A lot of people wonder whether they can represent themselves in court when charged with a crime. The quick answer is, technically, yes; you can represent yourself in court. The law allows anyone to appear “pro se,” which means “on one’s behalf.” However, though it is legal, that doesn’t mean it’s a smart choice to make, especially if the crime is serious. Learn more reasons why you shouldn’t represent yourself in court.
You Have Limited Resources and Time
If charged with a crime, you’ll have a lot more to deal with than figuring out how to defend yourself. This is especially true if you’re behind bars while you wait for your court dates. You’ll have even less time and less access to resources. It’s incredibly stressful to face criminal charges, and when you try to take on proving your own innocence, you’ll have even more on your plate.
Judges Won’t Always Be Patient
The courtroom is not like what you see on TV. Most judges will not have the patience to slow down and explain things to a pro se defendant. You may think that the courtroom will adjust to your learning curve, but that is not the case. In fact, the rest of the court will do their best to treat you just like any other legal counsel.
You Don’t Have the Connections an Attorney Has
Where a judge won’t show patience to you, there’s the chance a judge would show patience toward a practicing attorney. This falls into the fact that criminal defense attorneys have a lot more connections than you do in the legal world. For example, if you were to walk in the courtroom alone, chances are high that you would have no connection to anyone present. However, an attorney would likely already know some people and be on good terms with most of them.
You Can’t Be Objective About Your Case
One of the biggest reasons why you shouldn’t represent yourself is because you can’t be objective about your own case. Your feelings will cloud your judgment, no matter how much you steel yourself not to let that happen. The prosecutor and judge will say things that may make you want to strike back, and that will not help your case. Because of this, you won’t be able to see the weak points in your case. A defense attorney would make accurate assessments of the various strengths and weaknesses of your case.
You Have a Major Lack of Experience
No matter how much you read on the internet, you did not go to law school. You don’t know the ins and outs of the courtroom, evidence, questioning witnesses, or all that goes into being a successful defense attorney. You have to know and receive an education on a diverse range of subjects and laws to paint yourself in the best light.
You Could Incriminate Yourself
Your lack of knowledge could end up incriminating you. While attempting to plead your case, you may say things that will end up being quite detrimental to your case. Things that you think would support your case may not be a legal defense to the charge and could end up hurting you.
Your Freedom, Reputation, and Safety Are at Stake
Finally, you shouldn’t represent yourself because your freedom, reputation, safety, relationships, and more are all at stake. Depending on the seriousness of the crime, you could be risking fines and time away from work to a prison sentence. So, if you really think about, are you sure you want to risk your own freedom?
Before you think about representing yourself, turn to Jared Justice—a renowned Lake Oswego criminal defense and DUII attorney. He’ll make the best case for you—don’t go at it alone!