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Why You Should Not Represent Yourself in Court

Posted on Monday, June 22nd, 2015    

If you have decided you want to represent yourself in court and forego the knowledge and expertise of an experienced attorney, you may be putting your future and finances in jeopardy. Although you think not hiring an attorney may save you money and give you a sense of pride, everyday tons of people face more jail time and/or fines (that they otherwise may have avoided or lessened) for trying to represent themselves in court. Often, people will ask the question of “do you think my case is something that I can handle myself?” This question is one that would never be asked of a physician, electrician or auto mechanic, but for some reason is often asked of attorneys. Here is a list of reasons why you should hire an expert attorney rather than try to take the reins on your case alone:

  • There is no cushion between you and the court. If you choose to represent yourself, you play the official roles of client and lawyer. With that said, you will be speaking directly to the judge and/or jury with no one there to help you. In the courtroom, things can get heated and often clients can take it personally and say things that do not help their case. However, hiring a lawyer can create a wonderful buffer. Attorneys are skilled at avoiding conflict between you and the judge and/or jury. This allows you not to worry about certain aspects of the courtroom and saying something rude or irrational that may upset or offend your judge and/or jury.
  • You may not have the time or resources to build up your case. You may not necessarily possess the time (especially if you already have a job!), disposition, knowledge or resources to properly prepare for your trial. To represent yourself, you will need to learn about your local laws, how the courtroom works, arrange the necessary paperwork, find essential evidence for your case, and prepare indispensable witnesses in order to prove your innocence. On average, experienced attorneys have a ratio of about twenty five hours preparing for a trial for every one hour of actual trial time. If you did not go to law school, it is safe to assume you can add about ten to fifteen hours of time to that to allow proper research of your local laws and how the courtroom and justice system can work in your favor.
  • It is highly possible you cannot negotiate a plea deal. Without a knowledgeable, qualified and skilled attorney standing by your side in court, it is hard to see all aspects of the outcome of your case. It is incredibly likely that you absolutely will not be able to negotiate a plea deal. What does this mean for you? No negotiations means you will be trapped with whatever outcome the court decides. With a practiced attorney on your team, you have a much greater chance of having your fines or sentencing reduced or even abolished.

Representing yourself in court may seem like the best decision financially or otherwise. However, if you make even the tiniest of mistakes, it will not just be embarrassing, but it can cost you more money than you would have spent on an attorney and more importantly- it may also cost you your freedom.

Call our Sacramento Attorneys at (916) 419-1111 today to get the correct representation for your case.

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