Dealing with criminal charges and having to pay for legal representation can be very frustrating, and many people do this on their own every day. A free public defender may not put forth the effort an individual may feel they need, and private attorneys just may be too expensive at such short notice. Fortunately, not every case requires an attorney and you are fully able to represent yourself, if you are capable. It is not wise to represent yourself just because you do not have the means to pay for an attorney, but in some cases it is fine.
There are several reasons outside of financial burdens that an individual may decide to represent him or herself in court, such as:
- Guaranteed punishment or consequences no matter how you plea.
- Paid attorneys in the past have not done a good job.
- Fear that the attorneys work for the government and regardless if paid or not, they do not work in their favor but for a greater agenda.
- Understanding the law enough to simply know how to defend his or herself properly in court.
While it may not be common, representing yourself is not entirely a bad idea when the charges or overall case is not extreme. Your freedom and criminal record is not something to take lightly so if you decide to represent yourself, understand what it is that you are actually doing. Infractions may be simple to challenge or discuss in court, as they are usually only punishable by fines and are not so serious that you should pay an attorney more than you would to simply pay fines.
The smartest way to determine if you should represent yourself in court is by understanding what the worse case scenario may be and being prepared to challenge that to the best of your ability. If you do not think you can challenge the worse case scenario successfully, you should not represent yourself in court.
Consultations are usually free with criminal defense attorneys; before you make your final decision, speak with a criminal defense attorney about your case and your idea to represent yourself. The right attorneys will advice you honestly and tell you whether or not you should hire them or anyone else. Contact a Decatur criminal lawyer as soon as possible to weigh out every option before you decide this can save you the time, money, and potential time behind bars.
Thanks to Andrew R. Lynch, P.C. for their insight into criminal law and representing yourself.