It’s rare that we can make a blanket statement that’s true across the board, but here it is: NEVER PLEAD GUILTY.

We’ve talked to people who want to plead guilty because they believe are guilty and it just seems easier. Plus, they won’t have to worry about hiring an attorney. This is not a good idea. In fact, it’s a terrible idea. Even for a misdemeanor, jail time and large fines are possible. If it’s your first offense, you may not get the jail time, but it’s not a chance you should take. A conviction will be on your permanent record. Only some convictions can be expunged later on, and there’s no guarantee.

So what do we recommend? If you are charged with a crime, get a lawyer and plead not guilty. Most likely, your attorney will work something out with the prosecutor and it will turn out better than going in front of the judge or handling it yourself. The judges are busy and so are the prosecutors. As a general rule, working out a deal is much easier for them, and they are more than willing to do so, IF you are represented by an attorney.

Of course, there’s no guarantee, especially if you have prior convictions, but the best thing you can do for yourself is find an experienced criminal defense attorney. Go with someone local who has a good reputation with the prosecutors and judges in the courthouse where your case is going to be heard. An attorney might cost you $1,500, but it’s better than paying the full fine or having a conviction on your record.

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