Do I have to plead not guilty to misdemeanor battery? 16 Answers as of January 02, 2013

Roommate and I got in fight. Nothing major but she got a tiny scratch on her face. Because of this Cop told me they had to label her the "victim" and me as the aggressor. Her boyfriend and her friends sided with her, of course, so I technically have three witnesses against me in the police report. I have not received a citation for court yet, but I foresee it. I am only 18, and I made a mistake in even getting in a fight (it was mutual), I admit it. I'm scared of pleading guilty because I am very involved in the community and this will harm my reputation. Roommate was going to drop all charges, but her parents showed up and demanded that she did not. Someone told me to wait because the prosecutor might just dismiss the case... someone else told me to file suit against her in civil court... I cannot afford a lawyer so I'm doing all this pro se. Any input is appreciated.

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Andersen Law PLLC
Andersen Law PLLC | Craig Andersen
She cannot "drop" charges. You will be entitled to a public defender. You may be offered diversion. You may assert self defense depending on the facts of the case. It is unlikely the prosecutor will simply dismiss the case outright.
Answer Applies to: Washington
Replied: 1/2/2013
Hamblin Law Office | Sally Hamblin
You do not have to plead guilty. If it was mutual argument/fight then that is your focus. You have right to a trial. Do not talk to anyone about the case or your role in it. Are her parents upset with you? It is up to the victim whether she wants to try and drop charges. Talk to legal aid in your area.
Answer Applies to: Michigan
Replied: 12/21/2012
Natty Shafer Law
Natty Shafer Law | Nathaniel Shafer
If you don't want this on your record, then yes, you should plead not guilty and fight the charges. Also, if the prosecutor does not dismiss the charges, ask the judge if you are eligible for a public defender. Depending on your income, you may be eligible for appointed counsel, which will make your chances of victory better.
Answer Applies to: Utah
Replied: 12/19/2012
Universal Law Group, Inc. | Francis John Cowhig
There is an old saying that "A person who represents himself, has a fool for a client". You are facing very serious charges which can result in up to 1 year in jail. I strongly suggest that you contact an experienced criminal defense attorney for a face-to-face consultation and give him/her all of the facts surrounding your case. He/she would then be in a better position to analyze your case and advise you of your options. If you cannot afford an attorney, then ask the judge to appoint a public defender to represent you. Under no circumstances should you be representing yourself.
Answer Applies to: California
Replied: 12/19/2012
Michael Breczinski
Michael Breczinski | Michael Breczinski
First if you can't afford an attorney then you should be able to get a court appointed one. Second never plead guilty up front. You lose all bargaining power. A deal might be worked out where you end up with no record.
Answer Applies to: Michigan
Replied: 12/18/2012
    William L. Welch, III Attorney | William L. Welch, III
    Unless you are familiar with the criminal law, criminal procedure, rules of evidence, the prosecutor, and the judge, then you should consider applying to the office of the public defender for an appointed lawyer.
    Answer Applies to: Maryland
    Replied: 12/18/2012
    Law Office of Eric Sterkenburg
    Law Office of Eric Sterkenburg | Eric Sterkenburg
    Your first court date will be your arrangement. At that time, you should plead not guilty. At that hearing or the next, the DA will give you an offer to change your plea to guilty. If the offer is something you can live with you can change your plea. If you cannot live with the result then continue the case. Before you get to the trial stage, get all your evidence and witness together. If you present a strong case to the DA, they will reduce the charges or dismiss the case.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 12/18/2012
    Patrick Earl Attorney
    Patrick Earl Attorney | Patrick Owen Earl
    You need to either hire an attorney or apply for one court appointed. Don't take this lightly. Get an attorney for sure.
    Answer Applies to: Washington
    Replied: 12/18/2012
    Lawrence Lewis
    Lawrence Lewis | Lawrence Lewis, PC
    So, you are very involved in the community, but do not know one attorney, nor one knowledgeable person that should tell you that you are not an attorney. Then you want to simultaneously file a civil law suit and defend your criminal action.
    Answer Applies to: Georgia
    Replied: 12/18/2012
    Gates' Law, PLLC | Thomas E. Gates
    You have no civil case. Because there was visible signs on your roommate's face, the prosecutor does not need to have her or the other two witnesses to testify, e.g., all he has to do is show a picture of the injury. Because she is living with you, you likely will be charged with Assault 4, Domestic Violence (DV). Assault 4 has a low bar to proved. It is any offensive toughing. Try to work a plea that will drop the charge once you have completed the terms of the sentence.
    Answer Applies to: Washington
    Replied: 12/18/2012
    Gary Moore, Attorney at Law
    Gary Moore, Attorney at Law | Gary Moore
    "Might" dismiss the charge. You should hire the person who gave you advice, if you want to look like a complete idiot.
    Answer Applies to: New Jersey
    Replied: 12/18/2012
    Musilli Brennan Associates PLLC
    Musilli Brennan Associates PLLC | John F Brennan
    Do not speak about this matter with anyone else, especially the police or prosecution until after you have conferred with attorney. Start saving your money and if you are charged hire an attorney to defend yourself.
    Answer Applies to: Michigan
    Replied: 12/18/2012
    Mary W Craig P.C. | Mary W Craig
    The DA may well decide not to file charges if he or she thinks this was minor and doesn't really believe the witnesses. On the other hand, you may be defending yourself in court. If charges are filed, ask for a court-appointed lawyer if you cannot afford to hire one. As far as filing suit in civil court why are you going to punch the bear? Leave it alone. Nothing good will come of it.
    Answer Applies to: Alabama
    Replied: 12/18/2012
    Law Office of Jeff Yeh
    Law Office of Jeff Yeh | Jeff Yeh
    You better cough up all the money you can gather and hire a lawyer, otherwise you will get a criminal record and be put on probation. These types of cases often involve a lot of he said she said, and they're hard to prove. But not if you show up to court by yourself and get duped into doing the first thing offered to you!
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 12/18/2012
    Rothstein Law PLLC
    Rothstein Law PLLC | Eric Rothstein
    If you are indigent the Court will appoint you a lawyer. You should not just plead guilty. Let your lawyer work. Most likely a good criminal defense lawyer can work something out that will not leave you with a criminal record. Assuming you have no priors, at worst you are eligible for Youthful Offender treatment so you will not have a criminal record.
    Answer Applies to: New York
    Replied: 12/18/2012
    Grantland, Blodgett, Shaw & Abel
    Grantland, Blodgett, Shaw & Abel | Gregory M. Abel
    YES! plead NOT GUILTY. Your lawyer can do the rest from there.
    Answer Applies to: Oregon
    Replied: 12/18/2012
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