Do I need an attorney when faced with first offense? 82 Answers as of June 14, 2013

Do I need an attorney when faced with first offense? Can I just go through the process by myself?

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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. Considering that a conviction for an OUI is a misdemeanor that will stay on your record for a long time, will increase your insurance payments, force you to pay large of amounts of fines, costs, and you could even serve jail time, in certain counties, I would encourage you to either retain a lawyer or request the court appoint you one at the public's expense.
Answer Applies to: Michigan
Replied: 7/20/2012
Law office of Robert D. Scott | Robert Scott
You are always free to represent yourself in any legal proceeding. There is a saying in the profession that "one who represents him/herself in court has a fool for a client".
Answer Applies to: Maryland
Replied: 6/22/2012
Craig W. Elhart, P.C.
Craig W. Elhart, P.C. | Craig Elhart
The question of "do I need an attorney" and "am I required to have an attorney" are two very different questions. You are not "required" to have an attorney when faced with a first offense. You have the right to represent yourself. Now, if you are asking if you "need" an attorney, my answer is yes. Its never a good idea to go through any court proceedings, especially a criminal proceeding (DUI is criminal) without an attorney. Remember, traffic offenses stay on your record for the rest of your life.
Answer Applies to: Michigan
Replied: 6/12/2012
The Short Law Group, P.C.
The Short Law Group, P.C. | Shawn Kollie
Although anyone has a Constitutional right to represent themselves in any court proceeding, the stakes are very high with an Oregon DUI charge. A DUI is a Class A Misdemeanor with a maximum of 1 year in custody and a $6,250 fine. Most DUI Lawyers will provide a free consultation to sit down and see what their representation could do to help you in these stressful times.
Answer Applies to: Oregon
Replied: 6/12/2012
Pingelton Law Firm | Dan Pingelton
Sometimes if you have an attorney, your first offense won't BE your first offense. Meaning, you'll get it wiped clean. Always get a lawyer.
Answer Applies to: Missouri
Replied: 6/7/2012
    Law Office of Christopher G Humphrey PC | Christopher G Humphrey
    I would recommend an attorney help you. You usually get better results.
    Answer Applies to: Wyoming
    Replied: 6/7/2012
    Gregory Casale Attorney at Law
    Gregory Casale Attorney at Law | Gregory Casale
    Can you do it yourself? Yes. Should you do it yourself? NO. I cannot tell you how many CORI (Criminal History) sheets I have picked up and been shocked at the disposition of a previous offense and learned that the client didn't have an attorney. You should NEVER be in criminal court without counsel. It is not designed for lay people and whether you have an attorney or not, the judge is not going to give you a break or leniency because you are representing yourself. They will expect you to know the rules of evidence and the elements of charges and every other important issue that they would expect a lawyer to know. You have ONE chance to get this right, don't blow it. Hire a good lawyer.
    Answer Applies to: Massachusetts
    Replied: 6/7/2012
    Law Office of Phillip Weiser
    Law Office of Phillip Weiser | Phillip L. Weiser
    You can do this yourself if you desire. I would advise that before you decide to represent yourself, you consult with a DUI attorney to make sure you are choosing prudently.
    Answer Applies to: Kansas
    Replied: 6/6/2012
    Law Office of Ronald G. Draper | Ronald G. Draper
    Yes.
    Answer Applies to: Illinois
    Replied: 6/14/2013
    Mesiti Law | Benjamin Mesiti
    You should get an attorney for any criminal offense, especially for a DUI. There are many elements that must be proven in a DUI case, and a skilled lawyer can assist you in finding ways to obtain a favorable result. Now, if you just want to plead guilty and get it over with, then by all means, represent yourself, but that's like performing your own surgery. After all, you wouldn't take out your own tonsils, right?
    Answer Applies to: Rhode Island
    Replied: 6/5/2012
    Law Office of Michael E. Dailey
    Law Office of Michael E. Dailey | Michael E. Dailey
    Although you are not required to have a lawyer, you generally will come out a whole lot better if you do have one. Any time you face a potential jail sentence, which you are in a DUI, or loss of your driving privilege a lawyer should be with you. You will wind up paying a lot more in related consequences than the cost of a lawyer.
    Answer Applies to: Missouri
    Replied: 6/5/2012
    Edward  D. Dowling IV Attorney at Law
    Edward D. Dowling IV Attorney at Law | Edward D. Dowling IV
    You can represent yourself but i do not advise it. You usually do better with an attorney.
    Answer Applies to: New York
    Replied: 6/5/2012
    Salladay Law Office | Lance Salladay
    You can do it yourself, but you are probably better off with an attorney
    Answer Applies to: Idaho
    Replied: 6/5/2012
    Gary Moore, Attorney at Law
    Gary Moore, Attorney at Law | Gary Moore
    You are free to do whatever you want, but it would be wise to at least consult with a dui lawyer BEFORE you go to court.
    Answer Applies to: New Jersey
    Replied: 6/5/2012
    The Woods Law Firm
    The Woods Law Firm | F.W. Woods Jr.
    Yes. Whenever you have charges you need the advice and counsel of an experienced attorney.
    Answer Applies to: South Carolina
    Replied: 6/5/2012
    LEATHERS LAW FIRM
    LEATHERS LAW FIRM | A. Wade Leathers, Sr.
    I would not suggest handling a DUI by yourself. There are too many things that can go wrong. Consult an attorney immediately and I would suggest that you retain counsel to handle your DUI.
    Answer Applies to: Alabama
    Replied: 6/5/2012
    Vargas Law Office LLC | Ronnie Ismael Vargas
    It depends on the strength of the prosecution's case and whether you feel you are guilty or not. If it is something you wish to contest in Court, you'd be advised to consult6 with an attorney. If you want to simply plead guilty for whatever reason, then handle the matter yourself.
    Answer Applies to: Wisconsin
    Replied: 6/5/2012
    Law Office of Brendan M. Kelly
    Law Office of Brendan M. Kelly | Brendan M. Kelly
    You can handle it yourself, but you really need a lawyer to insure you get probation if you are convicted. The jail term on a first offense is 7 to 60 days, and a six month loss of your driver's license.
    Answer Applies to: Nebraska
    Replied: 6/5/2012
    Conway Law Pllc.
    Conway Law Pllc. | B. L. Conway
    Yes! You better get a good lawyer son. You can get up to a year with a $2500 fine and license suspension. Do not despair we have been doing this for over 20 years.
    Answer Applies to: Virginia
    Replied: 6/5/2012
    The Law Offices of Scott L. Little, LLC | Scott L Little
    You always have the right to represent yourself. However, whether its' a the first offense or tenth offense it is always prudent to have counsel represent you.
    Answer Applies to: Maryland
    Replied: 6/5/2012
    Beaulier Law Office
    Beaulier Law Office | Maury Beaulier
    You should always hire legal counsel. A conviction for a DWI lasts for a lifetime. It can affect employment and other things in ordinary life including travel to Canada. There are defenses to the charge, many of which will only become clear after discovery is provided to your lawyer. Even where defenses are weak, your attorney can often assure you of minimal penalties associated with the offense.
    Answer Applies to: Minnesota
    Replied: 6/5/2012
    Law Office of Richard Williams
    Law Office of Richard Williams | Richard Williams
    If you do not wish to contest the DUI, and you are satisfied in having a conviction for DUI, regardless of the punishment that may be imposed, you do not have to have an attorney to represent you.
    Answer Applies to: Alabama
    Replied: 6/5/2012
    Hynum Law Office, LLC
    Hynum Law Office, LLC | G. Wayne Hynum
    You can represent yourself without an attorney. However, you will probably get a better result with an attorney.
    Answer Applies to: Mississippi
    Replied: 6/5/2012
    Mark Thiessen, Attorney at Law
    Mark Thiessen, Attorney at Law | Mark Thiessen
    You absolutely need an attorney. The DA will not listen to you. You need to fight a first DWI very aggressively so you don't get caught in the system for the rest of your life.
    Answer Applies to: Texas
    Replied: 6/5/2012
    Hammerschmidt Broughton Law
    Hammerschmidt Broughton Law | Mark A. Broughton
    You can but you will be at a distinct disadvantage. The chances are good that you will not be able to get as favorable a result in a touchy case yourself as an attorney can. And There are so many things to know, so many consequences to a DUI that you are really taking a risk representing yourself.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 6/5/2012
    James M. Osak, P.C.
    James M. Osak, P.C. | James M. Osak
    YES! Never take on the system in a DUI by yourself . . . first, second or third offense.
    Answer Applies to: Michigan
    Replied: 6/5/2012
    Law Offices of Phil Hache
    Law Offices of Phil Hache | Phil Hache
    You can represent yourself, but I strongly recommend against representing yourself on a DUI or any other misdemeanor or Felony. The Judge would likely recommend against it as well. It is just not a good idea to represent yourself as DUI defense and court procedure are both complex.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 6/5/2012
    Glass Defense Firm
    Glass Defense Firm | Jason M. Glass
    Yes you need an attorney! If you go through without an attorney, chances are you will just be convicted and lose your license as well. Then if you get caught within the next 10 years you can be charged with a second offense. While an attorney may not always be able to prevent the first conviction, he may very well be able to, and you may not get that first prior on your record. Always, hire an attorney! Remember, the man who represents himself has a fool for a client!
    Answer Applies to: West Virginia
    Replied: 6/5/2012
    Law Office of Edward J. Blum
    Law Office of Edward J. Blum | Edward J. Blum
    Yes.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 6/14/2013
    Lawrence Lewis
    Lawrence Lewis | Lawrence Lewis, PC
    First offense of what shoplifting murder. It all depends.
    Answer Applies to: Georgia
    Replied: 6/14/2013
    H. Scott Basham, Attorney at Law, P.C. | H. Scott Basham
    No, you don't need to hire an attorney. But if you intend to fight the charges, it is highly advisable to do so.
    Answer Applies to: Georgia
    Replied: 6/5/2012
    Law Office of Eric Sterkenburg
    Law Office of Eric Sterkenburg | Eric Sterkenburg
    For a first offence in a DUI the court generally has a standard offer. If you are not going to fight the case and your BAC was more than 0.09 then you do not need and attorney. If you are not going to plead guilty at the arraignment or there are enhancements you need an attorney.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 6/5/2012
    Thomas J. Tomko Attorney At law
    Thomas J. Tomko Attorney At law | Thomas J. Tomko
    You can always go through the process yourself. However, this may not give you the best result. Can you get the charge reduced? What is the consequence. Will you pay $1,000 per year for 2 years in financial responsibility fees to keep your license? Will it be only $500 per year? Is there a defense? Can the charge get changed to a non-drinking offense? Your decision is much like having a tooth ache. You could diagnose the problem and treat it yourself. But, will you get unanticipated results, like a need for a root canal or having to get the tooth pulled? In many cases no, but in some cases, yes. Which is yours? I personally prefer to go the dentist when I have such a problem. In the same way, I would suggest that you see an attorney for a legal problem. I hope that this was helpful.
    Answer Applies to: Michigan
    Replied: 6/5/2012
    The Law Office of Harry E. Hudson, Jr.
    The Law Office of Harry E. Hudson, Jr. | Harry E. Hudson, Jr.
    First offense of what? Littering? you can do that. Anything that can result in you going to jail, you should at least talk to an attorney. Most offer an initial free consultation.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 6/5/2012
    Leonard A. Kaanta, P.C. | Leonard A. Kaanta
    Yes.
    Answer Applies to: Michigan
    Replied: 6/14/2013
    Dunnings Law Firm
    Dunnings Law Firm | Steven Dunnings
    A lawyer who represents himself has a fool for a client.
    Answer Applies to: Michigan
    Replied: 6/4/2012
    Bruce Plesser | Bruce Plesser
    I would not advise you do that but yes.
    Answer Applies to: Florida
    Replied: 6/4/2012
    Law Office of Jeff Yeh
    Law Office of Jeff Yeh | Jeff Yeh
    Remember the old adage: he who represents himself has a fool for a client. The fact is, it doesn't matter if it is a first, second, or third offense. Every case is unique and you should always talk to someone who knows what he/she is doing. Of course you don't need an attorney, just like you don't need a doctor when you're sick (you can always choose to get sicker right?).
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 6/4/2012
    Law Office of Michael Bialys THE DUI MAN
    Law Office of Michael Bialys THE DUI MAN | Michael Bialys
    Keep in mind your are not only dealing with the court but also the DMV. I always recommend have your own attorney.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 6/4/2012
    Law Offices of George Woodworth & Associates
    Law Offices of George Woodworth & Associates | George Woodworth
    You can if you want to just take whatever the DA wants to do to you. The DA doesn't have to help you, or try to understand your side of the case, or do anything to benefit you, or help you get a reduced charge or sentence. Why do that? If you don't have an experienced Attorney look at your case, you will never know if you had a good defense or not, or if you could have avoided jail, fines or loss of license, and other consequences (such as insurance rate increases etc.)
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 6/4/2012
    Universal Law Group, Inc. | Francis John Cowhig
    I would never suggest to anyone that they represent themselves in any court proceedings, especially in a criminal case. Defending on the facts of your case, an experienced criminal attorney may be able to have the charges reduced to a wet or dry reckless. I would suggest that you consult with an experienced criminal attorney immediately or if you cannot afford one, ask the judge to appoint an attorney for you. Good Luck.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 6/4/2012
    Palumbo and Kosofsky
    Palumbo and Kosofsky | Michael Palumbo
    Yes, you can go through this by yourself. Likewise, if you had a toothache you could grab a pair of pliers and rip that tooth right out of your head.
    Answer Applies to: New York
    Replied: 6/4/2012
    Law Firm of Martin & Wallentine
    Law Firm of Martin & Wallentine | Jerry Lee Wallentine Jr.
    Yes! You should absolutely use an attorney. No. Do not handle it on your own.
    Answer Applies to: Kansas
    Replied: 6/4/2012
    Hamblin Law Office | Sally Hamblin
    You can go through processes yourself if you so choose and court allows that.
    Answer Applies to: Michigan
    Replied: 6/4/2012
    Law Office of Jared Altman
    Law Office of Jared Altman | Jared Altman
    No. But you need a lawyer.
    Answer Applies to: New York
    Replied: 6/4/2012
    The McDonnell Law Firm, PLLC
    The McDonnell Law Firm, PLLC | Patrick J. McDonnell
    You have a Constitutional right to represent yourself. However, in the famous quote from the judge who re-sentenced a defendant who represented himself after appeal and got a more severe sentence, stated to him, " Yes, you do have a Constitutional right to represent yourself. However, if you exercise that right, you have a fool for a client!" GET A LAWYER!!
    Answer Applies to: New York
    Replied: 6/4/2012
    Law Office of Robert Sisson | Robert Sisson
    It depends. Did you refuse the breathe or blood draw? Will a conviction unduly affect your life and future.
    Answer Applies to: Wisconsin
    Replied: 6/4/2012
    Law Office of Russell A. Warren
    Law Office of Russell A. Warren | Russell A. Warren
    As there is the possibility of jail time on these types of charges, most judges will suggest that you retain one. It's not mandatory but advised.
    Answer Applies to: Missouri
    Replied: 6/4/2012
    The Jarrett Firm, LLC
    The Jarrett Firm, LLC | Patrick Jarrett
    It is not advisable to ever go to court without an attorney.
    Answer Applies to: Georgia
    Replied: 6/4/2012
    Darrell B. Reynolds, P.C. | Darrell B. Reynolds
    Anytime you are facing criminal charges you should have an attorney.
    Answer Applies to: Georgia
    Replied: 6/4/2012
    Law Offices of John Carney
    Law Offices of John Carney | John Carney
    You should always retain a good criminal lawyer to handle any crime that you are charged with. Many people are just too cheap and do not understand how getting a criminal conviction will hurt their chances of getting a job. You should not cut your own hair, drill your own teeth, or perform your own surgery, and you should never walk into a courtroom without an attorney. If you are indigent you will have an attorney appointed to represent you unless it is a traffic violation. Life is about staying out of trouble and making good decisions. Good Luck.
    Answer Applies to: New York
    Replied: 6/4/2012
    Abom & Kutulakis, L.L.P,.
    Abom & Kutulakis, L.L.P,. | Jason P. Kutulakis
    Yes.
    Answer Applies to: Pennsylvania
    Replied: 6/14/2013
    Klisz Law Office, PLLC
    Klisz Law Office, PLLC | Timothy J. Klisz
    If you don't care about your freedom, go right ahead. Criminal cases are very serious and jail time can be quite common in certain offenses without counsel helping you from the beginning.
    Answer Applies to: Michigan
    Replied: 6/4/2012
    Law Office of James E. Smith
    Law Office of James E. Smith | James Smith
    No but it's better to have one.
    Answer Applies to: Nevada
    Replied: 6/4/2012
    Cynthia Henley, Lawyer
    Cynthia Henley, Lawyer | Cynthia Henley
    You absolutely should hire a lawyer because there could be issues that could get the case dismissed or charged differently. Hire a lawyer as soon as possible.
    Answer Applies to: Texas
    Replied: 6/4/2012
    Gutin and Wolverton
    Gutin and Wolverton | Harley Gutin
    You don't have to get an attorney. But you should get an attorney.
    Answer Applies to: Florida
    Replied: 6/4/2012
    Dennis Roberts, a P.C.
    Dennis Roberts, a P.C. | Dennis Roberts
    Yes. It is standard fine etc. But if you are close to .08 often an atty can get you a wet reckless.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 6/4/2012
    Law Office of Thomas J. Ogas
    Law Office of Thomas J. Ogas | Thomas Ogas
    You don't NEED an attorney for a first offense, or for any offense at all, if you just want to go to court, plead guilty, and accept whatever punishment the judge gives you. You get an attorney if you want: 1) To be sure that you actually did, in fact, break the law. The police may think so, but they may be wrong, or they may not have enough evidence to prove it. 2) To be sure that you aren't getting screwed by the DA or the judge. 3) To get the least serious consequences possible. 4) To make sure that you do everything your supposed to do to get your license back and get your life back on track. An attorney just isn't a guy who goes to court and says my client will plead no-contest. If that's all you're paying for, you're getting ripped off. You're supposed to be hiring an expert to carefully review your case, negotiate your case, and advise you so that you make the best possible decisions in life ... and get the least serious consequences.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 6/4/2012
    Salberg Murdock
    Salberg Murdock | Jeffrey D. Salberg
    Yes. Penalties are severe. Even on a first offense. A competent DUI attorney may be able to lessen the impact. Consult with an attorney immediately to better understand what you are facing. Most cases are different depending on the facts of the case.
    Answer Applies to: Utah
    Replied: 6/4/2012
    Freeborn Law Offices, P.S.
    Freeborn Law Offices, P.S. | Steve Freeborn
    Without knowing the facts of your case, I cannot say. An attorney gives you the best chance of negotiating a possible deal. The penalties for a DUI conviction are substantial... even beyond the basic minimum penalties.... consiuder - impact on your insurance - loss of license - possible loss of job - alcohol/drug treatment. You really should at minimum consult with an attorney.
    Answer Applies to: Washington
    Replied: 6/4/2012
    Timothy J. Thill P.C.
    Timothy J. Thill P.C. | Timothy J. Thill
    If charged with a criminal offense, one for which you can be jailed, hire an attorney. You should not represent yourself in court, unless the charge is a minor moving violation or similar offense. The consequences of getting found guilty go far beyond going to jail, which you probably will not be facing in any case, but you may get a record that will follow you for the rest of your life.
    Answer Applies to: Illinois
    Replied: 6/4/2012
    Natty Shafer Law
    Natty Shafer Law | Nathaniel Shafer
    Legally speaking, you are allowed to represent yourself. That does not mean it is a good idea, though. A lawyer will be able to spot issues in your defense that are unlikely to occur to a layperson. There may be arguments for keeping evidence out of the trial, but someone inexperienced with the rules of evidence will not know how to keep the evidence out. Also, remember that you have 10 days from the date of the DUI to request a hearing from the DMV to keep your license from being suspended. If you don't request a hearing, your license will be suspended automatically.
    Answer Applies to: Utah
    Replied: 6/4/2012
    Law Office of Michael Morgan, l.L.C.
    Law Office of Michael Morgan, l.L.C. | Michael Morgan
    You can represent yourself but that is generally a very bad idea on a DUI. If you can't afford a lawyer, a public defender will be appointed to represent you.
    Answer Applies to: Washington
    Replied: 6/4/2012
    Law Office of James J. Rosenberger | James Joseph Rosenberger
    You can go through the process yourself but nobody in their right mind ought to. If money is an issue you may be eligible for a public defender. Contrary to popular opinion tbey are usually well qualified.
    Answer Applies to: Washington
    Replied: 6/4/2012
    Rogoway Green, LLP
    Rogoway Green, LLP | Douglas Green
    An attorney is not required but highly, highly recommended. You may be waiving a defense by not having an attorney and proceeding through the process by pleading guilty or entering diversion unless you intend on representing yourself and taking your case to trial (also extremely inadvisable).
    Answer Applies to: Oregon
    Replied: 6/4/2012
    Nelson & Lawless
    Nelson & Lawless | Terry Nelson
    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: 6/4/2012
    Miller & Harrison, LLC
    Miller & Harrison, LLC | David Harrison
    If you want you can handle a DUI case yourself, but it is a good idea to at least consult a lawyer to see if there may be good defenses to the case.
    Answer Applies to: Colorado
    Replied: 6/4/2012
    Law & Mediation Office of Jeffrey L. Pollock, Esq.
    Law & Mediation Office of Jeffrey L. Pollock, Esq. | Jeffrey Lawrence Pollock
    As I already wrote, anyone can represent himself, but then he has a fool for a client, as the saying goes.
    Answer Applies to: Pennsylvania
    Replied: 6/4/2012
    Ryan Berman, Esq | Ryan Berman
    You could, but it's not advisable. Sometimes the court will treat you more favorably with an attorney, and an attorney may be able to negotiate a better deal, or find a flaw with the case that you otherwise wouldn't. Getting an attorney is the best course of action if charged, and if anything else is a good insurance policy.
    Answer Applies to: Michigan
    Replied: 6/4/2012
    Benjamin D Gordon, Attorney at Law
    Benjamin D Gordon, Attorney at Law | Benjamin D Gordon
    You *can* go through the process by yourself. That said, DUI defense is highly technical and requires some very specific knowledge to be able to do effectively. I strongly encourage you to seek the representation of an attorney, even for a first offense. The consequences of a DUI conviction are severe and wide-ranging.
    Answer Applies to: Utah
    Replied: 6/4/2012
    San Diego DUI Law Center
    San Diego DUI Law Center | Rick Mueller
    Yes. Because you cannot represent yourself.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 6/4/2012
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