Self-Representation on Criminal Charges

Representing yourself in a criminal case is probably one of the biggest mistakes a person can make. You do not know the rules. You do not know the procedures. A self-represented defendant is a lamb waiting for the slaughter.

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Representing yourself in criminal cases is a big mistake.

It is even a mistake for attorneys to represent themselves in any case. To paraphrase Abraham Lincoln, a person who represents themselves has a fool for a client. Why is that? Because we are all human. The average non-lawyer citizen does not know the inner workings of the court system, the Rules of Evidence, the laws in general, and courtroom etiquette. When people represent themselves, they tend to talk too much to try to explain and “defend” their actions. Speaking with a prosecutor or openly in court can ultimately lead to saying something that can be used as evidence or gives away a vital defense strategy. When you have a buffer (the lawyer), you have someone standing in the way of you making mistakes and jeopardizing your freedom. Having an objective person handling a criminal charge is vital, whether you have legal training or not. The bottom line is that representing yourself against criminal charges is a terrible mistake.

In the recent unpublished opinion of People v Anthony Lewis McCrory, the Michigan Court of Appeals sent the case back to the trial court for a new trial. The Court of Appeals decided that the trial court did not adequately explain the risks of representing himself to the defendant. There was no determination by the court that the waiver of an attorney was knowingly, voluntarily, and intelligently done. MCR 6.005(D) covers the requirements that a court must follow to determine if a person understands the risks of waiving an attorney. The Court of Appeals determined that the trial court judge did not speak to the defendant regarding the “pitfalls of proceeding to trial without counsel” or review the risks of self-representation. The Court of Appeals reversed the trial judge’s decision.

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Michigan’s premier criminal defense law firm can help you with all your criminal law questions or problems.

The issue of self-representation often comes up in the area of criminal law. People think there is not much to risk, so why spend the money on a well-respected, successful attorney. They think representing themselves in a criminal case is not such a big deal. This thinking could not be more wrong. You must sit down calmly and think about the risks vs. benefits. The risks are possible loss of freedom, intensive probation, excessive fines and costs, and other risks such as job loss, denial of school applications, or mortgages. The ramifications are too numerous to mention. LEWIS & DICKSTEIN, P.L.L.C. understands that money is an issue for most people. Self-representation is penny wise and pound foolish. What you save by not hiring an attorney will likely cost more in the long run.

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Michigan’s Top Criminal Defense Law Firm

The law firm of LEWIS & DICKSTEIN, P.L.L.C. is the premier law firm in Michigan. The firm’s attorneys represent people charged with criminal offenses in state and federal courts all across the United States. The attorneys at LEWIS & DICKSTEIN, P.L.L.C. take their obligation to seriously protect people accused of criminal offenses. The firm’s attorneys are highly experienced, nationally recognized, award-winning, and well respected by their peers, the judiciary, and current and former clients. If you are thinking about representing yourself — you owe it to yourself to speak to the attorneys at LEWIS & DICKSTEIN, P.L.L.C. They will make sure you are protected, and all your rights are protected as well. Before deciding on representing yourself in a criminal case, call us and let us help you determine your options.

Call us today at (248) 263-6800 for a free consultation or complete an online Request for Assistance Form. We will contact you promptly and find a way to help you.

We will find a way to help you and, most importantly,
we are not afraid to win!

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