If you are facing criminal charges, it may seem daunting to figure out how to handle the case. Finding legal representation is the first and perhaps most critical step to ensuring your case goes forward in the best way possible for you.
You may feel temptation to skip this step and represent yourself. Self-representation may seem like a simple solution to your legal needs, but it rarely – if at all – is as effective as having the help of a trained and experienced attorney. If you are worried about the cost or time constraints of finding legal counsel, know that you can find a qualified attorney without sacrificing your finances.
Both state and federal law allow self-representation. The Illinois Attorney Act of 1839 stipulates only a licensed lawyer can represent another person in court, but individuals may choose to represent themselves if so inclined. However, just because self-representation is a possibility does not make it the best decision for your legal strategy.
Why doesn’t it work?
What is it about self-representation that could add difficulty to your case? The main reason is that the court system typically does not include a simplistic process. Litigants who choose to represent themselves may not know or have an easy means to know what a judge expects from pre-trial and trial proceedings.
Without the training of a formal law education, a litigant is unlikely to know the necessary elements of courtroom conduct. How to enter evidence, how to question a witness, how to write and file a motion; these skills are not easily picked up by a plaintiff or defendant.
Know your worth in a criminal proceeding
Resources exist for self-represented litigants, but no list of information can substitute for a trained legal expert. The best thing you can do for yourself in a criminal case is to give yourself the best chance to reach a desired outcome. No lawyer is guaranteed to get you the result you want, but every lawyer is ethically and legally bound to do everything in their power to try.
Finding a lawyer with a proven track-record of success will provide you the best chance of successfully arguing your case. You have a right to proper legal counsel and should not disregard that option lightly. Self-representation is a valid legal option, but it should by no means be an option chosen out of fear or exasperation.