Five Reasons Not to Defend Yourself Pro Se

If you have been arrested by the police for allegedly committing a crime, you may believe you can handle things by yourself. You may feel there is no point in getting a lawyer, or that it is too expensive, so representing yourself pro se (without a lawyer) is a good idea. However, you may find that without a lawyer, you will have a much harder time defending yourself against criminal charges. Here are five reasons you should not try to defend yourself pro se:

  1. You probably do not know the law
    • Unless you are a lawyer with criminal defense experience, chances are that your knowledge of criminal law is pretty limited. While almost everyone has at least some basic understanding of the law, that kind of basic understanding is probably not going to be enough to help you if you have been arrested. A significant part of a lawyer’s job is to inform you about the law, which they cannot do unless you hire them.
  2. You probably do not know your options
    • Not knowing the law already puts you at a pretty significant disadvantage when you try to represent yourself pro se. What makes things worse is that you do not understand the options available to you in a criminal proceeding, limiting your ability to defend yourself. You may lose valuable opportunities to protect your own rights simply because you did not know they existed in the first place.
  3. Information on the internet is unreliable
    • Some people believe they can substitute their lack of legal education with information they locate on the internet. Unfortunately, the information that exists online is often unreliable or incomplete, and in some cases may be flatly wrong. Trying to rely on information you find online can substantially hamper your pro se defense, and is more likely to just anger the judge rather than help your case.
  4. You probably do not know the consequences of your choices
    • There are more consequences to criminal charges and convictions than most people realize until it is far too late. For example, certain types of government benefits or grants may be off limits to a criminal convict, and legal immigrants could find their immigration status endangered by certain types of criminal convictions. Representing yourself pro se may mean you find yourself suffering from numerous consequences from your case that you could have seen coming, if only you had a lawyer to warn you.
  5. You already have enough to worry about
    • Putting everything else aside, you have more than enough to worry about already if you are facing criminal charges. A significant part of a lawyer’s job is to worry about your case for you, so you can focus on the other aspects of your life. Rather than representing yourself pro se and trying to juggle your other responsibilities at the same time, you should hire a lawyer with knowledge of criminal law who can advise you on your best course of action.

If you or someone you know has been arrested for a criminal offense, you will need legal counsel to help you preserve your rights and work to get the best possible outcome for your matter. A New York criminal defense lawyer, who is experienced in handling criminal cases of all sorts, can advise you of your legal rights and will fight for your best interests in court. If you or your loved one has been arrested, contact the Suffolk County criminal defense attorneys at McGuire, Peláez and Bennett at (631) 348-1702.

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