Can I represent myself in my criminal case?

Yes, you can choose to represent yourself in a criminal case. However, just because you have the right to represent yourself in court does not mean that it would be a smart decision in your case. Whether you are charged with a misdemeanor, such as reckless driving or DUI, or a more serious felony crime, you protect yourself by hiring a knowledgeable criminal defense lawyer to defend you.

Five Reasons Not to Represent Yourself When Facing Criminal Charges

Lawyer Explaining Paperwork to a Potential ClientOne of the benefits of representing yourself would be to save money. However, the long-term consequences could far outweigh the cost of hiring an attorney. Here are five reasons why representing yourself would be a bad idea:

  • Defenses. You do not have extensive knowledge about the strong defenses you could have to the charges you face. Even if you know you are guilty, you could have defenses, such as violations of your constitutional rights, that could result in the charges against you being dismissed or reduced to a lesser offense.
  • Court procedures and paperwork. If you choose to represent yourself, the court would expect you to file the correct legal paperwork and follow the complicated court procedures in your criminal case. The judge could impose harsh consequences, such as barring you from filing an important motion, if you violate the rules.
  • Prosecutor. You would be at a serious disadvantage representing yourself because the Commonwealth of Virginia would be represented by a prosecutor. They would have extensive knowledge of the criminal laws governing your case and will aggressively prosecute you if you are unrepresented.
  • Plea Bargain. Most criminal cases are resolved through a plea bargain. However, it is unlikely that you would be able to weigh the pros and cons of a plea agreement offered by the prosecutor without the help of a lawyer.
  • Trial. Conducting a criminal trial is much more complicated than the ones you may have seen on television or in movies. You would not have the skill to effectively challenge the state’s evidence, cross-exam their witnesses, or present your own defenses if you represent yourself at your trial.

If you are facing misdemeanor or felony charges in Virginia Beach or Norfolk, our experienced criminal defense lawyers are here to aggressively defend you so that you achieve the best possible outcome given your circumstances. Call our Norfolk office today to schedule your free consultation today.