7 Reasons Why You Shouldn’t Represent Yourself in A Court Case
Every person arrested and charged with a crime has the right to legal counsel. They also have the right to defend themselves. The right to self-representation in court is one that is little known and seldom used. If you are thinking of representing yourself in an upcoming court case, there are good reasons for you not to do so.
Lack of knowledge: The law is about much more than gathering evidence or challenging facts that may be against you. In a court room trial, the law includes procedure. This governs the way that trials are conducted. It takes years of study, mentorship, and first-hand experience for professional attorneys to learn, understand, and competently follow the rules of procedure in a court room. Most judges are scrupulous in their enforcement of such rules. If you don’t know the rules of procedure, you cannot even get your defense off the ground. In fact, you may make an error that puts you in contempt of court, at which point you will be fined or thrown into jail.
Lack of experience: Not even lawyers who have been through law school and passed their Bar exam can try a case without sitting and observing more experienced attorneys in action. Experience counts. Part of successfully trying a case is knowing how to assess witnesses and read juries. Trial experience also familiarizes you with judges. You learn their biases, irritations, and other inclinations. This is not something you can get by coming to the practice of law cold.
Danger of self-incrimination: Even if you are representing yourself, anything you say or do can still be used against you by the prosecution. Your lack of knowledge and experience may lead you to say something that hurts your case.
Lack of investigatory prowess: Investigation is one of the most important parts of mounting a solid legal defense. Most criminal defense firms have robust investigation resources. They will put their in-house private investigators to work to find evidence that helps their clients. You will be without such resources and will be limited only to the evidence presented by the prosecution. Even if you vigorously challenge this evidence, it may not be enough without witnesses and facts of your own.
Emotion: Your freedom is on the line, which will put you under enormous pressure. The fact that you are defending yourself will prompt the prosecutor to get under your skin, make you angry, and get you to say something that will harm your case.
No help from the judge: The judge will not help you during the case. If you violate the rules of procedure, the opposing attorney will point it out and the judge will sustain their objections. No matter how tied up and frustrated you get, it will be up to you to act in accordance with the law. You will also receive no help from court clerks and staff when filling out forms.
Little chance of winning: If you decide to go up against a seasoned prosecutor, you have little chance of winning. You need to have the best criminal defense lawyer in Philadelphia. Contact us today to request a free case evaluation.