If I have been charged with 3rd degree retail fraud, should get a court appointed lawyer or not?

I am 19 with no criminal record (not even a traffic ticket) and was very compliant with all authority. My court case is next Wednesday and I’m not sure whether or not I need an attorney for this. I do not have a lot of money and the courts said they can’t even give me an estimate for how much it would be for one. I don’t if I should spend money that I don’t have for a lawyer if I’m obviously guilty. Also, I don’t have a record and am under 21 so I’m eligible for diversion anyway. Basically, there is no fight (I am guilty and will not face jail time) so what could be won be by hiring an attorney?

Asked on July 16, 2015 under Criminal Law, Michigan


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

Answered 5 years ago | Contributor

First of all, in order to be to get a court appointed attorney, you have to meet eligibilty requirements. You may not qualify and your offense may not qualify.

Either way, you should consider getting an attorney. Experienced defense counsel may get the charge thrown out on a technicality, etc. If they do, then you will qualify as a first-time offender should you ever get into trouble in the future. And diversion is typically only a first-time offender program. After that you can face steep fines and jail. Additionally, you will be left with a criminal history record.

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