Criminal Defense FAQs
When you’ve been charged with a crime, it’s natural to have a lot of questions about what’s going to happen to you and how the process will work. This page aims to answer some of the most frequently asked questions about Michigan criminal defense.
Do I need a lawyer when the police are investigating me?
Some people worry that if they “lawyer up” during a police investigation that police will assume they’re guilty. However, there can be many benefits to consulting or hiring a lawyer during the early phases of an investigation. A Michigan criminal defense lawyer can be with you when police question you to ensure that you don’t say something that could be misinterpreted and that sounds incriminating even though you’re innocent. A lawyer also may be able to talk to prosecutors before they file charges and convince them not to charge you if the evidence is weak or other circumstances exist that would make the prosecution unlikely to succeed if they take the case to trial.
How do I avoid going to jail or prison?
Whether or not you will go to jail is a complicated question. It depends on the nature of your current charge, whether you have prior charges, and whether there are circumstances that might convince a prosecutor or judge that you deserve leniency. For example, if you’re charged with drug use and have a drug addiction, an order for substance abuse treatment might be more appropriate than a jail sentence.
Of course, the best way to avoid going to jail or prison is to be acquitted or to have the charges dropped — and the best way to accomplish that is through a strong defense strategy crafted by a skilled Michigan criminal defense lawyer.
Why shouldn’t I just represent myself?
Under the U.S. Constitution, you have the right to represent yourself if you so choose. However, that’s rarely a good idea even if you have a law degree yourself. A Detroit criminal defense lawyer can look at your case, the evidence, and the testimony with an objective eye and evaluate your options. You may be too emotionally connected to the charges to clearly see your best options, but a lawyer can help you figure out the right path and the right defense strategy. Additionally, a criminal defense lawyer has a detailed knowledge of the law and an inside knowledge of the courts that may be beneficial in getting you the best possible result.
The court is offering me a public defender. Why should I pay for a lawyer?
Public defenders are valiant public servants who do their best for people who can’t afford to pay for an attorney. However, they’re often overwhelmed by the sheer number of people in the system who need representation, and often aren’t in a position to give your case the kind of individual attention that it needs. It may seem like a hardship to pay for a lawyer, but that may be your best option to avoid the greater hardship of a jail sentence or the other consequences of a criminal conviction.
What are the effects of a criminal record?
A criminal record can negatively affect your life in many ways.
- Your conviction likely will show up in a background check when you apply for a job, and your application may be turned down because employers don’t want to take a risk on someone with a criminal history.
- You may lose your current job when your employers learn that you have a conviction, or when you have to take time off to serve a jail sentence.
- You may be denied rental housing by landlords who don’t want to take the risk of renting to someone with a criminal history.
- If your charge was a drug offense, you may lose eligibility for federal financial aid such as student loans or grants to pay for classes and may be unable to finish your degree and work in your career of choice.
- Depending on the nature of your conviction, a criminal record may affect your custody or visitation rights to your children.
- If you’re not an American citizen, a criminal record can result in the government denying your application for an immigration visa, green card, or citizenship. You may be deported.