You have been accused and charged with a crime. You express your innocence, but you feel every attorney you speak to is judgmental and has already decided you are guilty. Instead of hiring an experienced criminal defense lawyer, you decide that maybe it is in your best interest to represent yourself. After all, you are the only one who believes in your innocence, right? Wrong. First, a defense attorney doesn’t need to believe in your innocence to fight for you. Second, even if you are innocent, you should be more concerned with finding an experienced attorney. Finally, it is never a good idea to represent yourself in a criminal trial for several reasons.
Lack of Knowledge
How many years did you attend law school? Criminal law is a complex subject that requires years of dedication to master the basics. An experienced attorney is the best-qualified person to argue your defense. They will know the details of the law, case precedence and any loopholes that could be beneficial to your case. Also, in the off chance that you are an attorney, it is still not a good idea to argue your own case because of the chance of emotional outbursts.
Lack of Experience
Similar to knowledge and education, experience is also essential to a successful defense. Finding a criminal defense attorney with years of trial experience can benefit your case tremendously. You might be arguing that you have experience in a courtroom, but what is that experience? Did you fight a traffic ticket, or argue a civil matter? If so, neither situation is remotely equivalent to arguing a criminal case, especially as the defendant.
Lack of Existing Relationships
An experienced criminal defense lawyer also has the benefit of working alongside prosecutors and judges. While these relationships will not and should not lead to any unethical practices, knowing these individuals can lead to productive plea negotiations. Also, a familiarity with judges can help you avoid judges that are especially harsh when it comes to sentencing for specific charges.
Lack of Awareness
Arguing a criminal case involves balancing deadlines, witness prep and several other delicate issues. If you are not familiar with all phases of a criminal trial, then you would be doing yourself a tremendous disservice to represent yourself. Let someone who understands the intricacies of the process take the reins.
While you might be feeling like self-representation is the best path forward at the moment, don’t forget to take an honest look at your skills to identify what is lacking. Contact a licensed and practiced attorney, like a criminal defense attorney in San Francisco, CA from the Morales Law Firm, to discuss your case.