Should You Try to Represent Yourself in Court?
You may have heard of people representing themselves when charged with crimes such as misdemeanors or felonies. You may have even seen examples of defendants representing themselves on TV or in the movies. You may be left wondering if this is a good idea.
It is true that an individual can represent his or herself successfully in certain low-risk legal situations such as small claims court. However, the stakes are much higher in criminal cases. Thousands of dollars, hundreds of hours of community service, simple freedoms such as the ability to drive a car, or even years spent in prison could be at stake. While lawyers are sometimes costly, you should always be keeping your best interest in mind.
For example, in most states, the charge of drunk driving can come with a number of very stiff penalties. These penalties can include a suspended license, hefty fines, and even long jail sentences.
As in other cases, you can probably try to represent yourself in court. However, a DUI lawyer will have much more experience in how to properly navigate the court proceedings to give you the best result. You may assume for instance that you will more than likely have to spend at least some time behind bars if you are convicted of drunk driving.
The lawyer, however, knows that this isn’t necessarily the case. With a first drunk driving conviction, a driver may be given a jail sentence. However, if the defendant behaves in certain ways, this sentence can be suspended. If the jail sentence is suspended, the defendant will not have to spend any time behind bars. Instead, he or she will simply have to obey court rules during a probationary period.
To get such a good deal from the judge, a defendant may have to do certain things that a layperson may not be aware of that an experienced criminal lawyer will be. For example, a DUI lawyer may know that if the defendant enrolls in an alcohol rehabilitation program before the court orders him to do so the judge may look very favorably upon this when sentencing. Actions such as this that an experienced criminal attorney will know about are the kinds of things that can result in reduced sentences and keeping someone out of jail.
Specialized knowledge is also something that is integral to producing the best outcome for someone charged with a crime. The lawyer you hire may be very experienced in the legal system of the area in which you live. He or she, for example, may know how the judge will react to certain things.
They will know what the best approach to the case would be when the case will be tried with a jury made up of individuals from a certain community. This is the kind of knowledge you can not learn from reading up on the law in a library or on the internet. For these reasons and more, it is always a very wise decision to hire a lawyer to represent you in criminal court.