Some people choose to represent themselves in their criminal cases. Many often do so because they lack the financial power to hire a criminal defense attorney. Others don’t accept even the free public defender offered by the state, because they believe they can handle themselves.
Whatever the case, representing yourself is a bad idea. According to Weber Law, even if you choose to represent yourself, a judge will only be able to accept your request if you understand what you are getting yourself into. Here is what you should know:
Representing Yourself in a Criminal Case
If you choose to represent yourself in a criminal case, you must be legally competent. A judge will weigh certain factors before granting you the right of self-representation. Some of the things that a judge will analyze are:
- Your age and level of education
- How familiar are you with the English language
- The severity of the crime you are charged with
You don’t need the legal skills of a defense lawyer for self-representation. However, it would be best if you weighed in on the consequences of not doing so. Your right to self-representation can also be denied if you choose this option too late in your case.
You, as the defendant, must give up the right to an attorney knowingly without any interference and understand basic court proceedings. When representing yourself, you must remember that you are on your own.
You must arrive on time for all the hearings and complete your paperwork alone. Nobody at the court can help you out if you can’t do this. Everything that you do can and will be used against you. You must familiarize yourself with court rules and conduits and prepare your case alone.
This also means you must gather witnesses and convince them to testify on your behalf. However, you also should consider what they testify about and how it will affect your case. Apart from this, you also need a strategy of what questions you will ask the witnesses speaking on behalf of the plaintiff. Do you have what it takes to use every opportunity in your favor while abiding by the law and court proceedings?
Should You Represent Yourself?
If you ask any competent legal advisor, they will all say the same. Representing yourself is and always will be a bad idea. Someone who isn’t properly educated in legal proceedings and the law will always be severely disadvantaged compared to someone who seeks the help of a defense lawyer.
A defense lawyer has years of training and experience in dealing with all kinds of cases, even those similar to yours. Representing yourself is more complicated than you think – all the paperwork you have to do, when, and how to do it will consume much of your time.
Being charged with a crime is stressful enough, but representing yourself will add even more stress, all of which will work to your disadvantage. A lawyer knows the court etiquette, and most importantly, they can talk to the opposing party to gauge the weight of the evidence against you.
They know when it’s time for a plea agreement, which is earned only through years of experience. A lawyer can have the charges against you dropped or make it so that you receive lesser punishments. If you represent yourself, you may end up with an even more costly case and severe consequences.