Featured News 2020 Should you Represent Yourself in a Criminal Case?

Should You Represent Yourself in a Criminal Case?

When people are arrested or detained, the law demands that they be read their Miranda rights; to give you an idea of how fundamental these rights are, whatever evidence or testimony you provide before being read your Miranda rights won’t be admissible in court. If you’ve watched any crime stories on TV in the last 30 years, you’ve heard the Miranda rights before:

“You have the right to remain silent. Anything you say can be used against you in court. You have the right to talk to a lawyer for advice before we ask you any questions. You have the right to have a lawyer with you during questioning. If you cannot afford a lawyer, one will be appointed for you before any questioning if you wish. If you decide to answer questions now without a lawyer present, you have the right to stop answering at any time.”

The main takeaway here is that your right to an attorney is fundamental to your civil rights. Having an attorney is not a luxury; it’s as necessary as your right to free speech or your right to vote.

Which is why it’s highly inadvisable to represent yourself in court.

Representing yourself means going to trial without a lawyer, doing all of your own research, and coming up with your own defense plan. While this is permissible, it is potentially disastrous. The vast majority of people do not have the training to act as their own lawyer, and one mistake could cost a defendant years of their life or thousands of dollars in fines.

Lawyers have a saying:

“An attorney who represents himself has a fool for a client.”

Consider the reasons why having your own attorney is more cost-effective, affordable, and better for you than representing yourself.

Attorneys Have Resources You Don’t Have Access To

When considering hiring an attorney, here’s something else to keep in mind: attorneys have thousands of hours of relationships within the court system. They know the judges, the clerks, the prosecutors, and everyone else that makes the court system run. They have access to private investigators, valuable witnesses, and other people who you’d never think to call.

Most importantly, defense attorneys have experience. Many of them were public defenders once, or were even former prosecutors. Their knowledge of the system is as invaluable as their knowledge of the law. This isn’t knowledge anyone can generate with a few hours in the law library; this is knowledge that’s only learned through years of defending clients and handling cases.

And while hiring an attorney might seem like an enormous expense, consider this: when it comes to defense attorneys, you often get what you pay for. Even so, hiring a lawyer isn’t necessarily a life-changing expense. Many defense lawyers have flat fees or payment plans that make representation more affordable for anyone.

Because Even “Small Crimes” Upend Your Entire Life

Even a misdemeanor charge can change everything.

A few nights in jail, an arraignment, and other court appointments have led to lost jobs, thousands in expenses, and other financial losses most people can’t afford. And if you lose your case? A misdemeanor may mean a few months in jail, even more fines, and a higher likelihood of a harsher sentence in the future.

Doesn’t it make sense to have someone on your side who can handle some of this for you? Who can help you navigate it without setting yourself up to fail?

That’s why we recommend hiring an attorney even for the ‘small’ cases. Frankly, there are no small cases. Every criminal charge is a potential disaster waiting to happen, and your attorney is the only one who can defuse it safely. They know how harshly the local judges will handle your case, or how the prosecutor will likely build a case against you. In some cases, an attorney may be able to get your case dismissed entirely, saving you months of time and stress.

Not Convinced? Get a Free Consultation.

Most defense lawyers offer a free consultation. In these free consultations, you can discuss what happened to you, and an attorney can go over your legal options. They can also describe what they would do to move your case forward. These consultations are risk-free, come with no strings, and might give you more hope about your case than you had before.

So, even if you’re dead-set on representing yourself, why not call an attorney for a free consultation? You’d have nothing to lose, and at the very least you’ll end up hearing what your legal options are.

Find a criminal defense attorney on our site today—call them and ask if they provide free consultations. You owe it to yourself to seek experienced representation.

Related News:

Define the Law: Grand Theft Auto

It was a sunny spring day, right before finals. A college senior with the initials M.M. was working on an end-of-term paper in a Starbucks in Santa Clarita, California. As she busied herself with her ...
Read More »

Define the Law: Harassment

A charge of harassment can cover any number of offenses, such as cyberbullying, hate crimes, and stalking. Harassment is any action that is purposefully meant to bother, goad, intimidate, or dismay ...
Read More »

DNA Evidence: How it Works

20 million viewers tune in to watch each episode of CSI: Crime Scene Investigation, making it one of TV's greatest hits. Much of the allure of this high intensity crime show is the forensics, ...
Read More »