Do I need to hire an attorney?

I've been charged with a DUII. Do I need a lawyer?

Although legally you can represent yourself, in all seriousness, it is just not a good idea. You can hire me, hire someone else, or apply for a court-appointed attorney if you financially qualify - who you choose to have represent you is entirely up to you, but don't go to court without someone who knows what they are doing to help you.

Now I know you might view this answer with some suspicion, coming from a lawyer and all, but I would give this same advice to every member of my family, and let me tell you why. Let's pick on my littlest sister - she is now 35 years old and teaches elementary school - she is smart and articulate, but she is not familiar with the court system. I would not want my sister to go to court without a solid attorney helping her, because, frankly, this is a criminal case - if things go horribly wrong in court, she goes to jail that day.

And it's not because my little sister isn't intelligent and articulate - she is both. It is because I would not want her to be her own guinea pig in trying to navigate a criminal justice system that is not logical and seldom reasonable.

As a last thought or two on this - when I was a prosecutor I never took advantage of a person who didn't have an attorney, but at the same time, I didn't go out of my way to do them any favors either. As I saw it, if he or she didn't have a lawyer, that meant to me that they didn't take the matter seriously.

It is not the judge's job or the prosecutor's job to help a person charged with a crime - that is the role of the defense attorney, and if you don't have one a good one helping you, the reality is that you are at a serious disadvantage.

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