If you’re facing criminal drug charges, whether it’s a misdemeanor or felony, you need an attorney to defend you. On the surface, you might think it doesn’t matter because you’re obviously guilty and there’s nothing you can do to get off the hook.
While this makes sense in a logical way, that’s not how the court system works. If you don’t get a lawyer, you’re making a big mistake, and here’s why.
1. Even if you’re found guilty, a lawyer can reduce your sentence
Imagine going to court and facing either a judge or a jury, and you’re found guilty. If you don’t have an attorney to fight for you, it’s possible and even likely that you will end up with a harsh sentence, potentially even close to the maximum allowed by law.
For instance, say you live in Nashville, TN and your charges involve Schedule III drugs. That’s a Class D felony, which is punishable by 2-4 years in prison and a fine of up to $50,000. Without an attorney, there’s a chance you might end up serving time and paying a fine closer to the maximum.
On the other hand, when you have an attorney to represent you, they will fight hard to get your sentence reduced, says nashvillecriminaldefenseattorneys.com. That’s a big deal because the difference between spending 2 years and spending 4 years in prison is huge.
2. An attorney can reduce your charges
Another important reason to have an attorney represent you when facing criminal drug charges is the fact that they can possibly get your charges reduced and in some cases completely dropped. Many people are wrongfully convicted of drug charges (see here) and without an attorney, there is a much higher risk of that being the outcome for your case.
It all depends on your circumstances, but you don’t really have a chance to get reduced charges without an attorney. Successfully reducing charges requires extensive knowledge of the law as well as the ability to negotiate with judges and prosecutors and influence juries.
If you go to court and face drug charges without a lawyer, you will literally be defenseless. Your initial charges will probably stick, and that can greatly influence the outcome of your case. For example, the more serious your charges, and the higher the quantity of charges, the more consequences you’ll face in terms of your sentence. Reducing your charges can play a huge role in reducing your sentence.
3. The law is complex and confusing
Walking into a courtroom to face your charges alone is a bad idea because the law is extremely complex and confusing. Attorneys spend a lot of time going to law school just to understand the law in the first place. Handling cases and arguing for their points to defend clients is an entirely different skill that has to be developed over time. On top of that, there are specific procedures you must follow or you’ll hold things up and annoy the judge.
You do have a right to defend yourself, but that comes with being held to the same standards as professional attorneys. You’ll be expected to follow the rules, file your paperwork properly, and you will be held to the same standards as a lawyer. There won’t be any exceptions made if you fail to follow the rules of the court.
For example, you can’t just present evidence without going through the formalities beforehand. Also, some things you might think count as evidence can’t be admitted, and if you’re basing your whole argument on these things, you’ll be devastated when they are rejected.
4. Most pro se litigants lose
It’s a harsh truth to face, but most people who try to defend themselves against criminal charges end up losing their case. This happens for a variety of reasons, including being overly confident and ignorant of the law.
It’s never a good idea to face your charges alone (source). An attorney will know the best way to approach your case to help you get the most favorable outcome possible, given your circumstances.
Facing criminal drug charges? Hire an attorney fast
For the best chance at fighting your charges and getting a reduced sentence, contact an attorney right away. It’s not worth risking your future to find out the hard way how you’ll do on your own.