Should I Represent Myself in a Criminal Case?

The Sixth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution guarantees the right to legal counsel in criminal cases. That means you can hire a private attorney or have a public defender represent you during the trial. However, you can waive this right and choose self-representation, which courts call “pro se.” Although you can attempt to handle your case on your own, doing so could have profound effects on the outcome of the trial.

Preparing for Trial

Handling a criminal case requires much preparation. You must bring your witnesses and evidence, and be ready to present them in your case. Gathering relevant papers and documents requires attending to the smallest of details and organizing information to be able to deliver a compelling argument at trial.

With other events going on in your life, this time-consuming process may be challenging to manage. An attorney dedicates their time to preparing for legal matters. They have the resources and know-how to conduct thorough research, gather necessary information, and meet deadlines.

Following Court Guidelines

Trials are formal processes, and as such, each court has specific guidelines you must follow when taking care of legal matters within (and even outside) their walls. All courts will have rules for what to wear at trial and how to talk to judges, witnesses, staff, and others involved in your case. For example, you cannot speak with the judge on your own. Meaning, if you pass the judge in the hallway, you cannot stop them and discuss your case. This guideline is in place as a safeguard for both sides, ensuring one person does not attempt to unduly influence the outcome of a case.

If you choose to represent yourself, you may not be aware of the various rules you must follow. Overstepping your bounds could result in costly consequences. On the other hand, a lawyer has experience handling numerous types of cases and is familiar with the rules of the court.

During the Trial

Throughout the trial, the prosecutor, judge, and others may use specialized legal language when referring to specific processes. Not knowing what is being said, could make it difficult to competently move through the proceedings.

You must also follow certain rules when presenting evidence or questioning witnesses. For example, you cannot submit a statement made outside the court by someone not testifying in the case. This is known as hearsay evidence and is not generally permitted because the person who made the statement cannot be questioned about it.

Additionally, when you are questioning your own witness, you must make sure you do not ask leading questions – asking in a way that suggests what the answer will be. Such practice could lead to the item being thrown out.

Having an attorney on your side could help as you move through the court proceedings. They have studied and practiced handling legal matters and can adeptly take on your case. They know how to present evidence that is relevant and authentic and challenge the prosecutor’s case against you.

Schedule a Free, Confidential Case Evaluation with Andrew Farmer Law

Our attorney is an experienced trial lawyer and knows how to handle various legal matters, from theft to federal crimes. We are dedicated to providing tenacious legal representation to individuals facing criminal charges. Understanding that your freedom and future are at stake, we will comb through every detail of your case to develop an innovative strategy to fight the accusations made against you.

For the personalized and aggressive defense you need, call us at (865) 205-2637 or contact us online.