also seek alternatives to jail or prison time. For some crimes, diversion programs are available. Diversion often allows you to avoid conviction for a crime if you meet certain specified conditions, such as taking classes, doing community service, and being on probation for a certain amount of time. Once those conditions are met, your charge may be dismissed altogether.
Communicating With Your Defense Attorney
Be truthful and provide complete details to your defense attorney. This will allow that person to better understand what happened and pursue the best options available to resolve your situation on the best terms possible. Remember, anything you reveal or say to your attorney remains protected under attorney-client privilege. It cannot be revealed without your consent.
Turn to Walker Law LLC for Help
Facing a criminal charge is not a DIY proposition. As Abe Lincoln said, “He who has himself as a client has a fool as an attorney.” If you’re facing an investigation or criminal charge in or around Chesterfield, Missouri, reach out to me immediately. Let’s get going on exercising your rights and protecting your future to the greatest extent possible.