Do I have to get a lawyer if the prosecutor wants to offer me a deal?

UPDATED: Mar 20, 2012

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Do I have to get a lawyer if the prosecutor wants to offer me a deal?

I am 38 years old. I was arrested the other night and charged with 4th degree assault DV. I have nothing else on my record, not even a traffic ticket. I went for my first appearance yesterday and the judge said I do not qualify for a public defender. I do not have the money for a lawyer. I found a lawyer that will take payments but my husband went to talk to the prosecuter yesterday and he said on my court date he is going to offer me a deal of continuance of dismissal for 1 year and a $150 fine. Do I still need the lawyer if they are going to dismiss without one? I really don’t want to go anymore in debt if I don’t have to?

Asked on March 20, 2012 under Criminal Law, Washington


Kevin Bessant / Law Office of Kevin Bessant & Associates

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

The short answer is no, you do not "need" an attorney, but as the saying goes, a person who represents himself in a criminal case without an attorney has a fool for a lawyer. Not to be insulting, but it is much better to navigate the criminal system with an experienced attorney who can review your case and determine certain grounds for a dismissal or victory at trial then it is to just go to the courthouse and plead guilty for what is perceived as a "good" plea offer from the prosecutor. I can not speak for your finances, but I know that in most courts, a plea that involves probation will also include fines and costs that must be paid to the court. And if you fail to successfully complete the probation, the dismissal fly's out the window and you could be stuck with a criminal conviction. But again, you do not "have" to have an attorney represent you in court, but I do not advise you go that route.

IMPORTANT NOTICE: The Answer(s) provided above are for general information only. The attorney providing the answer was not serving as the attorney for the person submitting the question or in any attorney-client relationship with such person. Laws may vary from state to state, and sometimes change. Tiny variations in the facts, or a fact not set forth in a question, often can change a legal outcome or an attorney's conclusion. Although has verified the attorney was admitted to practice law in at least one jurisdiction, he or she may not be authorized to practice law in the jurisdiction referred to in the question, nor is he or she necessarily experienced in the area of the law involved. Unlike the information in the Answer(s) above, upon which you should NOT rely, for personal advice you can rely upon we suggest you retain an attorney to represent you.

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