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Hiring the best criminal defense lawyer is definitely something you should do first if you are facing with prison time or some other serious criminal penalty. This decision is in your best interest, unless you have financial problems and must deal with court- appointed lawyer. In this situation, you really cannot do much.
There is one thing you should know before you make any move. We live in a world with extremely complex legal system, which means that people hardly can represent themselves and convince jury that they are not guilty. This is more like movie scenario, not something that will happen in reality.

One more thing. It would be the best if you can hire a lawyer who knows local laws and legal procedures and who have experience in work with local community. For example, if you have trial in Lakeport (CA), then you should seek for the Lake County Lawyer. By doing this, you will increase your chances for lighter penalty or even acquittal. These guys are capable to find holes in a charge and present some new evidences that would be invisible for amateurs. We think we were clear about why hiring experience local attorney is the most important thing when you are facing with criminal penalty.
If we are talking about Lake County lawyer, then also should know that their job is not only to represent you in a court, but also to cross- examine all witnesses and lead the whole process. In some situations, trial can be avoided by negotiations, which are known as plea bargains. This legal institute is a very tricky and time-consuming process and requires a lot of knowledge and experience. The thing we want to say is that you cannot do it by yourself. In most cases, plea bargains are not something what prosecutors will usually offer to people who want to defend themselves.
Proposing adequate sentencing program is also what lawyers do. This can be crucial for getting you out of jail earlier than it is said in the verdict. If nothing else, this should be a strong reason why you should consider hiring local lawyer instead of accepting offers from court- appointed one. Of course, it is all up to you and your financial situation.

We will say it once again. Don’t you think that you can do it by yourself. Acting a lawyer and be one is two different things. Reading a bunch of law books is great thing, but it would not be enough when you walk into the courtroom.