While it may be tempting for a person to defend his or herself, self-representation can have severe drawbacks. Though law books contain a great deal of information, there is a lot to be gained from the actual time spent defending people in various cases and situations. Building a solid criminal defense comes from a comprehensive understanding of the written law, as well as the realities and actualities of the Illinois criminal justice system. The actual practice of criminal law can be quite very different than the knowledge offered in books.
When it comes to do you need a criminal defense lawyer in Illinois, a very good reason can be found by examining the power of a prosecutor. Their role determines much of what happens in a criminal case. Though from an average person’s view, there may only be one criminal act involved in a case, a prosecutor can charge a defendant with several crimes stemming from one act. The reasons for multiple charges ranging in severity can vary based on the merits of the case. The defense for a set of charges can become far more complicated and confusing to the uninitiated.
Whether you’re facing a felony or even a misdemeanor, having an experienced defense lawyer, like the ones we have at O’Dekirk, Allred, and Associates in Joliet, can be an immense asset when it comes to facing harsh punishments like prison.
Novice v. Experience
Prosecutors have honed their legal abilities over time, both in and out of the courtroom. A prosecutor is not generally going to make things easy for a pro se defendant. Prosecutors will take full advantage of a novice in the courtroom because they want to win their cases regardless of who is performing the defense. They will use procedures and courtroom technicalities to trip up pro se defendants.
Prosecutors also have a great deal of experience with various defense strategies, and they are well aware of how to effectively deal with any strategy a novice will use in the courtroom. Pro se defendants will generally be outmatched in courtroom experience, which can be not only detrimental but also costly in terms of outcomes. If you’re wondering do you need a criminal defense lawyer in Illinois, just think about facing an experienced and winning prosecutor in the courtroom.
The Power of Elections
Prosecutors and judges are elected officials whose records become the target of opponents in every election. The politics of these positions can play a huge role in how things play out in the courtroom. Prosecutors and judges are expected to be tough on crimes such as drug offenses and DUI cases. It is naïve to think that such pressures will not have an impact on how cases will be tried and prosecuted.
A lawyer who is knowledgeable of the local political scene will be able to better navigate the system to the benefit of the defendant. Someone who is self-representing will rarely have any level of knowledge of the role of politics in the particulars of their case.
How Will an Attorney Help?
No matter how well educated or smart a person is, when deciding do you need a criminal defense lawyer in Illinois, remember that the criminal justice system is much too complicated for even the smartest among us to effectively represent ourselves. Additionally, defense lawyers:
Have time to dedicate to the case because it is their job. Pro se defendants may have jobs of their own or responsibilities that limit the amount of time they can spend on their own defense.
Negotiate with prosecutors, often achieving lesser charges and reduced sentences. Often defense lawyers have a working relationship with the prosecutor, which allows for more savvy negotiations, something a self-representative would not have, making successful negotiation less likely.
Are familiar with local procedures, customs, and preferences. For example, your defense lawyer may know that your prosecutor doesn’t have the real authority to settle your case. Your defense lawyer may also be able to make arguments that they know are likely to appeal to the judge or prosecution.
Interview witnesses for the prosecution. The defendant may have trouble getting witnesses to share information. Witnesses may be fearful or angry and uncooperative with the defendant but cooperate fully and helpfully with a criminal defense lawyer.
Understand the true cost of pleading guilty. They know consequences that may or may not occur to the defendant or the defendant’s friends and family.
Hire investigators that can be effectively used during the trial. An investigator can sometimes be used to offer contradicting information for witnesses who may embellish their courtroom stories. This can be much more effective in court than a pro se defendant saying, “the witness had a different version of events the last time we spoke.”
When deciding to do you need a criminal defense lawyer in Illinois, remember that as a defendant, you’re going to have a personal stake in all the courtroom proceedings. This high level of personal and emotional investment can sometimes cloud your judgment. Having an impartial and professional criminal defense lawyer can help keep the strategies and responses clear and effective, something that cannot always be achieved in pro se defenses.
After the Trial
If your defense attorney fails to properly defend you, this can be used to appeal your case or have a conviction reversed. People who choose to self-represent cannot use this argument. Though they may have made mistakes in their defense, the law does not allow them to use their own poor performance as a reason to re-examine the case.
Do you need a criminal defense lawyer in Illinois? Ultimately, the short answer is yes. We at O’Dekirk, Allred, and Associates in Joliet can help if you or someone you know needs a defense lawyer. We have experience with criminal trials and can get you the level of defense you need and deserve.
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