If you’ve been charged with a crime, you may be tempted to represent yourself in court. But while you have a legal right to represent yourself, it’s never a good idea. Here are 10 reasons it isn’t a good idea to defend yourself if you face criminal charges.
1) You Only Get One Arraignment
You might think you’ll hire a lawyer after your arraignment, but it’s important to have representation at the arraignment to ensure that you get bail granted, and in a reasonable amount.
2) You Won’t Impress the Judge
The judge won’t be inclined to look favorably on your inexpert interpretation of statutory and case law.
3) There’s a Lot of Paperwork Involved in a Court Case
You’re most likely ill-equipped to stay on top of the many documents you’ll need to file, and the many deadlines involved.
4) It Will Take Even Longer Than Usual to Get Your Case Heard
As a pro se defendant, you won’t be given priority in the busy court system. This means that your case will take even longer than it otherwise would, costing you time at work and with your family.
5) You Don’t Have the Connections an Attorney Has
You’ll go into the courtroom to represent yourself having never met the judge, the other attorney, or the bailiffs in the courtroom. An attorney would already know, and be on good terms, with most of these people.
6) You Can’t Be Objective About Your Case
You’re too close to your case to look at it objectively. An attorney can take the necessary step back to look at your case objectively, and make more accurate assessments of its strengths and weaknesses. This leads to better defense strategy, and your best shot at a good result.
7) You’ve Never Interviewed Testifying Witnesses
You have never conducted a deposition. You do not know how to effectively conduct witness interviews, from deposition all the way to direct and cross examinations at trial. You don’t know how to impeach a lying witness, or how to properly convey the inconsistencies to the jury. You may not know the best questions to ask, or what order to most effectively ask them in.
8) You Don’t Know the Rules of Evidence
The rules of evidence are very complex. Lawyers spend a good deal of time in law school learning these complicated rules, and how and when they each apply. They know which evidence is most helpful legally – which is not always the same as what a lay-person would assume is important. You have no idea when to object to something the prosecutor says or does – as this is also a skill that is honed in law school and then through years of practice. And maybe even most importantly, you don’t know when, how, or why to object to evidence that the prosecution is attempting to admit into evidence. The judge will not do any of this for you – since you chose to represent yourself. Ultimately, you may find yourself in quite the quagmire during motions or trial – with no help available.
9) You’ve Never Presented Opening and Closing Arguments
That means you won’t know how to present your case in the best possible light. You may argue “from the heart”, but those arguments may not matter much legally. A good defense attorney will know what points to emphasize that will legally win the day – all while arguing with passion and conviction for your cause.
10) There Are Some Things You Just Shouldn’t Do Yourself
You wouldn’t cut your own hair or set your own broken leg, because there are some things that require the assistance of a professional. Going to court is right at the top of the list as far as things you should never do for yourself.
Disclaimer: This Article Is Not Legal Advice.
Never rely on an article for legal advice as the law frequently changes, information may not be accurate, there may be exceptions to a rule, and reliance may be detrimental. Always consult one of our experienced attorneys for competent, current, and accurate legal advice.
Experienced Attorneys Can Help with Your Criminal Defense
If you are facing criminal charges, don’t represent yourself. Hire an experienced and qualified attorney to help you reach the best possible conclusion to your case. An experienced criminal defense attorney at Crooks, Low & Connell, S.C. may be able to help you defend yourself against the charges, get lesser penalties, or get the charges dismissed altogether.
To schedule a consultation with one of our attorneys, call our offices in Wausau, WI at (715) 842-2291 or complete our online contact form today.