Do I Need A Lawyer Vol. 1
Yes, you do, if not now then eventually, you will need one of us to help you with something. It might be as innocuous as drafting a will, or as terrifying as defending you from death row, it just depends on your choices. This is the first in a series about the law, based upon my legal experiences as a lawyer for over 25 years, filled with real-life examples from representing over 5,000 clients, I will cover the most common criminal offenses that people commit in this volume, which should help many of you.
Crimes can be as minor as a speeding ticket, up to multiple homicides, chances are that at some point you will commit some sort of crime. When that day comes, do not make your 2nd mistake by trying to handle your self-created mess on your own. Your 1st mistake was committing a crime in the first place, by the way.
Why don’t I suggest that you handle it on your own?
Because the law can be as complicated as medicine, and without a proper education, home remedies can only take you so far. So, if you wind up staring at a police officer without a sense of humor, call a lawyer as soon as possible: Do Not Represent Yourself! Thankfully, Judges try and prevent most people from representing themselves in court; the main exception is in traffic court and some minor charges that don’t carry mandatory jail time. But, even some of these small offenses have nasty consequences, such as being barred from many different jobs, or being prevented from taking out student loans, and one specific offense usually leads to divorce.
Now jail is an obvious outcome that most people would like to prevent, and unless you have done something particularly serious, your lawyer will probably get you some sort of probation for whatever dumb thing you decided to do.
But what about not being able to get certain jobs, this makes no sense to me, you say.
If you commit a crime that raises questions about your honesty, or integrity, it will haunt you forever. For example, on your 21st birthday, you decide to steal a really expensive bottle of scotch from the local liquor store. You get caught and if it’s less than $300-$500 dollars, you get a shoplifting ticket. If it’s more than $500, you will be arrested and charged with either misdemeanor or felony theft. Stealing is dishonest, whether it’s just a ticket, or a criminal conviction and many high paying jobs insist that their members are honest, or at least have not gotten caught yet.
So, even the aforementioned shoplifting ticket will prevent you from going to law school. Yes, I know we have a terrible reputation, but remember once we are lawyers then we can steal but not before, we have to be educated, regulated thieves. You can also forget about politics other than anything at a community level. Working in any field which requires any sort of security clearance is also out of the question. In this hypothetical scenario, one stupid move, probably while you were already drunk, carries major repercussions. Just ask Wynona Ryder how well her acting career went after getting busted for shoplifting.
What about school, how can a crime stop me there?
The easiest example is drug possession, even just a joint, if you live in a jurisdiction where pot is still illegal; a conviction is enough to ruin your life. In the United States, if you are convicted or plead guilty of possessing any illegal drug, you are ineligible for Federal Guaranteed student loans of any kind forever. Now, let that sink in for a moment. You get busted for a joint, and unless you can pay for school yourself, you will be working in the food service industry, or if you’re lucky, in a trade like welding forever. As you will see shortly, a lawyer can make all of these nasty consequences disappear; you just have to pay us, and sometimes it’s a lot, to clean up your mess. If you are interested in the humorous side of practicing law, where I clean up lots of messes, please read my memoir series, “Expensive Janitor.”
So now you know why you want a lawyer for a crime with consequences, but what about speeding tickets, surely I can handle those on my own right?
Nope, not a chance.
If you request a court date, your lawyer can help in big ways. First, the cop that stopped you only shows up about half of the time to traffic court. Why? Because court dates are always scheduled on a cop’s day off so that the cop is not wasting his assigned duty shift by being in court. Now no one likes to lose their day off, particularly if it’s connected to a weekend, holiday, or any other time where the days can be connected together. So, quite often, the cop does not show up to traffic court
Well, I can request a court date and take my chances that the cop will not show up, right?
Wrong. If the cop does not show up, the court most likely will not dismiss the ticket but instead, reschedule it for another time, and you are more likely to have the cop show up that time. Worse, if you guess wrong, and the cop does show up, you will be convicted unless you have a witness, other than yourself who can testify how fast you were actually going.
Because the judge believes that the officer does not have the self interest to lie that an accused speeder does, and will actually tell the truth, after he has sworn an oath to do so. We will discuss this fallacy later, but trust me, I have been in traffic court more times than I care to recount, and the only people who get out of the ticket have their lawyer with them. This will get covered in the first chapter of this book. I will then describe other crimes, criminal procedure, how trials work, and how we lawyers get you out of your own mess.
Why is the law so messed up that I have to hire a lawyer for anything that I do wrong?
An excellent question as the law should be simple and straight forward. Lawyers, however, are predatory by nature and always hungry for more money. Since the time of Hammurabi’s Codex, which is a black granite stele, in the basement of the Louvre with his laws carved into the rock in about 1800 BC, lawyers have made the law more and more complicated, to make sure that we have guaranteed employment.
By now, you might be feeling negative about crime, and the fact that it truly never pays. This assumption could not be further from the truth. Crime pays quite well, it covers my mortgage, utilities and car payments with a little left over, so let’s have a look into the dark, mysterious, dangerous and preposterously stupid world of crime.
Chapter One - Speeding Tickets
So, you are not paying attention while driving home from work, and suddenly there are flashers behind you approaching at a high rate of speed. You look at your speedometer, and you were doing 10 miles an hour over. You pull over immediately, and you get out your insurance, your license and registration, well before the cop arrives at your window.
Because sadly lots of cops get shot or attacked by people with serious arrest warrants out for them, so the cop gets really uncomfortable seeing you rummaging around in your glove box for your paperwork. So get it out ahead of time.
Now, the cop is going to ask you two questions, the first is a variation on the same theme, “Do you know why I pulled you over?” The answer to this question needs to be honest, I repeat, HONEST!!! The cop did not choose you at random because he did not like the color of your skin or the fact that you were driving a beater. Oops, technically that’s not true if you live in an expensive white neighborhood, like where I grew up, the cops are paid to profile everyone that they see to make certain that they have any business, besides planning a felony, for being in the rich white town.
However, let’s assume that profiling in your case is not an issue. So, when he or she asks “Do you know why I stopped you?” you say the following in the most apologetic tone, “Probably because I was speeding. I am very sorry officer; I was not paying attention to how fast I was going.” Now, having used this reply personally, I can tell you that right now, you have a 50/50 chance of the cop saying in a surprised tone of voice.
“Wow, you are the first honest person that I have stopped all day. If I let you go without a ticket, will you be more careful?”
“Of course, officer: sorry to put you through any trouble.”
At that point, you have avoided the need for me or any of my kind. Congratulations you are home free. Most people, however, are neither clever, much less honest with the cop. The cops hear all sorts of Denials from drivers who are lying through their teeth. Some of these are: “I was not going that fast,” “my speedometer is broken”, and the worst, one “Hey Officer I don’t believe you, I want to see the radar gun.” If you choose this pathway, you can forget getting out of this one without help straight away.