Most people that decide to represent themselves in criminal cases are afraid to spend money assuming private attorneys are just too expensive. While this is true, sometimes it is just not necessary to hire an attorney at all. Depending on the extremity of the case and the possible punishment that is attached to the criminal offense, you may not even need a lawyer. However, if the punishment is extreme, it is not wise to go at it alone in the courtroom.
While the cost of an attorney may be the main reason someone does not hire a lawyer, it is not the only reason an individual may choose to represent themselves instead. An individual may decide on self-representation for several reasons, such as:
- Pleading guilty to a charge whose punishment will not change.
- Bad or poor experience with an attorney in the past.
- Social beliefs that no matter if they are a public defender or private hire, their ultimate goal is to oppress them.
- Being somewhat self-taught or educated on the law.
- If pleading not guilty, or if innocent an individual having a clearer understanding of the details of the incident, they may feel there is no way they can be convicted based on the “facts” alone.
In some cases, representing yourself is not a bad idea at all, just so long as the crime is not severe. Charges such as infractions, that often are only punishable by fines or community service, an individual may choose to represent themselves. Infractions, which do not lead to jail time, are traffic violations or petty theft/shoplifting.
If you decide to represent yourself in court, it is best to understand the worse case scenario, and the (realistically speaking) best scenario. By understanding what you are likely to be sentenced to, you can either decide it is not so bad or decide you may need an attorney to put in the extra fight for you.
Criminal defense attorneys typically charge nothing to give consultations by phone or in their office. If you are considering representing yourself, before making a final decision, speak with a Decatur criminal lawyer that may be better at explaining your options to you. Some attorneys do not “need” the extra money and will not convince you to hire an attorney if it is unnecessary. Just be sure to do as much research as possible before making a seemingly small decision that can potentially change your life forever.
Thanks to Andrew R. Lynch, P.C. for their insight into criminal defense and self-representation.