Stephen G. Cobb - Florida Criminal Defense Lawyer

Do I Still Need An Attorney If I Plan On Pleading Guilty?


Disclaimer: This article is in response to questions frequently asked of Mr. Cobb and is an unedited dictation transcript. Just like talk to text on your smartphone, there may be misspelled words or sentence fragments.

You absolutely do need an attorney for several reasons. Number one, if a lawyer looks at a discovery exhibit, you may have a defense that you are not aware of. For example, ask yourself, “Have you ever in your life heard of the defense of mutual combat?” Looking in every quadrant of our brains, no. Most people haven’t. There is a doctrine of law known as mutual combat, and certain facts have to be present. For example, someone seeks the advice of an attorney and wants to plead guilty, but their ultimate question comes down to, “How much do you charge? I just want to plead guilty.” The attorney may respond, “Well, that may not be in your best interest,” followed by an explanation of mutual combat.

That is one scenario. Of course, defense attorneys want to see discovery. They like to have a fact pattern report, but this is a defense that the person never would have known about. This is because there might be defenses that the individual would not be aware of because they are technical in nature. Secondly, the defendant doesn’t want to suffer courtroom surprise, whether it’s loss of firearms, being set up for a violation of probation or the ultimate courthouse surprise: where somebody goes to court and just wants to get it over with. They have something in their fact pattern they are completely unaware of, such as being aggravating, so the judge sentences them to a period of jail time.

Third, you will never get the best plea bargain representing yourself. It’s just not going to happen because the state knows and is trained by their office to know this. It’s not something you learn from experience; they are trained about these things. They know that if the deal falls apart and you don’t agree to what they want, you don’t stand a chance in a jury trial. That’s the reality. You don’t know what evidence to object to, and you certainly don’t know what the objections mean if you hear them coming out of the state attorney’s mouth because you haven’t been trained and don’t have any experience in that. So there is no incentive for the prosecutor to give you a good plea bargain.

This is why diversion programs were created by prosecutors so that people would wander in overconfident, try to just get it over with, take their medicine and boom! They created something that sounds almost too good to be true, and most of the time it is. The goal is to make the sentencing as onerous and difficult as possible because then the prosecutor can say, “Hey, look at me. I’m tough on crime,” and that’s a real problem. So if someone wants to just get it over with, that’s especially the time when they should hire legal counsel. You can save some money doing this if you explain to your lawyer,”Look, I don’t want to make this a federal case. I just want damage control. Can you adjust the fee accordingly?”

Most lawyers will comply with this for their clients’ best interests. Of course, you need to go with someone you can trust so that they are not just churning the case and manufacturing work. The lawyer may say, “Look, I really have an issue, and this is what it is. The legal fees need to be here.” In fact, most lawyers are willing to do a bifurcated fee if the scenario demands it. This is optimal for someone who just wants to get their case over with.

Do the smart thing and get it over with but do it in such a way that it’s more like a negotiated dismissal, easy, fast and simple, and not a one year long diversion program filled with landmines and booby traps that, if you violate, the elected prosecutor has one more statistic for a re-election bid.

Disclaimer: This article is in response to questions frequently asked of Mr. Cobb and is an unedited dictation transcript. Just like talk to text on your smartphone, there may be misspelled words or sentence fragments.

For more information on Pleading Guilty With Assistance Of A Lawyer, a free initial consultation is your next best step. Get the information and legal answers you are seeking by calling (850) 466-1522 today.

Stephen G. Cobb, Esq.

Get your questions answered - call me for your free, 20 min phone consultation (850) 466-1522

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