When do I have to hire an attorney in a criminal case? That's not exactly an easy question to answer without hearing certain details of the particular case. The basic rule is, if you believe your driver's license privileges are in jeopardy, excessive fines may be added or the state has filed Misdemeanor or Felony charges against you, which may place your personal freedom in jeopardy (jail or prison), you will need to hire an attorney to represent you in criminal court. Occasionally, clients call us before charges are filed. In that case, you need to contact our office for more detailed instructions regarding your particular situation.
Felonies: In the State of Illinois, felony charges are divided into classes. Class 4 through 1, Class X and Special Class Felony. Class 3 & 4 felonies are the less severe charges with less severe penalties and Class 1 & 2 Felonies are more severe charges with more severe penalties. Class X felonies, large drug possessions, drug deliveries, attempted murder, armed violence, home invasion, ect... are very serious charges with penalties ranging from 6 to 30 years in the Illinois Department of Corrections. Lastly and most severe are Special Class Felonies which include, very large drug possessions & deliveries or murder charges. Those penalties can range from 15 years to a life sentence in the Illinois Department of Corrections. If you are charged with a felony, no matter what class, you need to hire an attorney to defend you in criminal court.
Additionally, if you are charged or you believe you may be charged with an offense, you need to contact an attorney as soon as possible, Remember, YOU HAVE A CONSTITUTIONAL RIGHT TO REMAIN SILENT AND YOU HAVE A RIGHT TO HAVE AN ATTORNEY PRESENT DURING POLICE QUESTIONING. If you are arrested, you may request an attorney, it is your constitutional right!! If you are arrested, the authorities (police) are required to inform you of your Miranda Rights before they question you. At that time we recommend you ask for an attorney immediately. Remember, anything you say can and will be held against you!
Misdemeanors: Under Illinois State law, if you are charged with a misdemeanor you can serve up to 1 year in jail and/or pay fines. Misdemeanors include battery charges, small drug possessions, domestic battery, etc... It is always recommended you hire an attorney with any misdemeanor case. If you plead guilty to a misdemeanor, that conviction will be on your record the rest of your life. You need to give that some thought before you try to represent yourself. Our goal is to get supervision for you whenever we can, however, it all depends on the specific details of your case and your past criminal history.
DUI: DUI cases are misdemeanors as well, however, they are treated more severely than other traffic offenses. You may receive a traffic ticket for the offense but it's more complicated than it may seem. You can lose you drivers license privileges or pay heavy fines if you are found guilty. In fact, the judge will most likely suggest you hire an attorney. If you are charged with a DUI offense you should call our office as soon as possible and we will explain everything you will need to know. There are many questions we need to ask regarding your arrest. It is very important that the charging authority (police agency) follow the law when you are arrested for a DUI.
Traffic Cases: Most traffic cases, speeding, failure to stop, or other small traffic offenses known as "petty offenses" are less complicated to deal with, unless you have numerous charges. Most people go to court on their own and request supervision and need no assistance from an attorney. However, if you continue to have problems with traffic offenses, you may need to hire an attorney to represent you in court if you have numerous traffic tickets, especially if you are under 21-years-old. The laws are different regarding that age and if you receive two traffic convictions in a year you will lose your driving privileges. We can assist you in all traffic cases, big or small. However, please remember the more traffic tickets you have the more complicated it gets, so, we recommend you hire an attorney early on before cases add up. You may be asked to go to the State of Illinois Drivers License Facility to obtain a Drivers Abstract. That will assist the attorney with your traffic case or cases.