You’ve got a college degree. You are a professional at what you do. You write well. You speak well. With those qualities, you may think of representing yourself in court when what you need is an attorney.
Even more, than the reasons I’ve already mentioned, one of the most prominent reasons is, quite simply, cost. Hiring an attorney can be a costly task, and merely taking the option to represent yourself could seem like an excellent way to save some money.
The idea of representing yourself is even more tempting when you plan to admit to the misdemeanor or felony charge. That fact could make it seem as though an attorney isn’t necessary, as you may feel okay with accepting whatever penalty you receive.
The entire concept of representing yourself is not a good idea, even for a licensed attorney. I can give you many reasons why you should not represent yourself in court, but I’ll give you a few of the most important here.
Attorneys Have Knowledge
First of all, hiring an attorney has some significant benefits that may not be immediately obvious to you. Attorneys have the knowledge and the power to take a penalty handed down to you by a court of law and negotiate it down to something more manageable and less intrusive to your life. It may be difficult to accept this, but an attorney has a better chance of reducing your sentence or even having the charges dropped.
Furthermore, because the law can be like a maze to people who do not know how to navigate it, there may be some rather apparent defenses on the table that you do not even realize. An attorney will know which ones to use, and it may work out in your favor.
Request a Public Defender
If you’re considering the prospect of representing yourself, definitely reconsider and instead think about getting an appointed public defender. Their lawyers tend to get a bad reputation in the courtroom. However, rather than hire an inexpensive exclusive attorney, many times, it is best to accept the counsel of a public defender if you can get one. Not all jurisdictions have a public defender system.
While public defenders are often overworked and frequently have enormous caseloads, they are, for the most part, very competent attorneys who can’t afford to be bad at their jobs due to the oversight of the head district attorney.
Attorney Options are Better
Before you decide to represent yourself, consider all of your options. You can shop around for a good lawyer who is within your price range, or you may be able to go the public defender route. Both of these options are much better than representing yourself. The law is a complicated beast; you will need the help of experienced people to tame it.
An Attorney Can Make a Difference
Extra penalties might not seem like much to someone who is just trying to pay the penalty and move on with their life. But don’t underestimate the good things an attorney can do for you in the courtroom. You could have your sentence lessened or dismissed altogether.
An attorney can make all the difference, but s/he needs the opportunity to do so. Consider your options and choose wisely. But remember that representing yourself is seldom a good option for someone not experienced in the courtroom.