Published in Criminal Law on September 24, 2021.
Some individuals charged with a misdemeanor do not treat their misdemeanor charges as seriously as they should. As a result, individuals who were charged with misdemeanors occasionally try and defend themselves in court.
This is not something our team at Eskew Law, LLC would recommend doing. Our Indiana criminal law attorneys understand the consequences of failing to treat a misdemeanor with the proper gravity.
If you became charged with a misdemeanor, do not try and attempt to fight the charges on your own. Let an experienced attorney defend your legal rights by presenting a sound, evidence-backed case. In doing so, you may be able to lower the charges, negotiate a better resolution on your behalf, or potentially have the charges dropped altogether.
The Right to Self-Representation
The Sixth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution implicitly states that defendants have the right to legal counsel in criminal cases. It is important to note that our forefathers felt that such a right was so crucial that it must be included in the constitution.
That said, in the same amendment, the authors of the constitution also included a clause guaranteeing citizens’ right to self-representation. In the same clause, the constitution stipulates that the defendant “must adopt [the right] knowingly and intelligently.” The judge can use his or her discretion to deny the authority to exercise the right, not only to prevent the defendant from committing what is basically self-incrimination, but also from preventing the court procedures from becoming disruptive.
If you want to represent yourself in your misdemeanor case, you would need to request permission of the court.
After submitting your request, the judge would likely discuss and go over an advisement and waiver of rights form with you to ensure that understand the rights that you are giving up by representing yourself. At the judge’s discretion, the judge may hold a separate proceeding in which you would be required to demonstrate your knowledge and ability to take on the role of “legal counsel.” If you fail to prove to the court that you have the skills and ability to competently represent yourself in a courtroom, the court will require you to seek the help of a public defender or a private attorney.
If a public defender is assigned to your case, you do not have any say in who the court appoints. The private representation allows you to choose an attorney that is right for you.
Hire an Indiana Criminal Defense Attorney
For these reasons, it would be in your best interest to hire a private criminal defense attorney as soon as you learn of the charges.
By hiring an attorney first thing, you can spend less time on the procedures of self-representation and more time on helping your attorney build a viable defense.
Misdemeanor charges may carry the same weight and consequences as felony charges, but that does not mean that the consequences associated with a misdemeanor conviction are inconsequential or will be easy to deal with.
Misdemeanor charges in Indiana range in severity and can result in hefty fines, jail time, and probation. If you want to know what is at stake, consider the following:
- Class C misdemeanor charges are the least severe criminal charges one can get in Indiana. A conviction is punishable by 0 to 60 days in jail and a maximum fine of $500 (Indiana Code 35-50-3-4).
- Class B misdemeanor convictions are punishable by 0 to 180 days in jail and a maximum fine of $1,000 (Indiana Code 35-50-3-3).
- Class A misdemeanor charges are the most serious of misdemeanor charges in Indiana. A conviction is punishable by up to one year in jail and a maximum fine of $5,000 (Indiana Code 35-50-3-2).
In addition to possible jail time and fines, a convicted person will suffer other life-long punishments that stem from simply having a criminal conviction on their record. An experienced Indiana attorney that you trust can make a world of difference in the outcome of your case.
A private attorney who specializes in criminal law has experience in handling cases like yours and understands what type of evidence is necessary to help your case and rebut whatever arguments the prosecutor presents.
When you hire a lawyer, you can count on him or her to dedicate time and resources to your case which will help build a viable and effective defense.
Hire an Experienced Criminal Defense Lawyer
A criminal conviction is a criminal conviction, even if it is a misdemeanor one. It can still result in jail time, fines, and a criminal record.
Though jail time and fines are what defendants fear the most, it is the criminal record that can have the most impact on one’s life. A criminal record can make it difficult for an individual to get a good-paying job, apply for loans, or secure housing, and a conviction will always show up on a background check, even if it is a misdemeanor one.
If you want to fight the life-long consequences of a conviction, retain the help of an experienced and knowledgeable criminal defense attorney.
Contact our Indiana Criminal Defense Lawyers
Our Indiana criminal defense lawyers at Eskew Law, LLC are equipped to handle a range of criminal cases.
Whether you became charged with a misdemeanor crime or a felony crime, we can build a strong defense on your behalf and do what is necessary to reduce the charges against you, negotiate a better resolution on your behalf, or potentially have the charges dropped entirely.
Do not take a chance on your future by trying to defend yourself in court; instead, hire a skilled attorney who understands the law and how to use it to defendants’ advantage. Call Eskew Law, LLC to speak with a lawyer today.