Getting accused of a crime can be an extremely devastating thing. In many cases, you might get judged in the “court of public opinion” long before you ever have a trial. More than one person has lost friends and become estranged from family just because they were falsely accused of breaking the law. In many cases, the best thing you can do is to find a qualified and competent criminal defense attorney who can then help you to prove your innocence and clear your name.
The problem is that it can be tough to get a good criminal defense attorney. In many areas, the local public defender just doesn’t have the experience or the resources available to him that may be needed to argue your case. Hiring a criminal defense attorney who does have experience and resources may be outside of your budget.
While you’re almost always better off with a criminal defense attorney, the fact remains that you have the option of defending yourself. Here are some things to consider when you are thinking about acting as your own criminal defense attorney:
- It’s your right to represent yourself in any court case. It’s known as “acting pro se,” which means acting “for yourself.”
- There are some instances, such as family court or courts involving property rental issues, in which the courts have created user-friendly forms to help folks acting pro se. This is much less common in criminal cases, however.
- Even if you do decide to act pro se, you should consider at least consulting a criminal defense attorney. The attorney can offer you the benefits of experience and knowledge that you may lack. Some attorneys offer relatively low-cost consultations.
- Even if you do act as your own criminal defense attorney, you’re bound by the same rules as attorneys. You’ll need to consult your state’s rules regarding the courts’ rules.
- You can get information on your case from a court clerk, but they cannot give you any legal advice such as helping you choose between specific options.
- The law librarians at the local courthouse may be able to assist you in finding legal research, or how to find an historical case or a necessary form.