Should I represent myself in a criminal case?

When you get yourself tied up in a criminal case, it is human to feel like you are the best shot at getting out of it. However, in most cases, that is not reasonable. According to the Judiciary Act of 1789, a criminal defendant has a right to self-representation. The Supreme Court officially ruled on self-representation in 1975, but there are still limitations to the law.

Reasons Why Self-representation is Not Ideal in a Criminal Case

A criminal defendant’s rights are protected by the Sixth Amendment to the US Constitution, which guarantees a just and fair process for the defendant. One of the most important rights for any defendant is the right to an attorney.

If an individual is accused of a crime and they cannot afford an attorney, the state will appoint them one. All that effort goes to ensure a defendant gets a chance at a fair trial.

Therefore, self-representation is not a very good idea. Below are some reasons why you are better off hiring a criminal defense lawyer for your case than you are representing yourself.

Rules are Constant Whether You are a Lawyer or Not

There is a reason why lawyers have to go to law school for years and pass the bar to qualify. For someone without legal knowledge, the courtroom might seem like one giant maze.

Also, the rules and regulations won’t change to accommodate your lack of legal knowledge. When you choose to go down that road, the court expects you to do your due diligence and know your way around the proceedings of a courtroom.

You have to back your arguments with accurate sections of the law to stand a chance at winning your case. When you do not know the law, self-representation is a sure way of getting yourself a conviction.

The Pre-trial Process is Tasking and Tricky

Most people think that self-representation starts in court at the trial. They do not know that there is much work to be done before they can present their case. Dealing with other parties within the justice system, like the police, requires tact and skill to maneuver.

If you are not careful, you could self-incriminate and seal your fate even before the trial begins. An excellent criminal defense lawyer has done the job multiple times before, meaning he knows what to expect from the police and other parties.Criminal lawyers can do all the tasking pre-trial processes for you and give you space and time to work on your testimony.

Your Charges Can Morph into More Serious Charges Within the Trial

Criminal charges are classified into two: Misdemeanors and Felonies. Misdemeanor covers the minor crimes that attract a fine of up to $1000 and one year or less in jail. On the other hand, felonies are more serious charges with a hefty fine and a longer time in prison.

Anything could happen during the trial. The prosecution could introduce a new key witness or present more damning 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 sway the jury. Most people choose self-representation because the charges are not severe, but as you have seen, that could change any minute.


Hiring a criminal defense lawyer to represent you in a case is your best chance at acquittal or the best deal possible. Do not risk your freedom and future with self-representation. Once you are convicted of a crime, not even the top criminal defense attorneys can help clear your name if you go down that road. Prevent the damage by having a good criminal defense lawyer take up your case.

Interesting Related Article: “The Process of Going Through a Criminal Case