Interviewer: I see. What about people that feel guilty and they want to plead guilty, do you ever have cases like that? They say, “Hey you know, should I just plead guilty?” What would you tell them?
Matthew: When we get the call from an individual just wanting to talk to an attorney maybe for an initial consultation and they say, “You know, I’m thinking about just going in, pleading guilty, and just getting it done with.” Certainly every person has a right to do that if they want to do that. However, a lot of times they’re not going to get the best offer initially. Although their police report or their recollection of the events may make them think that they have no defenses, a seasoned attorney can look at a police report, watch a video and find defenses, valid defenses that can be argued and mitigating the charges down to a lesser offense or even negotiating even a better plea offer.
I would submit to you that rarely is it in someone’s best interest to plea at arraignment and accept the State’s initial offer.
Pitfalls of Defending Yourself in a Criminal DUI Case
Interviewer: What about defending themselves? Have you had clients that try to say, “I’ll just go and do it myself.” What would you say to that client?
Matthew: For an individual who wants to represent themselves, we strongly advise against it, even in the simplest of cases. Those individuals aren’t trained in the rules of evidence. They’re not trained how to pick a jury if it ever gets that far. They’re not trained on the timeliness of filing motions or even how to file a motion. Whenever an individual is considering representing themselves I always explain to them that, “Hey if you need to get a root canal, you wouldn’t do that yourself would you?” You would go see a dentist. It’s similar to that type of scenario, only with the courts you’re dealing with your freedom. In a lot of respects there’s more on the line.