There is an old maxim: “A lawyer who represents himself has a fool for a client.”
You are not required to have a lawyer represent you in court if you are facing DUI charges, but it is highly recommended. You should at least consider having a lawyer look at your case. Massachusetts has some of the strictest DUI laws in the country. Depending on the nature of your case, your punishments could be extremely severe.
In the vast majority of cases, you’ll want to plead “not guilty” and have a lawyer attempt to reduce your charges, have your case dismissed, or prove you innocent. You should definitely contact a lawyer under the following conditions:
- You have a previous DUI or multiple previous DUIs
- The charge occurred as the result of an accident
- Anyone was seriously injured or killed
- You drive as part of your job
- You’re facing possible jail time
- You’re facing a large fine
- You believe your rights were violated during your arrest
- You believe you could be found “not guilty” or could have the case dismissed
Even if none of these situations apply to you and even if you believe you are guilty, you should still work with a DUI lawyer to understand your case before you enter a plea or go to trial.
Can I Face My First Massachusetts DUI Charge Without a Lawyer?
Even if you are facing your very first DUI charge and none of the above applies to you, you should seek legal help to understand your case. There may be defenses you are not yet aware of. If you plead “not guilty” and attempt to argue your case yourself, it will most likely end badly and cause you a great amount of undue stress.
This may sound harsh, but it’s the truth. The legal system is extremely complex and has many procedural requirements that are difficult to understand if you have not studied law. Trying to navigate the legal system on your own while also facing charges will only add to your anxiety. If you work full-time and support a family, preparations alone could take hours away from these important areas of your life.
If you’re facing your first DUI charge in Massachusetts, you are probably nervous about it. That’s completely understandable. It’s a scary position to be in. A lawyer can help you put your mind at ease and explain your options. They can even represent you in court so you don’t have to argue on your own behalf.
What if I Just Plead “Guilty”?
You could face a Massachusetts DUI charge without a lawyer if you intend to plead “guilty”, but it is always a good idea to have a lawyer look at your case before entering any kind of plea other than “not guilty.”. Remember, the government wants you to plead guilty. A “guilty” plea is an automatic conviction. It is extremely difficult to withdraw a “guilty” plea once you have entered it.
It is almost always a bad choice to enter a “guilty” right out of the gate. The prosecutions must prove you guilty. By pleading “guilty,” you give the government what they want and forfeit any chance of a more favorable outcome.
It is always a good idea to consult with a lawyer before facing charges in court. Get a lawyer early so they can walk you through the process. There may be consequences to a conviction that you are not aware of.
For example, some convictions can have consequences for a person’s immigration status or make it illegal for them to own or purchase a firearm. And there are always serious consequences for your driver’s license. Having your license reinstated is a long and difficult process to go through on your own.