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Tampa Criminal Lawyer > Blog > Criminal > Representing Yourself In Criminal Court Is A Terrible Idea

Representing Yourself In Criminal Court Is A Terrible Idea


Like any true Floridian worthy of the name, you do not trust the government.  Why, then, would you place the fate of your criminal case in the hands of a public defender assigned to your case by the court, one whose meager salary is paid by taxpayers?  Isn’t a court battle between two public sector employees, a prosecutor and a public defender, just a charade?  Everyone knows that the lawyers and the selected jurors have made up their minds that you are guilty before they set foot in the courtroom, and when it’s all over and you get hauled off to prison, the prosecutor and the public defender are going to go to a bar and spend their meager, taxpayer-funded paychecks buying each other rounds of drinks and laughing about all the other defendants that they have already agreed are toast.  As a defendant in a criminal case, you have too much at stake to take such a cynical attitude; you also have Constitutional rights.  If the thought of having a public defender represent you in court scares you, contact a Tampa criminal defense lawyer.

You Have the Right to Represent Yourself in Criminal Court, but You Probably Shouldn’t

The Sixth Amendment to the United States Constitution grants defendants in criminal cases the right to representation by an attorney.  It also gives them the right to represent themselves, as long as the court determines that the defendant is competent to choose to waive the right to representation by a lawyer.  Representing yourself in court without a lawyer is called pro se representation.  In Gideon v. Wainwright, the Supreme Court ruled that the court must provide a lawyer free of charge to defendants who cannot afford to pay a defense attorney.

It makes sense to represent yourself in matters such as traffic tickets, probate of a deceased person’s estate, and very simple divorce and parenting plan cases.  In criminal court, however, you are at risk of getting a permanent criminal record or even going to prison.

What Can a Public Defender Do That You Cannot?

Yes, public defenders are overworked and underpaid.  If you have a public defender represent you, your lawyer might be handling a murder case and be too stressed out, tired, and hungry to care about your lousy drug possession case and the dozens of other drug possession cases he is responsible for.  Unlike you, though, the public defender has graduated from law school and has seen hundreds of cases like yours.  He or she also has more experience negotiating plea deals than you do.  If the public defender thinks your case isn’t a big deal, maybe it isn’t, and maybe the public defender can get the charges dropped.  If you have any resources to hire your own criminal defense lawyer, though, it is in your interest to do so.

Contact Tampa Criminal Defense Attorney Bryant Scriven

A criminal defense lawyer can help you reduce your chances of being convicted if you are facing criminal charges.  Contact Scriven Law in Tampa, Florida to schedule a consultation.



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