Why You Still Need A Lawyer If You Plan To Admit To A Crime

Some crimes are committed by people who are completely unaware that what they're doing is wrong, but most crimes leave the criminal well aware of their involvement. If you fall into the second category, you may be tempted to plead guilty to an accusation of criminal behavior to avoid a trial and all the challenges that come along with it. Choosing to plead guilty does simplify the proceedings, but it doesn't eliminate your need for professional representation and counsel. You need to hire a criminal defense lawyer, even just to plead guilty, for the five following reasons.

Admitting Without Confessing

In some cases, you don't need to plead guilty, but, rather, you need to use an "admit and explain" defense. This is the case when you technically did commit the actions you're accused of, but you did them for a different reason than the prosecution is asserting. For example, a person who kills someone else in self-defense should not automatically plead guilty to a murder or manslaughter charge just because they did cause the death. These kinds of defenses must be handled with extreme care to avoid being considered a confession, so you'll definitely need a lawyer's help.

Negotiating a Plea Bargain

The urge to confess and plead guilty is often driven by pressure from the prosecution. They may be frightening you with information about the potential maximum sentence in the hopes you'll confess. If you are going to plead guilty, you should at least attempt to make a plea bargain that gives you a fixed punishment rather than leaving you to the mercy of open sentencing. Many prosecutors will only give you a plea bargain or lower the sentencing recommendations if you have a lawyer negotiating with them to do so.

Establishing Mental Health

Mental health issues play an undeniable role in many crimes, so it's important for you to be considered fairly based on actual competency level regardless of what you plead. Pleading guilty too early eliminates your chances for a mental health evaluation that could lower your sentence or commute it to treatment in a facility other than a prison. You may not realize that your mental health played a role in your crime, so it's best to let a lawyer decide if you need an evaluation or not rather than proceeding as if you're competent without a professional's opinion on the matter.

Guiding Your Transition

A criminal defense lawyer from firms like Funderburk  and Lane doesn't stop working for you the minute you plead guilty. They're by your side during sentencing and even as you report to the jail or prison to begin your sentence. Retaining counsel through this transition helps you avoid unfair and unconstitutional treatment that you might not be aware of. You still have rights even after pleading guilty to a crime, and only an experienced lawyer can watch out for all of those rights as you go through the processes of the justice system. Having someone looking out for you can make the difference between a fair sentence and an extreme punishment for a mild crime.

Planning an Appeal

Finally, many criminals are completely unaware that they retain the right to appeal their conviction even after pleading guilty. Appeals are based on mistakes made during the investigation and prosecution of the crime, and your plea does not diminish your rights to have the case re-tried if it was unfair or handled incorrectly. Hiring a lawyer during the initial plea bargaining phase is a better idea than waiting until you're sentenced if you are interested in possibly appealing. The lawyer will have a better chance at gathering proof of a mistake made during the trial if they're present for the entire process.