One thing that you should remember before mounting any criminal defense in an American court is this: you're considered innocent until proven guilty. Keep that in mind, and remember that no matter how minor a matter your case seems, you shouldn't treat it as minor at all.
If you can't afford to hire a decent lawyer to head up your criminal defense, you will be appointed a public defender. While many public defenders do very good jobs, some are more interested in getting through the trial than in defending you. Don't hesitate to protest if you believe your appointed lawyer is doing a poor job.