Should I Still Hire an Attorney if I Think I’m Guilty?
There are many solid reasons why the U.S. Supreme Court in 1966 ordered police and prosecutors to read what has become known as the Miranda Rights warning before interrogating a suspect. Not doing so, of course, gives authorities an intimidation factor—speak or things will get worse. People brought in for questioning are probably going to feel intimidated anyway, so they may say things that can come back to haunt them.
The two most important elements of the Miranda warning are, “Anything you say can and will be used against you in a court of law” and “You have a right to an attorney.” Therefore, if you are brought in for questioning, it’s the best approach not to answer questions and to consult with an attorney as quickly as possible before continuing the interrogation.
You may honestly believe you’re guilty, and you may want to get the whole thing over with by pleading guilty. This is not a good idea at the initial stages of an investigation. You may think by pleading guilty, authorities will go easy on you, but there’s no guarantee of that. You need the guidance and counsel of an attorney even if you ultimately decide to plead guilty.
If you’re facing a criminal investigation or charge in or around Tulsa, Oklahoma, even if you feel you’re guilty, reach out to us at Military Law Group. Our seasoned criminal defense attorneys will discuss your case with you, advise you of your rights and help you protect those rights, and then represent you aggressively through every phase of the process moving forward.
We proudly serve clients throughout the Tulsa metro area, including Rogers County, Creek County, and the Creek and Cherokee Nations.
Possible Consequences of a Guilty Plea
Suppose you’re brought in on a charge of driving under the influence (DUI). The police already took a breathalyzer test showing your blood alcohol content (BAC) to be above the legal limit of 0.08 percent. They’ve got the goods on you, right, so you decide it’s best just to get it over with and plead guilty.
But not so fast. Even a breathalyzer test result can be challenged. The instrument needs to be regularly calibrated, and police must follow established procedures in administering the test. In other words, the evidence can be challenged.
An attorney can help you attain a lesser sentence by pointing out these facts or showing that your rights were violated in some way. Even a first-time DUI can end up with significant jail time, which you no doubt want to avoid.
That’s just one example, so let’s look at what the results might entail if you do choose to plead guilty to a charge, whether a DUI or something more serious. All have consequences such as:
JAIL TIME: Even a DUI, which is a misdemeanor, can result in one year behind bars in a county jail. Other misdemeanors and felonies can carry longer terms, even prison time. Misdemeanors are generally limited to one year in jail, but felony convictions can result in more serious terms.
FINES: A DUI, depending on whether it’s a state charge or a municipality charge, can result in a fine of up to $1,200. Fines can increase for repeat offenses and felonies.
LOSS OF DRIVING PRIVILEGES: A first-time DUI carries with it a six-month loss of driving privileges, which can be challenged.
PROBATION: Many sentences also include probationary terms, during which you will have to report to a probation officer, maybe even wear an ankle bracelet and take periodic drug and alcohol tests. Community service may also be included.
CRIMINAL RECORD: Once you admit guilt, or are convicted in court, a criminal record will be created in your name, and prospective employers (and really just about any interested party) can access that record. Having a criminal record can harm your chances of getting the job of your dreams or obtaining the professional license you need for your chosen career.
LOSS OF GUN AND VOTING RIGHTS: Some felonies can prevent you from owning or possessing firearms or even voting in elections.
DEPORTATION: A conviction or guilty plea could lead to removal proceedings.
LOSS OF CUSTODY OR VISITATION RIGHTS: Depending on the crime, your guilty plea or conviction can also result in your losing custody of your children or even the right to visit them except perhaps under supervision.
DAMAGE TO PERSONAL AND FAMILY RELATIONSHIPS: Your guilty plea or conviction can harm the relationships you already have in place among family, friends, and colleagues. They may suddenly view you in a new and unfavorable way.
Reasons to Hire an Attorney Even if You Think You’ve Guilty
“Look before you leap” is a popular saying that can apply to a variety of situations, and pleading guilty without careful consideration certainly falls into that category. From the above list of possible consequences, you can surmise how drastically changed your life will be if you plead guilty. You need to examine all your options with an experienced criminal defense attorney before admitting guilt to authorities.
Your defense attorney can challenge all the evidence arrayed against you even before there is a trial. Using what’s found in the discovery process, plus what you relay in your own words, your attorney can negotiate with prosecutors for a lesser charge, perhaps even a dropped charge, or a more favorable plea deal.
If matters do go to trial and you plead not guilty, your attorney can challenge every bit of evidence, including any witness testimony. Remember, prosecutors have to prove your guilt “beyond a reasonable doubt,” a high legal bar. Your attorney can work to cast reasonable doubt on the prosecutors’ case.
Your attorney can also argue to get you into a diversion program, which if completed successfully, will result in your charge being dismissed. Diversion programs, often used for drug- and mental health-related cases, usually involve treatment programs, drug tests, counseling, and job requirements. There is also a diversion program for military veterans. Note, however, that if you fail to complete your diversion program, you can end up back in jail or face other legal consequences.
Strong and Reliable Representation
Even if you feel you are guilty, you still have rights under the Constitution and state and federal laws. Police and prosecutors also have high standards they must meet. Perhaps one of your rights was violated. Perhaps police lacked probable cause to arrest you, or authorities conducted an illegal search and seizure, or your Miranda Rights were violated.
Don’t be quick on casting your fate with the authorities. Get solid legal representation and counsel before answering questions, agreeing to any plea deal, or simply throwing up your hands and admitting your guilt.
In the Greater Tulsa area, reach out to Military Law Group. Our team of experienced and knowledgeable criminal defense attorneys will make sure your rights are protected and that you fully understand the consequences of any decision you make. We will also represent you vigorously to obtain the best possible result in your case.