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The Disadvantages Of Representing Yourself: Why You Need A Criminal Defense Attorney


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Being charged with a criminal offense can have frightening and devastating impacts on your life. How you address the charges will decide how the rest of your future pans out. 

Many people decide to forgo professional help and represent themselves. Whether you don’t think you can afford to appoint an attorney or you have other reasons you don’t trust a lawyer to represent you in court, acting as your own representation can completely change the course of your life, and it might not be in the way that you’d hoped. 

This blog aims to provide clarity on the disadvantages of representing yourself and identifying several reasons why working with a criminal defense attorney is pivotal in reaching a successful outcome.

The Disadvantages Of Representing Yourself: Why You Need A Criminal Defense Attorney

Consequences Of Criminal Charges

Before we dive into the disadvantages of self-representation, it’s important to understand what you’d be defending yourself against. Some of the long-term implications of criminal conviction include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • Jail time – Depending on the charges against you, you may be facing serving some amount of time in jail.
  • Financial consequences – You could face hefty legal fines, or have difficulty paying for your everyday utilities after job loss.
  • Employment challenges – You could not only lose your current job, but face difficulty finding new employment.
  • Educational opportunities – You could be kicked out of private or vocational schooling, lose scholarships, etc.
  • Reputational damage – You could damage your personal relationships due to the social stigma that surrounds your offense.
  • Loss of civil rights – You could lose certain civil rights like the right to vote or bear arms.
  • And more.

To gain a deeper understanding of these consequences, read our February blog “The Long-Term Consequences Of Criminal Convictions.”

The Disadvantages Of Representing Yourself

Representing yourself is never recommended. Here are some reasons why!

  • Lack of knowledge – The biggest con of representing yourself in a criminal case is the lack of knowledge you have regarding the various aspects of the charge, the court, and the legal procedures involved. Without a thorough understanding of California criminal law, you may struggle to navigate the intricacies involved with clearing your name. Criminal defense attorneys study and go to school for years to earn their accreditation – there is a reason for this! Even attorneys hire other attorneys to represent them if they ever find themselves accused.
  • More potential for mistakes – If you choose to represent yourself, you are responsible for completing all necessary forms, filing the forms with the court according to the deadlines, and presenting your case before the Judge according to proper courtroom procedures (following the rules of evidence and witness testimony, etc.) Because you are not well-practiced in criminal defense law, there is more room for error that could jeopardize your case.
  • You are on your own – While you might view your decision to represent yourself as noble, others might view it as reckless – it will not gain you sympathy. The legal system is complex, and without the help of an experienced criminal defense attorney, you might unintentionally overlook pertinent details. It’s important that you truly understand you’re on your own when you decide not to hire a defense attorney. Neither a judge, nor the court, is going to help you, and if you can’t help yourself, it could increase the likelihood of you being convicted.
  • No one will stop you from saying or doing things that can hurt your case – Being arrested for a crime is an emotional event to go through. It can be easy to allow your emotions to overwhelm you and cloud your best judgment. If you don’t stay calm and keep your emotions in check, you could easily say something that might compromise or jeopardize the result of your case. Typically a lawyer is the person who’d stop that from happening and protect you according to your rights.

Reasons To Hire A Criminal Defense Attorney

If the disadvantages of representing yourself aren’t enough to persuade you to hire a criminal defense attorney, perhaps the following reasons will: 

  • Knowledge – A criminal defense attorney has something you don’t have – knowledge. No, we aren’t saying you aren’t intelligent. Self-representation has been done before successfully; it’s just not the smartest course of action to take. A criminal defense lawyer has extensive knowledge of California criminal law, as well as experience handling criminal cases in the past. Their knowledge can make the difference between years behind bars and a fresh, clean slate. Is that really worth risking?
  • Legal Protection & Strategic Defense – If your case begins to get complicated, and evidence is challenged or legal technicalities arise, an attorney is adept to adjust their legal strategy accordingly, whereas you yourself might be left unsure of how to appropriately change course.
  • Courtroom Representation – An attorney will represent you in the courtroom, advocating on your behalf in front of the judge and jury. They will have more respect than you would on your own. Having a seasoned attorney on your side to fight for your future can take some of the stress and uncertainty off of your shoulders, allowing you to focus on the personal aspects of moving past your mistakes.
  • Emotional Support – In addition to legal support, a criminal defense attorney can be there for you emotionally as well. Even if your attorney gets your charges reduced or dismissed, it can be difficult to pick up the pieces of your life and integrate back into society. A good defense attorney is well-connected to their community, and can offer you access to support groups, job opportunities, and more so that you can get back on your feet.

How Strongest Defense Can Give You An Advantage

If you’ve run into trouble with the law, we want to encourage you to seek professional help immediately. A public defender is available if you cannot afford private representation, but these attorneys have many cases on their plates and won’t be able to offer you the same attention. Your future is worth the investment! Whether you’ve been arrested for DUI, domestic violence, battery, theft, white-collar crime or another criminal offense, time is of the essence. The quicker you enlist help, the quicker you’ll be able to reach a resolution. Don’t allow your future to hang in the balance, call Strongest Defense today to schedule a free consultation with our skilled criminal defense attorney, David Lehr. His 28+ years of experience can give you an advantage in getting your charges reduced or dismissed. Put a strong defense and knowledge on your side – discover your legal options now!