Many people think that they can go to court on their own and just “explain” their situation to the Judge and they will get their charge reduced. Others think that on their own, they will be able to convince the Judge to treat them leniently. To be honest, it is possible to do anything on your own. Conversely, even if you hire a lawyer, no lawyer can guarantee a particular result.
Basically, there is no law that says you have to have a lawyer. However, because you are not trained in Virginia Law, and have not received the “on the job” training that we have received by being in Virginia Courts almost every day for almost three decades, you really do not have the ability to present the best case to beat the charge, nor convince the court to treat you leniently.
The main advantage of retaining a lawyer is that a lawyer will be able to identify any legal defenses you may have. Contrary to popular belief, people can win Criminal, Reckless Driving and DUI/DWI charges. In addition, by knowing the personality of the Judges, a good lawyer will know what arguments will work best with each Judge. If, after reviewing all the facts, the law, and any technical defenses you may have (e.g. in the case of Reckless Driving the calibrations of the speed detection device used in your case, in the case of DUI/DWI the operations records of the breath alcohol machine, in a Criminal case Constitutional search and seizure issues) your lawyer concludes that winning a trial would be difficult, he can negotiate with the Prosecutor to reduce the charge or limit the punishment. A lawyer is essential for these negotiations, because in most jurisdictions, a private citizen is not allowed to speak with the Prosecutor. Most Prosecutors only speak with retained attorneys. Thus, without an attorney, you have virtually no ability to reach a plea agreement. And in jurisdictions where a prosecutor will talk to you, you are negotiating with an experienced attorney. With no legal training, how can you really negotiate?
In summary, in order to protect your rights, it is almost always better to be represented by an attorney. While no attorney can guarantee any particular outcome or result, an experienced attorney can better help you win a trial or negotiate a plea agreement to reduce your charge or your punishment.
HOW WE SET OUR FEES
To be honest with you, we are slightly more expensive than many other firms. We charge based upon the value we can bring to your case. So if you are looking for the cheapest firm in town, you should not hire us. (Note: When I was a Prosecutor, I noticed that the cheaper lawyers did not file the necessary motions needed to win a case, had not done the legal research and preparation, and that they usually had some place else they needed to go because they represented multiple people on the same day. I promised myself that I would never be that kind of attorney and would always give my clients the attention their case deserved.)
We charge a fair fee for the work we do because we undertake a great amount of legal work prior to court so that we know all the possible defenses available to our clients. Then when in court, our attorneys generally handle only one serious case a day.
In addition, few other firms feature attorneys who are:
Regularly instruct other lawyers on how to defend these cases,
Invited to comment on the law on national network and cable t.v. (e.g. Fox, CNN, MSNBC, “Today Show”)
Multiple Washingtonian Magazine and NOVA Magazine “Top Lawyers”, and
Have had their legal defenses reported state-wide to other attorneys in the Virginia Lawyers Weekly.