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Why Representing Yourself in Criminal Court is a Bad Idea

o you’re a big fan of all those law dramas both on the big and small screens. After years of watching actors in perfectly-tailored suits argue cases for their clients in the most dramatic and thrilling fashion, you believe you’ve seen enough to know about the law and court procedures. With everything you’ve “learned” from these legal dramas, you are confident that you can ably represent yourself should you become the subject of a legal investigation or get charged with a crime.

The confidence is admirable, but representing yourself in a criminal court without the help of an experienced criminal defense lawyer is a very bad idea. Here are some of the reasons why:

You don’t have extensive knowledge of the law and court procedures

Contrary to what you believe, watching legal dramas will never supply you with the legal expertise required to argue your case in court with any degree of competence. Criminal defense attorneys spend interminable years studying the law in law school and later in court. They train to become extremely familiar with all court procedures. What you see in law dramas are just that: drama. Real-life cases need a little more than that. The fact that even lawyers who are facing criminal charges hire other lawyers to represent them in court should drive that point home.

The other party will likely have a lawyer

If you’re facing a criminal charge, you will be going up against a district attorney who will naturally know more about the law compared to yourself. Things certainly wouldn’t be looking good for you.

Consider the paperwork and the rules

Any legal case, criminal or otherwise, requires a mountain of paperwork. There is also a laundry list of rules that govern the processing and the submission of these documents. One missing page or one missed deadline could spell the difference between conviction and acquittal. Criminal defense attorneys know this stuff, but you probably don’t.

Judges won’t tolerate your lack of legal knowledge

You probably know very little about the law, and it will show in court. Some judges may treat you with a little tolerance, but most judges probably won’t. And you know what will happen if you get on a judge’s bad side. In contrast, the opposing party would have a lawyer familiar with the law, legal procedures, and with the presiding judge.

There could be civil cases where self-representation somehow works, but it is incredibly rare in criminal cases. If you are charged with a crime, your best bet would not be yourself, but an experienced criminal defense attorney. To know what a good criminal defense lawyer can do for you, check out the infographic below.

Infographic provided by AZ Criminal Law Team


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