I get this question a lot. People give my office a call and wonder if they need a lawyer in Orleans Parish Municipal Court. Please note that this post applies not just to Orleans Parish Municipal Court, but also to Jefferson Parish First/Second Parish Court and any other local court of limited jurisdiction that handles municipal and/or misdemeanor offenses.
There are many benefits to having a lawyer in Municipal Court. First, if your lawyer knows what he or she is doing, said lawyer should be able to set it up so that the client does not have to appear in court. This is not always true, and there may be some situations where the lawyer's hands are tied but it is a good general rule. It's also a good thing for out-of towners to know. Second, lawyers experienced in Municipal Court can often get their clients' cases dismissed outright. This is almost never going to happen to a person that does not have a lawyer. Third, it is important to note that Municipal Court offenses can go on one's "permanent record," and can be extremely embarrassing if they show up in a background check. Who wants to have a "lewd conduct" charge show up when they are trying to get a new job?!? I can, and often have, gotten such charges dismissed, which at the very least can give the client some plausible deniability. Finally, if the client is so inclined, a lawyer who spends a great deal of time in Municipal Court can help with the expungement process. This can be very important to clients who have been arrested for embarrassing charges, such as lewd conduct (see above).
If I may be so bold as to answer my question, you do not NEED a lawyer in Municipal Court (or any other court for that matter). But hiring a lawyer could save you the expense and time of coming to court, can often result in the dismissal of charges, and can help streamline the expungement process if that is a concern.
If you have been given a municipal summons or arrested for a municipal offense, you need a lawyer who is experienced in Municipal Court. You need the Law Office of Alex Kriksciun.