If I have a court date set for2 misdemeanor charges, do I need a lawyer?

One is for giving false information (name) and the other is for criminal trespass in the third degree. I was under the influence of alcohol at the time.

Asked on September 16, 2011 under Criminal Law, New York


M.D., Member, California and New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 9 years ago | Contributor

Any time criminal charges are involved it is always advisable to a legal representation. Experienced defense counsel may be able to get the charges dismissed on a technicality, have them reduced, or even win an acquittal at trial if it comes to that. No matter the charge, a conviction can affect you for years to come - student loans, employment, even the ability to rent an apartment. If you can't afford a lawyer, one may be appointed if you meet income eligibility requirements. Either way, you should seek a criminal law attorney to help guide you through all of this.

Additionally, if you are a first-time offender, you may be eligible for "diversion". This is an alternative sentencing program that will "divert" you out of the criminal justice system if you successfully complete your probation. Accordingly, you will be left without a criminal record. If you are offered diversion by the prosecutor, you should still at the very least consult with a criminal defense attorney as to you rights/responsibilities under such a program.

Note: Diversion is for first-time offenders only. So if you should need it in the future it will not be available to you. This is why having a lawyer represent you in this matter who possibly get the charges dismissed, etc. might be a better way to go.

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