Should I Represent Myself in a Criminal Case?

According to the 6th Amendment of the United States Constitution, you have the right to represent yourself in the court of law. Whether or not you should is an entirely separate issue.

There are a variety of reasons why someone would want to represent themselves in court. However, one should be very cautious before making this choice and should think about it realistically.

It is widely considered a wiser idea to hire an attorney rather than represent oneself.

Cases When Defendants Represent Themselves

There are a lot of cases where people go to court and don’t hire an attorney and, frankly, probably never even thought at all to hire one. A lot of times these are minor traffic or shoplifting offenses.

Sometimes when there are disputes between landlords and tenants the tenants will show up to court without a lawyer, and instead with all of their documents.

Determining Competency

Generally, it is advised not to represent yourself, though there are some cases where people can. In order to do so, they have to prove competency.

The judge considers the defendant’s age, fluency in English and ability to express themselves, level of education and what the severity of the charge is. The judge may also consider whether or not the defendant demonstrates a solid understanding of the nature of the offense they are being accused of.

If a defendant sounds like they have an inflated sense of their own abilities or a lack of understanding of how the law works, then the judge will probably not find the defendant competent to represent themselves.

Conduct a Self-Assessment

Before you decide to represent yourself you have to be honest about who you really are. There is a lot more to the case than simply finding the right lawyer to defend you.

Are you ready to put in the number of hours of research necessary? Do you have access to the technology necessary to complete this research, as well as compile it and keep it organized? Do you usually meet deadlines, or turn things in late? How easily do you express your thoughts and opinions? Do you have the capacity to write a sound and valid argument, or are you better at bickering?

Be honest about your discipline level and your public speaking abilities.

While it may feel great to save money and bring your own victory in court, the truth is that there are a lot of hours of behind-the-scenes work that goes into a case.

You should also consider how you handle stress and perform under pressure.

If you have any doubts then it is not worth risking going to court without a lawyer.

Value Trade-Off

A lot of times people are looking to save money because they think that they can read enough online to compare to the years of studying and experience a lawyer has.

What you may save on not hiring a lawyer you may pay in additional fines or harsher consequences for your own offenses.

Sometimes a case seems like it will be straightforward and minor, but It’s wiser to avoid these risks to your future by hiring an experienced and successful attorney, such as the ones you will find at Law Office of Hernandez & Hamilton, PC in Tucson, AZ. Call them to schedule your consultation so you can find out how they can help you in court.

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