Do I need an attorney if I plan to plead guilty? 56 Answers as of May 30, 2013

Do I need an attorney if I plan to plead guilty? If I am pleading guilty, will I still need legal counsel?

Ask a Local Attorney. 100% Anonymous. Free Answers.

Free Case Evaluation by a Local Lawyer: Click here
Cornish, Crowley, Rockafellow, & Sartz, PLLC
Cornish, Crowley, Rockafellow, & Sartz, PLLC | Jacob Peter Sartz IV
If you need specific legal advice for your particular circumstances, I encourage you to privately consult with a lawyer. If you are charged with an offense and cannot afford to pay for your own defense, the court may appoint you an attorney payable at the public's expense. You have a right to counsel. Yes, I would recommend it, to make sure you fully understand the potential consequences of pleading guilty. Further, there may be grounds to pursue other options besides just pleading guilty.
Answer Applies to: Michigan
Replied: 7/23/2012
Craig W. Elhart, P.C.
Craig W. Elhart, P.C. | Craig Elhart
You have the right to represent yourself. However, it may not be the best choice, because a criminal record will effect you forever in Michigan.
Answer Applies to: Michigan
Replied: 4/30/2012
The Woods Law Firm
The Woods Law Firm | F.W. Woods Jr.
Yes. If you have a good case, you do not have to plead guilty. If you still wish to plead guilty a lawyer can help get the case reduced.
Answer Applies to: South Carolina
Replied: 4/23/2012
The Short Law Group, P.C.
The Short Law Group, P.C. | Shawn Kollie
One should never just 'give up' on a case where the stakes are so high. An Oregon DUI has a maximum penalty of 1 year in custody and a $6,250 fine making every decision crucial. Contact a DUI Lawyer to discuss your options.
Answer Applies to: Oregon
Replied: 4/20/2012
Gregory Casale Attorney at Law
Gregory Casale Attorney at Law | Gregory Casale
You should always have legal counsel in any criminal proceeding. First, let a lawyer review your case to see if pleading guilty is the wisest thing to do. Additionally, an attorney can usually get you a better disposition that you can get on your own. This is typically because a lawyer knows what is possible and may be able to be creative in the disposition as opposed to simply admitting your guilt and hope for the best.
Answer Applies to: Massachusetts
Replied: 4/11/2012
    Robert Mortland
    Robert Mortland | Law Office of Robert Mortland
    You may want to consult an attorney but you would not need an attorney. Many times an attorney can get you a better deal than if you represent yourself.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 4/10/2012
    Law Office of Gregory Crain | Gregory Crain
    No matter what your plea it is advisable to have legal counsel.
    Answer Applies to: Arkansas
    Replied: 4/10/2012
    Salladay Law Office | Lance Salladay
    You do not "need" an attorney, but it is a good idea to have one to work with the prosecutor to get the most favorable sentence possible.
    Answer Applies to: Idaho
    Replied: 4/10/2012
    Michael Maltby, Attorney at Law
    Michael Maltby, Attorney at Law | Michael Maltby
    I would not plan to plead guilty without getting an attorney first. It may be that is a very bad idea to plead guilty. You should have an attorney at sentencing so the best course is to get an attorney on board early. The average person is simply not equipped to do this alone. There are too many issues that need to be carefully considered before one pleads guilty as charged. That is the last thing you want to do. Even if you think you are guilty, that is not the issue. You want to protect yourself and minimize any damage now and in the future.
    Answer Applies to: Washington
    Replied: 4/10/2012
    Freeborn Law Offices, P.S.
    Freeborn Law Offices, P.S. | Steve Freeborn
    A DUI conviction carries with it some very serious penalties: jail time, loss of license, alcohol treatment, large fines, increase in insurance premiums. Not having see the police reports, I cannot say whether it is wise for you to plead. While you do not necessarily need an attorney, I would STRONGLY advise you to consult with one before doing so.
    Answer Applies to: Washington
    Replied: 4/10/2012
    The Jordan Law Firm
    The Jordan Law Firm | John Paul Jordan
    You do not need an attorney, but it would not hurt to have one there to negotiate the terms of your sentence. Also an attorney can get your sentence lowered.
    Answer Applies to: Oklahoma
    Replied: 4/9/2012
    Law Office of Phillip Weiser
    Law Office of Phillip Weiser | Phillip L. Weiser
    If you are sure of your decision, you can usually enter a plea without counsel.
    Answer Applies to: Kansas
    Replied: 4/9/2012
    LynchLaw
    LynchLaw | Michael Thomas Lynch
    You do not NEED an attorney to plead guilty, however you can still benefit from being represented even if you end up pleading guilty. The first goal of every one of my cases is dismissal. Often this is simply not possible. When a plea of some kind is necessary then the goal becomes damage control. Just because you are pleading guilty does not mean you must do jail time. Work with an attorney and review your options.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 4/9/2012
    Glass Defense Firm
    Glass Defense Firm | Jason M. Glass
    Not necessarily, but sometimes an experienced attorney can get a better deal worked out for you.
    Answer Applies to: West Virginia
    Replied: 4/9/2012
    Law Office of Brendan M. Kelly
    Law Office of Brendan M. Kelly | Brendan M. Kelly
    You can always represent yourself in court, but the best way to handle a ticket is to hire a qualified attorney.
    Answer Applies to: Nebraska
    Replied: 4/9/2012
    Law Office of Michael R. Garber
    Law Office of Michael R. Garber | Michael R. Garber
    No.
    Answer Applies to: Louisiana
    Replied: 5/30/2013
    LT Pepper Law
    LT Pepper Law | Luke T. Pepper
    You still need an attorney especially if there is serious charges. By pleading guilty you are subjecting yourself to punishment and perhaps could plead guilty to a lesser charge with the help of lawyer and thus be subject to a less severe punishment.
    Answer Applies to: Pennsylvania
    Replied: 4/9/2012
    The Law Office of B. Elaine Jones
    The Law Office of B. Elaine Jones | B. Elaine Jones
    Even if you plan on pleading guilty, an attorney can probably get you a better deal.
    Answer Applies to: Florida
    Replied: 4/9/2012
    Nelson & Lawless
    Nelson & Lawless | Terry Nelson
    Not if you intend to just plead and accept whatever penalties the judge imposes on you in sentencing. You are always entitled to represent yourself in court. Whether you should is a different issue. The conventional wisdom is that an attorney will be able to do a better job and get a better outcome. Prosecutors and judges don't like dealing with ProPers, unless you are simply pleading guilty, not defending the case.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 4/9/2012
    Furlong & Drewniak PLLC
    Furlong & Drewniak PLLC | Thaddeus Furlong, Esq.
    Depends on if a lawyer could negotiate a better result in plea negotiations. An experienced DUI lawyer may be able to use arguments about problems with the field tests, breath machine, legal requirements or other issues to negotiate a better deal for you than you could on your own. Not always, but usually a layman does not know what tactics work best in different courts or with different prosecutors. Sometimes a lawyer can obtain a superior result in a plea situation that reduces the BAC, or lowers or avoids active jail time, or lowers the fine, or gets you a restricted licenses and more. Just like a doctor is better than no doctor, having a lawyer on your side is usually better than no lawyer.
    Answer Applies to: Virginia
    Replied: 4/9/2012
    Law Office of Jared Altman
    Law Office of Jared Altman | Jared Altman
    You really need a lawyer in my opinion. You can't successfully represent yourself.
    Answer Applies to: New York
    Replied: 4/9/2012
    Law Office of Brian K. Wanerman
    Law Office of Brian K. Wanerman | Brian K. Wanerman
    You should definitely consult an attorney who can advise you about the advantages and drawbacks of pleading guilty and can assess the strengths and weaknesses of your case in order to advise you whether or not you should do this. To accept a plea, you have to give up your constitutional rights to trial and all its attendant rights, representation by counsel, and the right to remain silent. Do you really want to give those up without talking to an attorney first? If you can't afford to hire one, you can request the services of the public defender. You can do this at your arraignment hearing. You can plead not guilty if you need more time to think about it. You can easily change your plea of you decide to plead guilty after consulting with your attorney. It's a lot harder to withdraw your plea once you have plead guilty.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 4/9/2012
    Thomas J. Tomko Attorney At law
    Thomas J. Tomko Attorney At law | Thomas J. Tomko
    Should you proceed without an attorney, you will not know whether you could have gotten something better than the plea offered, the ramifications of the plea, and what other options you may have. If these things are not of importance to you, then you do not need an attorney.
    Answer Applies to: Michigan
    Replied: 4/9/2012
    Law Office of Eric Sterkenburg
    Law Office of Eric Sterkenburg | Eric Sterkenburg
    If you are pleading guilty to a charge it depends on what the charge is as to whether you need an attorney or not. If it is a serious charge you would need an attorney to bargain with the prosecution to get you the best deal.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 4/9/2012
    Goolsby Law Office
    Goolsby Law Office | Richard Goolsby
    Yes, we generally recommend that every defendant should have legal representation, not only for a potential trial, but also to help prepare for sentencing, among other reasons. Please see a lawyer ASAP. Good luck.
    Answer Applies to: Georgia
    Replied: 4/9/2012
    Hammerschmidt Broughton Law
    Hammerschmidt Broughton Law | Mark A. Broughton
    A DUI carries significant penalties from jail to loss of you driving privileges. There are many ways to defend a DUI, and ways to lessen these consequences that only a lawyer can handle. Yes, you should consult with a criminal defense attorney before deciding to enter a plea.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 4/9/2012
    Law Office of Richard Williams
    Law Office of Richard Williams | Richard Williams
    If you plan to plead guilty without knowing your rights, whether you have a defense or a possible other favorable outcome that an attorney may achieve, and not being concerned as to what punishment the Court may impose or the ramifications of such punishment, don't hire an attorney. You also have a right to perform your own dental surgery.
    Answer Applies to: Alabama
    Replied: 4/9/2012
    Larry K. Dunn & Associates | Larry K. Dunn
    Having an attorney is like having an insurance policy. Not only will the attorney review the evidence to insure pleading guilty is the best thing to do but also take steps to put you in the best position to receive the minimum penalty. Since a misdemeanor dui conviction carries penalties 'up to' 6 months in jail and $1,000 fine, it is considered a very serious offense which should be handled by an experienced attorney.
    Answer Applies to: Nevada
    Replied: 4/9/2012
    Law & Mediation Office of Jeffrey L. Pollock, Esq.
    Law & Mediation Office of Jeffrey L. Pollock, Esq. | Jeffrey Lawrence Pollock
    It would be helpful to limit the amount of punishment you are ordered.
    Answer Applies to: Pennsylvania
    Replied: 4/9/2012
    Law Offices of Brian J. Lockwood
    Law Offices of Brian J. Lockwood | Brian J. Lockwoood
    Whether or not you plan to plead guilty, consulting with an attorney first is a good idea. There may be a problem with your case that a trained attorney can spot, but which would be improbable for a lay person to spot. Most of us offer a free initial consultation, so it pays to at least talk to an attorney before your finalize your plan to plead guilty.
    Answer Applies to: Alabama
    Replied: 4/9/2012
    Law Offices of John Carney
    Law Offices of John Carney | John Carney
    You should retain a good criminal attorney if you are charged with any crime. You will not know what a good plea is or whether the prosecutor can prove that you are guilty. A criminal record will make it very hard for you to get a good job and cannot be removed from the computer. Some people are too cheap to go to a lawyer or a doctor and usually it ends up costing them much more and the consequences can be a lot worse than just losing money. If you are indigent (and here I assume you have a DWI and may be eligible) the court will appoint a lawyer to represent you. It is not as good as having an experienced private attorney but it is better than handling the case pro se, which the judge will advise you is a bad idea. Next time just call a taxi...but you will have to pay for that too.
    Answer Applies to: New York
    Replied: 4/9/2012
    Law Office of Richard Southard
    Law Office of Richard Southard | Richard C Southard
    Pleading guilty may not always be the best result that you can achieve in a case. You should always have a skilled attorney to evaluate the evidence against you and to help explain to you what your options are. Pleading guilty to a crime in New York results in a permanent criminal record that cannot be erased or expunged.
    Answer Applies to: New York
    Replied: 4/9/2012
    Dunnings Law Firm
    Dunnings Law Firm | Steven Dunnings
    Yes.
    Answer Applies to: Michigan
    Replied: 5/30/2013
    Cody W. Gibson, Attorney at Law, PLLC
    Cody W. Gibson, Attorney at Law, PLLC | Cody W. Gibson
    Yes. Having an attorney is especially important when you think or plan to plead guilty because an attorney can advise you of your legal rights and make sure that you are making the right decision, and making sure you did not overlook anything that could result in dismissal or a not guilty ruling in your favor.
    Answer Applies to: Mississippi
    Replied: 4/9/2012
    Law Offices of Stephanie Lee Ehrbright, Esq.
    Law Offices of Stephanie Lee Ehrbright, Esq. | Stephanie Lee Ehrbright
    You should make sure you are getting a good plea offer if you are going to plead guilty. You don't HAVE to have an attorney but it would be advised to make sure you aren't getting a harsher sentence than you could.
    Answer Applies to: Arizona
    Replied: 4/9/2012
    T.K. Byrne | Timothy K. Byrne
    Yes.
    Answer Applies to: Mississippi
    Replied: 5/30/2013
    Cynthia Henley, Lawyer
    Cynthia Henley, Lawyer | Cynthia Henley
    Depends on the charge and what outcome you wish to achieve. If it is a class B or above and if you want probation, you absolutely need a lawyer.
    Answer Applies to: Texas
    Replied: 4/9/2012
    Ellman and Ellman PC
    Ellman and Ellman PC | Kevin Ellmann
    Not necessarily, but pleading guilty might not be the best idea. Your case might have potential legal defenses that an experienced DUI defense attorney can help identify. The burden is on the State to prove your guilt beyond a reasonable doubt - don't make that task easy for them by rolling over. At least seek a free consultation with an attorney.
    Answer Applies to: Colorado
    Replied: 4/9/2012
    Law Office of Edward J. Blum
    Law Office of Edward J. Blum | Edward J. Blum
    No. If you want to give up you don't. BUT.... If you don't have a lawyer review your case and you have a case that can be fought and won/reduced you won't know and next time you may NOT have a case that you can beat. You can call a DUI Lawyer and have him review the facts of your case to see if it's a situation where it makes sense to fight.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 4/9/2012
    Raiser & Kenniff, PC
    Raiser & Kenniff, PC | Steve Raiser
    You should still have counsel to ensure you are not sentenced too harshly.
    Answer Applies to: New York
    Replied: 4/9/2012
    Law Offices of Eric J. Bell | Eric J. Bell
    You are charged with a class a misdemeanor where you can be sentenced up to 1 year in jail. You should hire an experienced dui lawyer to make sure your rights are protected.
    Answer Applies to: Illinois
    Replied: 4/9/2012
    Gutin and Wolverton
    Gutin and Wolverton | Harley Gutin
    Maybe. If you want to make sure your getting the best plea deal you can.
    Answer Applies to: Florida
    Replied: 4/9/2012
    Timothy J. Thill P.C.
    Timothy J. Thill P.C. | Timothy J. Thill
    You can plead guilty withour counsel, it is a free country, at least the last time I looked.? If a minor mover, go ahead and plea guilty, but if the case involves possible jail time, I would strongly advise you to retain counsel, as you well could end up in the gray bar hotel, if you know what I mean. If you cannot afford counsel, ask the court to appoint a public defender for you.
    Answer Applies to: Illinois
    Replied: 4/9/2012
    The Law Office of Kevin O'Grady
    The Law Office of Kevin O'Grady | Kevin O'Grady
    It does not hurt to hire an attorney to plead guilty, but what you really need is to hire an attorney that will give you all the options, including fighting the charge. I do not take DUI clients who want to plead guilty. I only fight DUI charges. will not be valid.
    Answer Applies to: Hawaii
    Replied: 4/9/2012
    Klisz Law Office, PLLC
    Klisz Law Office, PLLC | Timothy J. Klisz
    Do you value your freedom? An attorney can be the difference between jail or not, in some cases. It is an investment.
    Answer Applies to: Michigan
    Replied: 4/9/2012
    Michael Breczinski
    Michael Breczinski | Michael Breczinski
    Why would anyone? WANT to plead guilty right off the bat? That does not give you any deals and if you get an attorney (or fight it yourself if you know what you are doing) you can almost always get some kind of deal. That is like buying a horse for the first price the seller asks, It is stupid. And if you thought about doing that, then do NOT represent yourself you do not know what you are doing!
    Answer Applies to: Michigan
    Replied: 4/9/2012
    Anderson Law Office
    Anderson Law Office | Scott L. Anderson
    It depends on what your situation is. Even with a guilty plea a good attorney will be able to work out a better resolution in a number of different aspects of the case.
    Answer Applies to: Minnesota
    Replied: 4/9/2012
    Law Office of Jeff Yeh
    Law Office of Jeff Yeh | Jeff Yeh
    You probably need legal counsel to advise you on whether you should be pleading guilty in the first place.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 4/9/2012
    Lawrence Lewis
    Lawrence Lewis | Lawrence Lewis, PC
    No, but I would at least consult an attorney to find out all of the penalties associated with a guilty plea, including increased insurance rates.
    Answer Applies to: Georgia
    Replied: 4/9/2012
    The Law Offices of Harold L. Wallin | Harold L. Wallin
    Yes, you will still need an attorney, to review the discovery and ensure that you don't have a defense that you otherwise wouldn't have known about; and if you are still going to plead guilty, to negotiate or argue for the most lenient sentence.
    Answer Applies to: Illinois
    Replied: 4/9/2012
    Palumbo and Kosofsky
    Palumbo and Kosofsky | Michael Palumbo
    You never need an attorney but you should always have one
    Answer Applies to: New York
    Replied: 4/9/2012
    San Diego DUI Law Center
    San Diego DUI Law Center | Rick Mueller
    You really can't do it without a lawyer. Courts don't want people representing themselves in misdemeanor cases.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 4/9/2012
    H. Scott Basham, Attorney at Law, P.C. | H. Scott Basham
    An attorney may be able to work out a better deal than you can by yourself, but you can enter a guilty plea without a lawyer if you wish.
    Answer Applies to: Georgia
    Replied: 4/9/2012
    Fairlie & Lippy, P.C.
    Fairlie & Lippy, P.C. | Steven Fairlie
    Yes, a lawyer could tell you whether that makes sense or not and help you with the terms of sentencing.
    Answer Applies to: Pennsylvania
    Replied: 4/9/2012
Click to View More Answers:
12 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 Free Legal QuestionsConnect with a local attorney

Need more information on drunk driving law? Visit our free DUI resource page to learn more.

If you need immediate assistance, fill out a free case evaluation form to connect with a DUI lawyer in your area today!