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Do I need to hire a lawyer for my case?

posted by Daniel Bastien on: 10/04/11 in category: Representation | tags: ,

With all the resources, tips, and free advice on the internet, many people ask, “Why do I even need to hire a lawyer to handle my case?”  To those people I warn—you get what you pay for.

It is true many Maryland criminal cases are unlikely to go trial, and it is possible that a pro bono defendant can negotiate a deal with a prosecutor, but will it be a good deal?  Consider the call I recently received from a prospective client…

Police stopped a pedestrian down the road from a local bar and asked for her identification.  She presented them with a fake ID and was charged with possession of a fictitious identification, a misdemeanor with a maximum penalty of six months in jail and/or a $500 fine.

The young woman proceeded to tell me she worked out a great deal where the charges would be dropped upon her completion of a drug and alcohol treatment program, so long as she completed the program within six months.

She did not realize that the program would take six weeks to complete, cost money for each session, and interfere with her now overloaded schedule.  With one month left before her deadline, she was calling me in the hopes I could get her an extension, or work out a better deal.

I said, “If only you had called me before you worked out this ‘great deal’!”

In this instance, it was unlikely the state’s attorney would have been able to prove their case.  Beyond the issue of whether the police had probable cause to stop her (unlikely), the state needed to prove the license was indeed fraudulent and used with fraudulent intent.  This was not an easy case for the state and one, if taken to trial with a good defense attorney, may have resulted in an acquittal.

The bottom line:  if you must appear at court, it is best to appear with an attorney.  When you hire a private criminal defense attorney, he or she knows if you are getting a good deal from the state’s attorney…and whether or not you should take the ‘great deal’ in the first place.

About the Author

Daniel Bastien is an experienced criminal and civil trial attorney who has represented hundreds of clients throughout Maryland and the District of Columbia. He has been an active contributor to the legal community. He is a member of the Maryland Bar Association, Prince George’s County Bar Association, American Association for Justice, and the District of Columbia Bar Association.

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Daniel Bastien, Esq.

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