With all of the crime dramas on television, you may think you know enough about the criminal justice system to successfully defend yourself in court. While many people do choose this route, it is never a good idea. After all, would you prefer an experienced doctor to perform your surgery, or someone who has watched a few too many episodes of ER?
When your freedom is on the line, you need an experienced criminal defense attorney to fight on your behalf. You need someone who knows the law and understands the intricacies of the courtroom. Chances are, that person is not you.
Why Some Defendants Choose to Represent Themselves
Even though securing counsel for your case is recommended, defendants do still choose to defend themselves in their criminal cases. In fact, Americans have had these rights since the late 1700s. The 6th Amendment to the United States Constitution guaranteed certain rights for criminal defendants, including the right to a speedy trial, an impartial jury, a public trial and an attorney. The Judiciary Act of 1789 guaranteed defendants the right to represent themselves in federal courts. So, there is certainly a precedent for self-representation in our legal system.
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Why would someone choose to fight on their own behalf?
- The desire to avoid the expense of an attorney, especially for crimes in which the punishment may be minimal.
- For those who are pleading guilty and already know the sentence, they recognize that an attorney will not be beneficial.
- Some defendants believe that they understand the law pertaining to their case, and they know their case better than any lawyer.
- Other defendants do not trust lawyers or the legal system.
- Defendants may receive special privileges when representing themselves, such as access to the law library or other means to research their case.
4 Reasons You Should Not Represent Yourself in Court
Despite these reasons, conventional advice dictates that representing yourself in a criminal case is not in your best interest. Just because you have the right to do so, does not mean you should. And when you are facing serious felony charges that can come with jail time, why would you want to chance it? Below, we have identified the top 4 reasons why you should hire a defense attorney to represent you in your San Diego criminal case.
You do not have adequate knowledge of the law.
Defense attorneys spend years in school and in courtrooms honing their crafts. Seasoned attorneys have taken many cases similar to yours in the past so they have a working understanding of the law pertaining to your case. It is hard to make up for that level of experience by reading a few law books on your own and watching episodes of Law and Order. Entering a courtroom unprepared and lacking knowledge of your case can result in devastating consequences.
You do not have adequate knowledge of court procedures.
Courtrooms do not run like they do on television. There are certain procedures that must be followed in a court of law that you may not be privy to without the proper education and experience. In addition to the procedures, there are mounds of paperwork that must be completed throughout a court case. The paperwork must be filled in completely and in a timely manner. If there are errors, you may experience significant delays in your case or worse, a conviction.
The prosecution will have legal representation.
When you represent yourself in court, you have to understand that you will be facing a very experienced district attorney. This attorney will have extensive knowledge of the law and experience in the courtroom. For most self-represented defendants, the district attorney will be a strong and challenging opponent.
Your judge may have little tolerance for your inexperience.
Judges are serious professionals who are very busy. Although you may hope that they will cut you some slack in the courtroom, this is unlikely the case. Your inexperience will show and most judges will not be very lenient with you. Frustrating the judge with your lack of knowledge can work against you in court.
Retain a Criminal Defense Lawyer in San Diego
Although self-representation is an option for San Diego defendants, your lack of knowledge of the law and experience in the courtroom can work against you. When your freedom, job and reputation is on the line, you should make sure that you have the best possible legal representation at your side.
If you are looking for a reputable, experienced criminal defense attorney in the San Diego area, contact the Law Office of Joni Eisenstein today for your free consultation. Joni Eisenstein will discuss the details of your case with you and help you understand your legal options.
If you are on the fence about hiring a defense attorney, stop thinking about it, and do it now
Hiring a criminal defense attorney like Joni Eisenstein can help you go from a place of uncertainty to freedom.