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The Pitfalls of Going Pro Se (As Your Own Attorney)

a scale of justice sits on a wooden table in a courtroom

Are you charged with a crime in St. Petersburg? Are you thinking of representing yourself in court? In the United States, you certainly have the right to pro se representation—that is, arguing on your own behalf. However, understand the many risks of going through the criminal justice process without an experienced attorney.

Here are some of the pitfalls faced by pro se litigants.

Lack of Legal Education and Training

The average person does not possess a working knowledge of the legal system, and may struggle to learn even where to begin the process of mounting an effective defense. This is not a knock on your education or intelligence, but rather a statement of fact: The legal process is large and complex, and lawyers spend years in school and then in the real world learning them. You need to follow many rules and requirements. As a pro se defendant, the court will hold you to the same standards as it would a professional lawyer—without the benefit of the same education, training, and experience.

Attorneys spend numerous years in school, and many more years undergoing the continuing training necessary to understand the various procedures that the court expects people to follow and the techniques necessary to provide an effective legal defense.

Lack of Time

The legal process in a criminal case can take many months to complete. During that time, pro se litigants must effectively defend their own rights during the investigation, argue on their own behalf when it comes to bail, depose witnesses, gather evidence, attend hearings, make court filings, negotiate with the prosecution, and perhaps even file an appeal after the case is over. In addition to all of these activities, most defendants have jobs to do and lives to live. A lack of time to appropriately fight your case can result in dire consequences that may damage your finances, your freedom, and your reputation.

Working with an attorney, however, means you have a legal advocate ready to spend the time it takes to ensure the best possible outcome for you.

Failure to Protect Your Rights

As a defendant in a criminal case, you have numerous rights. Do you know what they are and how to protect them? An attorney not only knows what rights you have, but also the numerous ways the authorities can violate your rights as a criminal defendant—and how to keep that from happening.

Negotiating With Strangers (Who Happen to Be Lawyers)

Negotiation is an important aspect of providing a sound defense in a criminal case. It can mean the difference between jail time or freedom, or it can mean a reduction in charges or sometimes even a dismissal of the case. As a pro se defendant, you must negotiate with experienced prosecutors.

A criminal defense attorney not only understands and exercises the art of skillful negotiation, but likely knows the people with whom these negotiations will take place. An attorney devotes time and dedication to developing a reputation among peers as a fair and knowledgeable negotiator. This can work in your favor when it comes time to sit across the table from those who are looking to prosecute you.

A Better Idea—Call Khonsari Law Group for Professional Representation

Yes, you do have the right to defend yourself. People do it every day, and for a number of reasons. Big risks and potentially serious consequences come along that path.

There is a better idea when it comes to a St. Petersburg criminal defense: The attorneys at Khonsari Law Group have the experience and resources to provide their clients with the highest quality of legal counsel and representation. We look forward to meeting with you for a free initial consultation to discuss the details of your case. Contact Khonsari Law Group online today, or call us at (727) 269-5300 to schedule your consultation.

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