How Hiring A Felony Defense Attorney Differs From Other Criminal Attorneys

Posted on: 29 October 2016

Criminal attorneys manage all kinds of cases. Some may manage cases whereby the accused parties have only committed misdemeanors. Other lawyers, like a felony defense attorney, handle just felony cases. Dealing with felonies and misdemeanors are worlds apart, since the severity of the punishments with felonies are far greater. Here is how hiring a felony defense attorney differs from other criminal attorneys.

You Absolutely Need a Felony Defense Attorney

When the crime you are accused of is severe enough, you should not be without an attorney. Unless you are a lawyer yourself and can mount your own defense, going without an attorney could mean a much more severe punishment if you are found guilty. In worst-case scenarios, you could be sentenced to death without an attorney. That is not a risk you should take by rescinding your right to legal counsel. 

You Do Not Need a Misdemeanor Attorney

On the flip side of the coin, you do not need a lawyer for misdemeanors. In fact, many states either do not allow or do not encourage legal counsel for things like driving without a license or proof of insurance. There may be some more extreme misdemeanors where you might want to have a lawyer present, but for the most part, it is not necessary to have a lawyer. The punishments are significantly lesser, too, which is why you would be more apt to find and hire a felony lawyer than you would hire a lawyer for misdemeanors.

Felony Defense Attorneys Are Often Appointed to Represent

Along with acknowledging the severity of the crime(s) with which you have been accused, the legal system will automatically assign you a felony defense attorney. This happens when you A) cannot afford to hire an attorney of your own choosing, or B) you need temporary representation for arraignment, indictment and/or pre-trial hearings until you can find and hire your own lawyer. You may also choose to keep the appointed attorney as your defense/trial lawyer if you find that he or she is someone who will effectively help you reduce the charges or punishment and/or get the charges dropped.

Misdemeanors Are Rarely Appointed Lawyers

It is highly unlikely (and very unusual for most courts) to appoint a lawyer for misdemeanors. The judge may ask you if you would like legal counsel or would like a lawyer appointed to your case, but that is also unusual in most instances where the crime(s) are rather minor. As such, you may never see or need a criminal attorney for anything less than a felony, and even then some first-time, lesser felonies can go without legal representation too. It just depends on the crime and the city and state in which the crime was committed.