Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Why you should consult with an attorney on even a minor charge - Understanding the charge

I have found that many people do not fully understand the benefits of simply consulting with an attorney.  This post is directed at people who have been charged with misdemeanors.  When you are charged with a misdemeanor, a few things could happen: first, you could be facing jail time and found to be indigent, in which case the court will likely appoint you an attorney; second, you could be facing jail time but the court has not found you indigent; third, you could be facing jail time but the Commonwealth Attorney waives any possibility of jail time; and finally, the charge may be so minor that there is no possibility of jail time.  The latter three scenarios means the court does not appoint you a lawyer and you have to decide whether or not you will proceed pro se (without an attorney) or retain an attorney on your own.

Consulting with an attorney does not mean you have to retain that lawyer to represent you.  It simply can mean you meet with an attorney to decide whether or not you are capable of representing yourself or whether you should be represented by an attorney.  The next few blog posts will discuss why it is important that you consult with an attorney regarding these charges.

DUI, DUI 2nd, Refusal, Trespass, Assault, Contributing to the delinquency of a minor, reckless driving, driving on a suspended license.  These are just a few of the misdemeanor charges in Virginia.  While they many appear straight forward based on the name of the charge, there are a ton of intricacies within these charges.  Attorneys are trained to know these intricacies and/or be able to research and understand these intricacies to ensure that the legal system is working properly.  It is important to understand each element of the charge, as well as each possible defense, to determine whether or not you are guilty of the charge.  The first step to defending your rights after being charged with a misdemeanor is to fully understand the charge.

Consulting with an attorney will not only help YOU understand the charge, but, if you decide to retain that attorney, will provide you with someone who fully understands the charge and all of its intricacies.