Do I have to represent myself in a criminal case?

When you find yourself embroiled in a criminal case, it’s human to feel that you are the best way out. However, in most cases this is not reasonable. According to the judicial law of 1789, an accused has the right to represent himself. The Supreme Court formally ruled on self-representation in 1975, but there are still limits to the law.

Reasons why self-advocacy is not ideal in a criminal case

The rights of an accused are protected by the Sixth Amendment to the United States Constitution, which guarantees a fair and equitable process for the accused. One of the most important rights for any accused is the right to a lawyer.

If an individual is charged with a crime and cannot afford a lawyer, the state will appoint one. All of these efforts are aimed at ensuring that an accused has a chance to have a fair trial.

Therefore, self-advocacy is not a very good idea. Here are a few reasons why you’d better hire a criminal defense lawyer for your case that you do not represent yourself.

The rules are constant whether you are a lawyer or not

There’s a reason lawyers have to attend law school for years and pass the bar to qualify. To someone who has no legal knowledge, the courtroom can look like a giant maze.

In addition, the rules and regulations will not change to accommodate your lack of legal knowledge. When you choose to go this route, the court expects you to do your due diligence and be familiar with courtroom procedures.

You must base your arguments on specific sections of the law to have any chance of winning your case. When you don’t know the law, self-advocacy is a sure way to get a conviction.

The pre-trial process is demanding and delicate

Most people think that self-advocacy begins in court during the trial. They don’t know that there is a lot of work to be done before they can present their case. Dealing with other parties within the justice system, such as the police, requires tact and skill to maneuver.

If you’re not careful, you could incriminate yourself and seal your fate even before the trial begins. A great criminal defense lawyer has done the job a few times before, which means he knows what to expect from the police and other parties. The lawyer can do all the pre-trial tasks for you and give you the space and time to work on your testimony.

Your charges may turn into more serious charges during the trial

Criminal charges are classified into two: misdemeanors and felonies. The misdemeanor covers minor misdemeanors punishable by a fine of up to $ 1,000 and one year or less in prison. On the other hand, the crimes are more serious charges with a heavy fine and a longer prison term.

Anything could happen during the trial. The prosecution could present a new key witness or present more overwhelming evidence that could change your charges from a minor misdemeanor charge to a felony.

With an experienced criminal lawyer, you can get ahead of the prosecution and present a more compelling case to influence the jury. Most people choose self-advocacy because the charges are not serious, but as you have seen that can change at any time.


Hiring a criminal defense attorney to represent you in a case is your best chance of acquittal, or the best possible deal. Don’t risk your freedom and your future with self-advocacy. Once you are convicted of a crime, even the best criminal defense lawyers cannot help clear your name if you go down this route. Prevent damage by having a good criminal defense lawyer handle your case.

Interesting related article: “The Criminal Case Review Process”