Do I Need an Attorney If I Think I’m Guilty?
Oct. 17, 2023
According to the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, there were 33,067 violent arrests and 57,132 property offense arrests in Florida in 2021. Also, according to the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles, there were 546 DUI violations in Escambia County in 2022. Examining these numbers, it’s clear that many people make mistakes, and all kinds of people may find themselves in situations that they later regret. But every single person deserves to have their rights protected.
If you have committed a crime and feel that you are guilty, you may be wondering whether hiring an attorney is going to be useful. The answer is a resounding yes. You deserve due process, and an attorney will help to make sure that you receive a fair trial. Your attorney’s job is to defend you and stand up for your rights—whether you committed a crime or not—and your attorney may even be able to secure you alternative sentencing.
If you’re facing criminal charges in Florida, reach out to criminal defense attorney Tom McGuire at Panhandle Defense Firm, serving Pensacola and other parts of Escambia County. Tom, a former criminal prosecutor, knows how the other side will think during your trial. Additionally, as a former public defender, Tom knows that criminals are often in the wrong place at the wrong time and deserve attorneys who will fight for them.
Possible Consequences of a Guilty Plea
Don’t underestimate the possible impact of a guilty plea on your life:
Of course, the main negative result of a guilty plea is often jail time. For example, even a first DUI offense in Florida could potentially see you facing up to nine months in jail. This could severely impact your mental and physical health as well as your home and family life.
Serving time in jail will severely disrupt your employment situation. You may lose your job, and you may find it difficult to find work when you are released. You may even lose a professional license due to your time in jail. (For example, a DUI conviction may result in a loss of a commercial driving license.)
Many crimes in Florida result in steep fines. To set out some examples for common crimes, the fine for property damage resulting from criminal mischief involving graffiti can range from $250 to $1000; DUI first offenses can carry fines of $500 to $1000; and simple assault can send you back $500 in fines.
Inability to Carry a Firearm
It will be difficult to qualify to carry a firearm if you have a prior conviction. If you are convicted of a violent misdemeanor in Florida, you are ineligible to apply for a Firearm License or a Concealed Weapon license until three years after probation has been completed or you have fulfilled all other requirements set by the court. Felons are barred from possessing firearms until they have applied for a restoration of their gun rights. This will be difficult to do without an attorney to advise you.
If you are not a U.S. citizen, any crime on your record may make you vulnerable to deportation. Certain crimes can even make lawful permanent residents targets for deportation by the U.S. government. It is essential to get advice from a criminal defense attorney immediately if you have been charged with a crime and you are not a U.S. citizen.
Loss of Visitation Rights and Child Custody
Any crime, but especially violent crimes and DUIs, can sway the court’s decision when it comes to child custody. A criminal defense attorney can help to argue your case in any child custody hearings.
Why Hire an Attorney If You Think You Are Guilty?
If you have made a mistake and are truly guilty of the crime with which you’ve been charged, you may think you have nowhere to turn and no way to mitigate any aspect of your situation. However, an attorney can advise you on all of the options available to you. You may have more options than you think. Consider the following:
Burden of Proof
The prosecutor’s job is to prove that you committed the crime beyond a reasonable doubt. Your attorney may be able to challenge evidence that the prosecution has against you, thus making it difficult for the prosecution to prove that you are guilty. If evidence against you was obtained illegally, your attorney may be able to get that evidence dismissed from the proceedings. For example, if you are arrested for drug possession during an unlawful traffic stop, your attorney may be able to argue that the evidence against you is inadmissible.
Even if you think you are guilty, your attorney will examine your case from every angle to determine whether you have a good defense. Let’s say you are convicted of assault but your attorney can prove that you were in fact using self-defense. You could get a lighter sentence or possibly have your sentence dismissed.
Negotiating a Plea Deal
Even if you are guilty, you might not necessarily need to serve the full sentence you’d expect. If your attorney—after reviewing all of your options with you—determines that your best option is to plead guilty, they may be able to negotiate a lighter sentence with the judge.
Alternatives to Jail
As well as negotiating plea deals, your lawyer may be able to facilitate alternative sentencing for you. This alternative sentencing can include probation, along with community service, counseling, and substance abuse treatment. Probation may prove to be a limitation on your freedoms, but it is often preferable to serving time in jail.
Make Sure the Punishment Fits the Crime
If you’ve been charged with a crime, contact an experienced criminal defense attorney right away. Reach out to Tom McGuire, Attorney at Law, at Panhandle Defense Firm, serving Pensacola, Florida as well as other areas of Escambia and Santa Rosa Counties. No matter where you live in the state, Tom can present a well-supported defense to the court, as well as argue for alternative sentencing in accordance with your unique situation. Most importantly, you’ll be supported throughout the entire process. Contact Tom McGuire today for a consultation.