If I was recently charged with criminal mischief do I need to acquire legal representation?

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If I was recently charged with criminal mischief do I need to acquire legal representation?

I was found in violation of NY state law 145.00 which happens to be “Criminal mischief in the fourth degree and is a Class A misdemeanor.” The incident occurred around 1 am on Friday morning; I tried to enter a college town bar in upstate NY. After being denied entry by the owner, I became a bit upset and as I was leaving kicked open the front door, and in doing so damaged the door. The bar owner proceeded to follow me home. The police stopped and arrested me. Now I have to go to court. I am going to apologize to the owner. Should I speak with a criminal defense attoreny? In Tompkins County, NY.

Asked on February 5, 2011 under Criminal Law, New York

Answers:

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

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

Anytime a criminal charge is involved, it is always advisable to have legal representation.  An experienced criminal law attorney may be able to get the charge dismissed and/or reduced to a non-criminal disposition.  Additionally, if you are a first-time offender you may be eligible for diversion (an alternative form of sentencing); this will leave you with a clean criminal record.  And in this day and age, employers, licensing agencies, and such conduct thorough background checks.  Hire a lawyer that is local to the court in question; they will have contacts within the court system that can be invaluable in this case.

Note:  Diversion is only allowed for first-time offenses, so to the extent that an attorney can get the charge dismissed or obtain an acquittal, it is more to your benefit.  This way if you ever find yourself in such a situation again, a diversion will be available to you at that time since any subsequent charge would constitute a "first" offense.


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