After being charged with a criminal offense, you might think to yourself, “I’m going to navigate the criminal justice system alone. After all, I’m innocent and know my case better than anyone.” Well, you may be concerned about the financial responsibility that comes with hiring a reputable attorney. However, the effects of not having a lawyer by your side can be more significant. Here is why you shouldn’t legally represent yourself in court.
1- You Don’t Know the Legal Jargon
Just because you can compile convincing evidence for your claim doesn’t mean you have the expertise to represent yourself in court successfully. The legal field is complicated, and to navigate the court process, one must have an in-depth understanding of the laws and rules of evidence surrounding their case. Remember, the court often holds self-represented litigants to the same standards as qualified lawyers. Woe to you if you don’t have the requisite knowledge to argue your case, as your chance of winning is slim.
2- You Are Too Emotionally Invested
Representing yourself in court means you are emotionally invested in the case, and this is risky on many levels. Nearly everyone gets defensive and upset when accused, and your plaintiff’s attorney may use this to get into your skin, prompting you to be emotional – defensive, angry, and upset. These credibility blunders may affect the outcome of your case.
3- You Can’t See Other Perspectives
Can you be both the attorney and client of your case and still be content with the outcome, especially if the court doesn’t rule in your favor? Wanting to be in good books with the law can get you locked into your perspective that you fail to understand the opposing side’s perspective or even the court’s ruling. Litigants representing themselves tend to feel treated unfairly after losing a case. This is because they are unable to detach their emotions from the case. However, a lawyer can help you have a more rational perspective.
4- You Could Incriminate Yourself
The court treats self-representation litigants as experts with sufficient knowledge to represent themselves. This places you at a disadvantage if you are not well-versed in what to say and not to say when defending yourself in court. You may end up making incriminating statements while thinking you are helping your case.
5- You Don’t Have the Experience
Being familiar with legal procedures does not make you the best advocate for your case. To achieve a favorable outcome, you need to be able to assess witnesses, present your evidence, argue motions, know when to object to evidence, and so forth. You will unlikely present your case in the best way possible without the proper knowledge of law, training, and trial experience, meaning you need extensive years of exposure to the field and courtroom.
6- You Don’t Have the Legal Connections Needed to Prepare the Case
Pro Se representation will save you money but won’t give you the best chance of success. During the case, you will have to fill in some documents and send them to the court, with deadlines to be met. Keeping track of all these requirements without a legal advisor (attorney) on your side can be challenging. Remember, there are rules and regulations to be followed when processing legal documents, and not knowing these ins and outs can jeopardize your case’s outcome.
It’s said “A man who represents himself has a fool for a lawyer.” So whether you are innocent or guilty of the crime you’ve been accused of, never represent yourself in court. You may have the evidence necessary to win your case, but without an experienced lawyer, your fight will likely be unsuccessful.