When involved in a criminal case, you will eventually have to choose between either having an attorney at your side or representing yourself. If you do choose to represent yourself (appear “pro se”), then you will have much more work ahead of you than just arguing your case. For starters, you will have to answer dozens of prescribed questions before you can convince a judge that he or she is required to let you represent yourself. Pro se defendants complicate the process for judges. They will be looking for a way to force you to pay for an attorney. And a “bargain” priced attorney is usually just looking to convince you to plead guilty so that they do not have to put in the time and effort required to beat the government. Here are some of the additional obstacles that you would need to overcome before representing yourself in court.
You need to know the court process for your hearing.
The judge in your case will have limited patience in walking you through the required procedures. You will need to understand all of the processes involved. Some of these include: filing the proper paperwork, selecting jurors, questioning a witness, reviewing evidence presented by the prosecutor, objecting to the prosecution’s questions, and a plethora of others. Note that most lawyers do not even know how to introduce an exhibit into evidence because most lawyers have very little courtroom experience when it comes to contesting the government’s case. The process is difficult. Even if you have evidence that clears you of all wrongdoing, it is worthless without an understanding of the applicable Rules of Evidence. Without that understanding, you will not be able to introduce your proofs into evidence.
You need to fully understand the law you are accused of breaking and the history of it.
Do you understand how this law came to be? Were there significant Supreme Court cases on the issue? Was the law changed recently due to a similar case on the matter? You will need to know the answer to all of these questions before even considering self-representation. The history and minute details of the law along with the relevant facts of your case and how you present them will determine whether or not you are convicted.
You will need to present your case in a better fashion than an experienced lawyer.
As a “pro se” defendant, you will more than likely face a prosecuting attorney with years of experience and expertise. Even if you do take the time to completely familiarize yourself with the court processes and the law in question, you will still face this obstacle. No amount of research or time that you dedicate to the case will neutralize the knowledge of the law and intangibles possessed by a veteran attorney. Additionally, if your attorney makes a significant mistake at trial, you can have your conviction overturned later at at post-conviction relief (PCR) hearing. When you go “pro se”, you waive your right to a PCR hearing and are forced to live with any mistakes that you make.
Call An Experienced, Monmouth and Ocean County Criminal Attorney
Representing yourself is not a decision to take lightly and you must fully understand the risks before doing so. Call Fred Sisto today at 732-898-3232 to have an experienced professional on your side during this complicated process.