The Supreme Court held in Faretta v. California, 422 U.S. 806 (1975) that the Sixth Amendment guarantees a defendant the right to represent himself. The defendant must knowingly and intelligently waive his right to counsel and, under some circumstances, the trial court may deny a defendant's pursuit of exercising it. For example, a trial judge may deny a defendant the authority to exercise his right to defend himself when he is not competent to make a knowing or intelligent waiver of his right to counsel, or when his self-representation disrupts court proceedings as normal.
Make no mistake, it is never a good idea to defend yourself in a court of law. As the old English proverb says: "A man who is his own lawyer has a fool for a client." In a court of law, parties are subject to the rules of evidence, expected to abide by proper courtroom etiquette, and are often worse off in the eyes of a jury by virtue of a defendant representing themselves.
If you ever find yourself charged with a crime, speak with a lawyer immediately. Speaking with an attorney allows you to best weigh your options and make an informed decision of the best way to move forward. Here are 3 reasons why you should never represent yourself in a criminal court at law:
1. The Jury may not Trust You
When fighting your case in front of a jury, it is important to give off the illusion of an un-biased look at the evidence. This is not possible if the person being charged with the offense is also the person attacking the evidence in court. The moment you choose to try and defend yourself in court is also the moment you lose credibility with the jury.
One of the many benefits of having an attorney fight for you in court is that he or she can relate to the jury in a way that the accused cannot. The attorney and the jury can relate because it is not the attorney, nor any one of the jurors, who are being accused of the charged offense. That means that in the attorney's presentation, they can offer to the jury what looks to be an un-biased opinion and argument. Make no mistake, your attorney will not be un-biased. Your attorney has a duty to zealously advocate on your behalf no matter the facts of your case. However, their presence provides the illusion of an un-biased opinion, and sits better with the jury during deliberation.
2. Frustrating the Court with Delay
When you enter a court at law, you are required to abide by the rules of evidence, follow courtroom procedure, and maintain proper courtroom etiquette. Lawyers are trained to comply with these requirements and put their skills to use every single day. Another benefit of having an attorney fight for you in court is his or her ability to comply with courtroom procedure and efficiently argue your case. This not only keeps your defense organized, but it keeps from frustrating the court with unnecessary delay. For example, even the most beginner of lawyers know when and how to argue motions, when and how to object, and when and how to address the court.
When you decide to represent yourself in court, you subject yourself to the same rules as lawyers-- and you are expected to follow them. The court's primary concerns when conducting a jury trial are fairness and efficiency. If you are unfamiliar with courtroom procedure, and the rule of law, you are sure to cause delay in the court room. This will not only frustrate the judge, but it will also make you look less credible in front of the jury.
3. Lack of Access to Resources
Do not forget the monster you are up against. The District Attorney's office has experienced attorneys that go to trial every day-- they know the rules of the court and speak with the judge every day. They also have an entire division of appellate lawyers ready on standby to help them with research and arguments to the judge. The DA office has unlimited resources available to take you down in court, going up against them alone is never a good idea.
When you have counsel at your side, you are equipped with experience and know-how. With an experienced criminal defense attorney, you have access to thorough case-law research, courtroom experience, and someone fight on your behalf against the DA office. It is never a good idea to represent yourself in court, lack of access to resources is likely the most compelling reason not to fight your case alone.
Call Us-- (281) 868-VELA (8352)
If you have been charged with a crime in Texas, call our office immediately. We will talk you through your case and discuss the options with you. We offer a comprehensive defense plan and have an in-house investigation team to fight for you at trial. It is never in your best interest to fight your case at trial by yourself. Let us help. Call our office day or night.
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