Do You Need a Lawyer to Plead Guilty?

By Christopher Coble, Esq. on September 03, 2015 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

Let's say, hypothetically of course, that you did it. Or, at least, that you're willing to say you did it in order to lessen your possible punishment. Do you still need a lawyer if you're not going to fight a criminal charge?

As it turns out, there are quite a few things a criminal defense lawyer can do that you can't, so you may want to have an attorney on your side when you plead guilty.

Protect Your Rights

Pleading guilty does not mean relinquishing all of your rights as a defendant. You have a constitutional right to an attorney any time you've been charged with any crime, and a criminal defense attorney can protect other rights as well.

Additionally, an attorney may spots holes or weakness in the prosecution's case that help reduce your sentence, if not get charges dismissed entirely. For instance, if there is an issue with how the evidence against you was obtained or used, it may be excluded from trial; and if prosecutors know that evidence will be excluded, they may not have a case.

Negotiate Your Deal

Even if you're pleading guilty, there is still a plea bargain that can take place. In any guilty plea, it may be possible to change the crime you admit to and the possible punishment. In fact, it might even be possible to plead "no contest" to the charge, which is different from pleading guilty and could have ramifications on your criminal punishment and possible civil cases.

A criminal defense attorney should have experience negotiating plea agreements, and is likely to get you a better deal than if you try to negotiate with prosecutors yourself. Withdrawing a guilty plea is difficult, if not impossible, so make sure you have an attorney review the plea agreement before accepting it.

If you've been charged with a crime, even if you plan to plead guilty, you should talk to an experienced criminal defense attorney today.

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