There are many people who are charged with crimes who do not bother to get an attorney. There are certain petty or strict liability crimes such as speeding tickets, parking tickets, window-tint violations, etc. where someone would probably not need an attorney. Most strict liability crimes—crimes where once you are caught, you are immediately given a punishment (ticket)—are not complex, and can be handled by yourself. However, for the more complex and serious crimes, having a lawyer on your side to advocate on your behalf is extremely beneficial.
What is Pro Se?
"Pro se" means that you are representing yourself in your court proceeding. Many people do this and sometimes have success in the court systems. As stated above, if you are caught speeding, and you are consequently given a ticket, you almost always have the choice to dispute the violation of the law in court. Most of the time, people just pay the fine and then they go on their way back to normal life. Others, who believe they have been wronged or wrongfully charged, want to challenge the ticket in traffic or municipal court. For these types of violations, representing yourself is not such a bad idea. Hiring an attorney in this situation would probably not be worth your money or time. However, when you're dealing with more complicated and severe crimes, it's not a good idea to go "pro se."
Why It's Not a Good Idea
Attorneys can be very beneficial to you and your defense. Unless you're a trained person who went to law school or its equivalent, representing yourself can be very troublesome. Dealing with the intricacies of the criminal justice system, not to mention all the legalese (lawyer language), can be very stressful and confusing. Additionally, there are many procedural rules for pre-trials, trials, and the like that non-lawyers might not be aware of or even understand. If you were in a pre-trial evidentiary hearing, and you were representing yourself (pro se), and you tried to admit a piece of evidence—just then, the Prosecutor starts talking about stare decisis, a 403 analysis, hearsay objections, and maybe a 404b argument. You cannot ask the judge to hold on a minute or two while you quickly Google these terms on your smartphone—that's the quickest way to make the judge irritated, and give the court another reason to question why you chose to represent yourself pro-se. This is not a good position to be in—don't let this happen to you.
What Should I Do?
You should always consult an attorney first, and then determine if you need professional representation for your criminal situation. The Meranda Law Firm, LTD. can help and assist you in this process, and be your advocate all along the way. We can explain all those impossible terms, speak up for you in court, help you understand all the motions, rules, and procedure of the court, and give you the best representation for the your money. Give us a call and feel rest assured that you have someone on your side that truly understands your wants and needs.