Do I Need a Lawyer?

I am facing a misdemeanor in Indiana do I need to get an attorney? When you’ve been arrested or accused criminally in the Indianapolis metro area, no question is more important for you to answer. Facing criminal charges, even a misdemeanor, is no laughing matter.

Do I Need a Lawyer for a Misdemeanor in Indiana? (317) 969-8000

If convicted of a misdemeanor the penalties can impact your life forever and include; imprisonment, probation, court costs, financially crippling fines, furthermore, a conviction can endanger your driver’s license, employment and educational opportunities, and your standing in the community.

Even with the dangers that exist when facing criminal charges, numerous individuals elect not to hire a lawyer, particularly when the facing a misdemeanor. Why don’t most people hire a misdemeanor lawyer? I believe that it is due to mistaken beliefs and poor advice.

A lot of people who choose not to hire an attorney say, “I don’t have the money for an attorney,” “There’s nothing I can do, I’m guilty,” “It doesn’t really matter. It’s just a misdemeanor. They won’t do anything to me.”

I Don’t Have the Money for an Misdemeanor Attorney

The number one reason that criminal defendants do not hire an attorney is the mistaken belief that they cannot afford a lawyer. Hiring an attorney is no different than hiring anyone else in a service industry like a plumber, a housecleaner, or a boy to mow your lawn. Some charge more, some less.

While certain attorneys charge high fees to defend a misdemeanor, most attorneys charge a more reasonable rates and offer payment plans which most people can afford. Most people moan and gripe that they cannot afford an attorney but never go to the trouble of even looking.

Don’t be afraid to call around to a number of misdemeanor lawyers and ask directly about fees. These are common calls for all attorneys, so if they won’t give you a rough estimate of the total cost, or if he tries to charge you a consultation fee, simply move on to the next attorney on your list.

Several calls later, you should have a good idea of how much your case will cost and whether or not you can afford an attorney.

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I’m Guilty, So There’s Nothing That a Misdemeanor Attorney Can Do For Me

You know the saying, “You are innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.” In practice, there are numerous explanations of why you may be “not guilty” and without even knowing it.

Because of the presumption of innocence the State must present evidence to prove criminal charges beyond a reasonable doubt. It is not your burden, it is the prosecution’s burden and you are “not guilty” if they cannot meet that burden.

  • Was there a constitutional violation of your rights? Were you entitled to have your case dismissed, or to suppress evidence key to the prosecution’s case?
  • Did the prosecution prove every element of the crime charged? If not, then there was no crime committed.
  • Is your conduct justified or excusable due to an affirmative defense?

Furthermore, even with no viable defenses it is possible that you may be eligible for a pre-trial intervention or diversion program. Perhaps your attorney can persuade the prosecutor to dismiss the charge(s) or negotiate a more lenient sentence. If you have violated the terms of your probation, perhaps your attorney can persuade your probation officer recommend reinstatement of your probation?

The truth is: the perception by you and your community that you are “guilty” does not mean that you have no options. In fact, unless you are represented by a reputable criminal defense attorney you will not know which options might best protect your rights.

“It’s just a misdemeanor. It doesn’t really matter.”

The notion that “it’s just a misdemeanor” can cause significant long term damage to defendants who elect not to hire an attorney. It is only later when that person is unable to gain employment, government benefits, professional licensure, or even admission to a university that he comprehends the vast mistake that he has made. One mistake resulting in a criminal conviction will follow you for your lifetime and is never helpful.

Speak With an Attorney BEFORE Pleading to the Following Charges

If you face criminal charges you should immediately seek out a lawyer in order to completely appreciate all of your legal alternatives and the probable penalties of your choices during the legal process. Every single day pro se defendants in the Indianapolis area plead guilty to criminal charges that are highly defendable or extremely challenging for the prosecution to prove.

No matter what you do, never plead to the following crimes. Speak to an attorney first.

  • Worthless Check – it is a crime of dishonesty not that different than the crime of theft. It will hurt you when you look for a job. The bright side, generally misdemeanor prosecutors are unable to prove the charge. Your future does not have to be destroyed, call an attorney;
  • Expired Tag – It is not uncommon to find a prosecutor who does not know how to prove it;
  • Plate Not Assigned/Attaching Tag - It is not uncommon to find a prosecutor who does not know how to prove it;
  • Misdemeanor Battery – A frequently triable charge that is generally highly defendable.
  • Misdemeanor Assault – Generally highly defendable;
  • Racing on Highway – Often difficult for the State to prove. You’ll likely lose your license if you plead.
  • Disorderly Conduct - Generally highly defendable;
  • Loitering – Often difficult for the State to prove, vulnerable to motions to suppress.
  • Filing a False Police Report – Generally difficult for the State to prove. That is unless you admit that it was false.
  • Disorderly Intoxication – lots of defenses

Any criminal charge, whether a felony or a misdemeanor, is serious. You face grave consequences to both your immediate and long-term prospects if convicted. Protect yourself while you can. If you have been accused of a crime in Lebanon, Zionsville, Carmel, Westfield, Noblesville, Indianapolis, Boone, Hendricks, Hamilton, Marion County or elsewhere in Central Indiana, contact an Indianapolis Criminal Attorney for a free consultation.

Hiring a Criminal Defense Lawyer

Former Judge of the Whitestown Town Court, Attorney Emerson explains what to look for when considering a criminal defense attorney.

Criminal Penalties in Indiana

From Felonies to Misdemeanors we will explain the possible legal consequences associated with each criminal charge.

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How an Attorney Can Help

The State must prove it's case beyond a reasonable doubt.  Your attorney's job is to challenge the State's evidence.  Learn how an attorney can help with the use of Subpoena's and Depositions.


Whether you are contemplating divorce, or been arrested or injured you are probably scared, unsure what will come next and what to do.  Give me a call. We will sit down, go over your options and work to find a way to move forward. Call me or another attorney. But call someone and get the help you deserve.

- JR Emerson, Attorney

I am here to help. I am not here to judge. For nearly 20 years I have been helping people in difficult situations and I would be happy to speak with you to see how I might be able to help you too.

- Jill Bracken-Emerson, Attorney


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About Us

Our office is located on the north side of Indianapolis at 98th Street and Keystone Avenue.

3091 E. 98th Street, Suite 180

Indianapolis, IN 46280

Phone: 1-317-969-8000


Our Services

Our attorneys represent people in need of assistance with personal injuries, car accidents, divorce, family law and DUI/OVWI matters.  Our clients typically live in counties throughout central Indiana including, Hamilton County, Boone County, Marion County, Hendricks County and Johnson County.  Please contact our office to learn how we can help.

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The laws governing legal advertising in the state of Indiana require the following statement in any publication of this kind: Advertising Material. This website is designed for general information only. The information presented at this site should not be construed to be formal legal advice, nor the formation of a lawyer/client relationship.

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JR Emerson is an attorney who represents men and women in family law matters including divorce, child custody modification, and child support modification in Marion County, Hendricks County, Boone County, Hamilton County, Hancock County, Madison County, Johnson County. Cities in which he practices include: Zionsville, Lebanon, Whitestown, Carmel, West Clay, Westfield, Noblesville, Fishers, Lawrence, Beech Grove, Speedway, Greenwood, Southport, Franklin, Plainfield, Avon and Danville, Indiana.