Why would you NOT talk to a criminal defense lawyer?
The better question is why would you not talk to a lawyer when you are charged with a criminal offense? First, most Pennsylvania criminal defense lawyers offer free consultations, so it will not cost you anything to have an experienced Centre County criminal defense attorney review your case. Second, while the officer may have been nice and offered to assist you with your criminal charges, you must remember that the officer's primary role in the criminal process is to assist the district attorney with the prosecution of the charges against YOU. This is not to say that the officer intends to mislead, this simply means that the officer's primary function is prosecution of the charges and NOT trying to obtain the best resolution for you. If the officer was really that "nice" and focused on your best interests, then why did the officer file criminal charges as opposed to just issuing a warning?
A defense lawyer's role in the criminal process is to protect your interests and try to obtain the best resolution possible. It simply does not make sense that a person would take legal advice from the prosecution team as opposed to the criminal defense team. In some cases, police officers make mistakes and violate a criminal suspect's constitutional rights or violate the rules of criminal procedure, and the mistakes of the officer may lead to the suppression of evidence or dismissal of charges. Also, while the officers are generally familiar with the ARD program, many officers do not know the details of the program. Many officers do not know the tendencies of the district attorney and thereby do not know whether or not a criminal suspect will be approved for ARD. Additionally, the officers often do not know the finer details of the program. Therefore, officers often give advice about the ARD program that simply isn't accurate. There is a reason that non-lawyers are not supposed to give legal advice. You should obtain legal advice from an experienced criminal defense lawyer such Centre County DUI attorney Jason S. Dunkle at JD Law in State College at 814-954-1094.
Many people question whether or not they should hire an attorney to provide representation for a criminal matter is the case is going to be resolved via participation in the ARD program. While an ARD disposition is not a difficult case for an experienced criminal defense attorney, it is a new and unknown process for most people unfamiliar with the criminal system. The old adage that ignorance of the law is not an excuse is applicable here. The failure to follow the rules associated with ARD at any point during the process may prevent admission into the program or inhibit successful completion of the ARD program. Failure to complete the program will often prohibit the criminal charges from being expunged and may even result in the person's removal from the ARD program. If a person is removed from ARD, the district attorney thereafter resumes prosecution of the charges. It is easier and generally more cost effective to hire an attorney to handle a criminal case properly at the beginning instead of hiring one to try and rectify a problem after the fact.