Felonies have serious consequences in Texas. Murder, aggravated assault and destruction of property fall into this category and can result in thousands of dollars' worth of fines and years in prison. Unfortunately, many people assume that, while felonies require legal representation, misdemeanors are simpler to handle.
While it is true a misdemeanor is not as serious as a felony, a conviction can still lead to substantial fines and time in jail. There are plenty of other long-term consequences to think about. You can certainly represent yourself in court regardless of the crime the state charges you with. However, you will always be better off with a lawyer by your side.
Why hire an attorney?
Many misdemeanors result in around six months in jail if convicted. In the event a conviction occurs, you will need to take time away from work and your family to go to jail. You could easily lose your job, and if you are a single parent, then the state will take away your children for the time being. You may also need to attend mandatory classes, which would be the case if convicted of a first-offense DUI. You may also lose your ability to carry a firearm. Representing yourself is too big of a gamble to make when so many consequences are on the line.
What if you cannot afford a lawyer?
The primary reason why people are hesitant to hire lawyers for misdemeanors is due to the perceived cost of hiring one. While it is true you will need to spend money, it is well worth it when you could potentially lose your job. The truth of the matter is that you will not have to spend as much money defending a misdemeanor charge as a felony. Misdemeanors result in fewer court dates and not as much evidence. It may actually be more affordable to hire a lawyer than reluctantly pay whatever fine the court charges you with.