Should I Represent Myself In A Criminal Matter?
Should I Represent Myself In A Criminal Matter?

Most Likely NOT!

It would be wonderful if we all had lawyers that we could fully trust!

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When your freedom is at stake, make damn sure you get good legal advice from someone experienced in criminal matters.

People, many times, find public defenders maddening because they are usually doing cases on a mass production basis, are rushed and can't spend a lot of time on you. Some claim they don't even see their public defender until the last minute and the conversation is rushed. Stories abound of people firing their lawyer due to this.

Even paid lawyers can be maddening to many with people feeling they are not really fighting their case. You may want an issue raised and your lawyer will say, "That won't fly, I won't do it." Your lawyer may be right or he might be afraid to tackle a difficult issue like police, prosecutorial and/or judicial misconduct. Criminal cases are scary, emotions are running high and legal process is an entrenched track.

AT BEST, if you decide to represent yourself, state clearly you want the lawyer to be on a stand by basis so he remains present to alert you to any catastrophic errors you might make.

We have seen some that tell the court they want to be Pro se with the lawyer standing by only to raise one issue that the Defendant feels is vital to their case that the lawyer refuses to raise. Once they see how that issue goes, they return to being represented.

NEVER be afraid to halt proceedings stating you do not feel you are being adequately represented, your lawyer mis-states or doesn't state something you need stated correctly or you no longer understand what is going on or what is being said. Don't let the legal train move unless you are on it and clear as to what is happening.

Courts love conferences in chambers or at the bench. Make damn sure you are either there or, at best, COMPLETELY informed of what was said at these conferences. Ask what was said! After your lawyer explains it to you, consider stating, "Your Honor, I was just told what was said or agreed to without my being present was....(state YOUR understanding). Is my understanding in line with the court on this?" THEY have YOUR life in THEIR hands. Never forget that and be assertive.

See Plea Bargains - Deal Or No Deal? and other related articles on The Pro se Way or


Many times the reason or purpose for events in our life initially escapes us,
but I am certain we can find reason and/or purpose in everything that happens!

It takes a short time to learn to exercise power, but a lifetime to learn how to avoid abusing it.

We are no longer a country of laws, we are a country where laws are "creatively interpreted."

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