You’ve got a DUI case against you, and you are probably thinking how much money you might save by representing yourself. The law allows you to represent yourself in court through the process known as Pro Se, meaning, “On one’s behalf.” As much as this might be a good idea, you have to also think of the downside of the whole process.
With the many televisions shows, movies, and the internet as a source of information, most people usually think that they can beat the system. What they do not understand is that, in order to beat the system, they have to know the lingo. This is one of the reasons why it is even advisable for lawyers to be represented in cases against them. The least they can do is to help out in coming up with evidence.
Before Representing Yourself
Legal systems understand the downsides of self-representation in a court of law. First, the judge will acknowledge that you have the right to represent yourself in court then proceed to remind you that you can still hire an attorney to represent you. In most cases, they can inform you about the downsides of representing yourself.
Why You Should Not Represent Yourself
Lack of knowledge
The law may seem simple when surfing the internet and learning of possible skills you can use to win your case. However, the truth is that it is more complicated than you may think. Representing yourself is not only arguing your case in a court of law, but you also need to know and understand legal terms, court procedures and what you can do when you lose a case and the grounds you can use for appeal. Navigating courtroom procedures can be a daunting process if you are not trained or experienced, and by experience, I don’t mean reading articles on the internet and watching movies.
Experience is key
Apart from basic knowledge, you also need to have experience of how the courtroom operates. For instance, you need to know about cross-examination and how to go about it. This might be complicated when you are facing an attorney on the opposite side. You need to understand how to argue motions and represent opening and closing statements. If you are disadvantaged in these areas, then your chances of winning a case will be slim even though you might know and understand your case pretty well.
Making incriminating statements
Advocates go through years of training to represent other people who lack skills, experience, and knowledge. Untrained people might attempt pleading their cases, thinking that the evidence they are giving will be in their favor while, in a real sense, they are incriminating themselves. An attorney understands the facts that are needed and what needs not to be said in a courtroom.
Your emotions might cloud solid arguments
People who represent themselves tend to get nervous and start making emotional statements, hoping that throwing themselves at the court’s mercy will help them. Under such extreme pressure, they will forget about attacking the evidence and shift to being defensive, which reduces their effectiveness. Substituting a legal defense will, in most cases, annoy the judge and this can affect your case.
You must know court procedures; judges and court staff will not help you
Learning of court procedures and how they operate requires someone who is experienced and trained. Thinking that the judge will help you in the middle of the case is out of the equation. The best a judge can do is to remind you of your rights. Court clerks, on the other hand always have their hands full, and they are prohibited from filling out forms to enhance case evaluation or strategy.
What is the bottom line?
Lack of an experienced attorney, when you waived such a right, and ignorance of courtroom procedures cannot be grounds for an appeal. Before thinking of representing yourself, you need to weigh your options. If you think that the fees might be too high for you, negotiate with your attorney on the payment terms and possible lowering of the costs. Statistics show that most people who represent themselves will lose their cases and, by the time they realize their mistakes, it’s usually too late. Even in cases where you are found guilty, an attorney might find ways of negotiating for a reduction of your sentence. Before you think of representing yourself, think of the downside first.