Why Representing Yourself In a Criminal Case Is a Bad Idea

Money makes the world go ’round, and ego makes you too big for your britches. While a criminal trial is expensive, do not allow finances to feed into narcissistic characteristics. If you are not an attorney or some other law professional, why would you want to defend yourself in court? The law is complex and confusing, even for those who practice it regularly. Failure is almost a certainty for a novice, and that misstep can lead to a lengthy prison sentence. There are at least four reasons representing yourself is an awful idea.

  1. Lack of Knowledge

What is your current education level? An attorney must complete a graduate degree in law. They attend three years of law school after completing their undergraduate degree. During their education, they study the intricacies of trial and criminal law. When was the last time you picked up a law book or journal? Do you have a law degree? If not, trust a lawyer.

  1. Lack of Experience

One thing that makes an attorney so valuable is their courtroom experience. Arguing a case is not as simple as standing up and saying you are innocent. You need to gather evidence to support your claim while poking holes in the claims of the prosecutor. This oratorical dance is a skill that takes years of dedication to master.

  1. Lack of Relationships

How often are you in a courthouse? Have you established positive relationships with the people working there? Most people do not spend a lot of time in a courthouse or courtroom, which speaks to their observance of the law. However, the lack of experience means they have not had adequate time to establish relationships. Criminal defense attorneys make a point to build trust and rapport because they know relationships lead to better deals.

  1. Lack of Resources

Beyond money, a defendant needs access to resources they may not have without a law firm. For example, most law firms have access to private investigators, paralegals, expert witnesses, and many other beneficial and informational sources. To build a case from scratch without access to any of these resources is challenging and often cost-prohibitive.

While no one can blame you for entertaining the idea of representing yourself, the reality is, it is irresponsible. Even if you are an attorney, self-representation is egotistical and limiting. Instead, find a criminal lawyer, like a criminal lawyer in Bloomington, IL, to discuss your case with and learn more about the benefits of hiring legal counsel.


Thanks to Pioletti Pioletti & Nichols Attorneys at Law for their insight into some of the main reasons you should not represent yourself in court for a criminal case.