Criminal defendants have the right to an attorney. However, not everyone thinks they should pay for the attorney. Granted, if you don’t make a good income, you may be able to take advantage of a public defender. Regardless of your situation, if you’re facing criminal charges, you may be thinking about representing yourself. Although this too is your right, here are some reasons why you should talk to a criminal justice lawyer about your situation instead of trying to represent yourself in court.
It’s Your Future
Before you plead guilty to a criminal charge, you need to consider the long-term consequences. There may collateral consequences of which you aren’t aware. A first-time DUI is a misdemeanor, but it can affect your job choices and insurance rates for years. Generally speaking, the bigger the punishment for the crime, the more advised you are to have your own attorney to protect your rights.
It’s Difficult to Understand the Legal Process
Everything that happens after you’ve been arrested can influence your case. When you’re talking to the police, you might say something in anger or sarcasm that is later used against you. Following the pretrial process can be difficult. There are deadlines to meet and documents that must be presented in a timely manner. Your lawyer can help you navigate the process to find the best outcome.
It’s Not Easy to Know the Rules
The legal process isn’t only difficult to navigate, it’s also filled with rules. If you represent yourself, you are expected to know the rules and procedures even though you may not be a lawyer. The court won’t give you a pass because you haven’t been to law school. There are procedures to get evidence dismissed. You need to appear competent before the jury. Your lawyer has experience in everything, which can benefit you.
What’s in Your Best Interest?
It’s thought that it was Abraham Lincoln who said, “A man who represents himself, has a fool for a client.” If you needed a doctor, you wouldn’t try to perform surgery yourself. The law is complex. When you’re facing a severe punishment for criminal charges, you want experience and knowledge on your side.
Representing yourself might seem like a good idea at the time, but you have to think about your long-term goals. Weigh the impact of a year-long jail sentence against your career or missing family events and the cost of hiring a criminal justice lawyer. Talk to a criminal defense attorney in San Francisco, CA about your case before you move forward.
Thanks to The Morales Law Firm for their insight into criminal law and if you should have a lawyer.