Anyone who wonders if they need a defense attorney should consult with one as soon as possible. There are no negative consequences from contacting a lawyer too soon; waiting too long could cost you everything.
The most important thing to remember is not to answer any questions, consent to any kind of search, or talk about the situation to anyone other than your defense attorney.
It is always imperative to ask for an attorney and remember to remain silent and not answer any questions or make any statements. Politely inform the officers or investigators that you do not intend to talk to them and nothing will change your mind. After arrest, you will be booked into the county detention center. You may be immediately given a bond amount or you may have to wait to appear in front of a judge. After posting bond, immediately consult with a criminal defense attorney to begin working on your case.
Typically, misdemeanor charges are less serious offenses that are punishable by a year or less in jail and a small fine. Misdemeanors are often exclusively handled in separate courts such as municipal or state courts. Conviction of a misdemeanor will have a minimal impact on your life as you will retain your basic civil rights. A felony is a more serious offense that is punishable by more than a year in a jail or prison and substantial fines. A felony conviction may result in losing your right to vote, serve on a jury, own or possess a firearm, and obtain gainful employment.
Legally, any attorney who has completed law school and passed their state’s bar exam can practice law and represent you in court. However, not all attorneys have the training and experience to effectively defend you in a criminal matter. Like doctors, most attorneys have areas of expertise that they focus on. For example, if you needed heart surgery, you should most likely consult a cardiologist, rather than an asthma specialist. Likewise, if you are accused in a criminal matter, you need a criminal defense attorney as opposed to an attorney who specializes in family or real estate law.