When to Hire a Criminal Defense Attorney

Criminal defense attorneys utilize years of experience and education to help defend clients who have been arrested on a criminal charge. Still, if you’ve been recently arrested for a crime, you may be wondering if you truly need to hire a lawyer for your case.

It’s certainly not the only option. Some people opt to represent themselves. Others take advantage of the requirement in our legal system that everyone has the right to an attorney and use a public defender. But for the vast majority of individuals facing criminal charges, going out and finding your own criminal lawyer is their best shot at receiving a favorable outcome in their case.

To better understand why you really want to hire your own defense attorney, let’s look at the other options available to people charged with a crime and why they tend to not be as successful.


You always have the right to represent yourself in court, unless the court rules you are incapable of doing so.

However, this is a risky option in almost criminal cases. You may believe that your case is “open-and-shut” in your favor, or you may believe that your knowledge of the law is adequate enough for self-representation.

Unless you are a criminal lawyer yourself, however, self-representation is an almost surefire way to earn a conviction. In fact, when attorneys are charged with crimes, they often opt to hire someone to represent them despite their knowledge of the law, because they know that it is still a better option.

As a pro se (self-representing) defendant, the judge will hold you to the same standards as a licensed attorney. This means you’ll be required to follow all the many complex rules of criminal case procedure, as well as the rules of evidence—whether you know them or not.

You’ll also be up against a prosecuting attorney who has likely has years of experience winning cases against alleged criminals. All of their expertise and experience will be directed at one goal: getting you convicted.

Public Defenders

You may be familiar with this right from the Miranda Warning: “You have the right to an attorney, if you cannot afford an attorney one will be provided for you.”

Our legal system allows people who cannot afford an attorney the option of a public defender. This is a criminal defense attorney who is appointed by the court and is paid by the state.

There are a number of talented and intelligent individuals who work as public defenders. But an unfortunate reality of the American criminal justice system is that public defenders are often overworked and unable to dedicate the attention necessary for a favorable ruling.

Public defenders are often forced to take on more cases than they can handle by the state. How bad is it? Despite the fact that the national standard for a public defender’s caseload is supposed to be 150 per year, many of them have caseloads closer to 300, 400, or 500.

The result is that many innocent people charged with crimes get convicted, and those who might have had a better outcome get severe criminal punishments.

When Do I Need an Attorney?

Denver Criminal Defense Attorney

In almost all criminal cases, hiring your own defense lawyer is the best possible option. Even misdemeanor offenses can come with severe, life-altering penalties, such as a criminal record. And a conviction can have a number of unexpected negative effects on your livelihood, including:

  • Disqualification from many public and private jobs
  • Disqualification from many housing opportunities
  • Loss of ability to purchase and carry a firearm
  • Loss of your driver’s license
  • Deportation for non-citizens

If you are facing criminal charges, the best possible option for a positive outcome is work with a knowledgeable defense attorney with a history of winning criminal cases. Get in touch with us today.

About the Author:

Denver-based criminal defense and DUI attorney Jacob E. Martinez is a knowledgeable and experienced litigator with a record of success providing innovative solutions to clients facing criminal charges of any severity. Mr. Martinez has been designated a Top 100 Trial Lawyer by the National Trial Lawyers and has been awarded both the Avvo Client’s Choice Award and Avvo Top Attorney designation, evidencing his reputation for his exemplary criminal and DUI defense work and high moral standards.