You’ve been charged with a crime. You’ve got all the paperwork you need. And you’ve been reading up on the charges like your life depends on it in part because it does.
But while you’re supposed to be setting your court date and getting a lawyer, every time you look at the likely cost of your legal fees you just can’t help mentally throwing up your hands and saying “Why can’t I just defend myself?”
From a legal standpoint, self-representation, or as pro se representation, is something that every accused has a right to do. The Government of Australia published a 2002 report that noted self-representation was on the rise.
But is this a good idea for your criminal case? Does saying “I’m going to skip hiring a criminal lawyer and go it alone.” really make sense?
We’re about to answer all of these questions and more. All you have to do is keep reading.
Do I Need a Lawyer? Yes
Many people will talk about the impact of self-representation on the system. But the reasons why everybody advises criminal defendants to find and hire experienced criminal defence lawyers can be summed up in three points:
- A lawyer will understand your pre-trial, in-trial, and post-trial legal rights
- It takes time to learn how to litigate
- You’d be surprised at just how much lawyering actually involves research and behind-the-scenes administration
Rules and technicalities are a huge deal in the Australian legal system. So much so that evidence can be ruled inadmissible if it isn’t secured through proper procedure. A criminal lawyer can bring that to the court’s attention.
In addition, the judge and the Crown prosecutor will have years, if not decades, of legal experience and courtroom skill between them. You want someone equally experienced on your side.
For these reasons and more, hiring a skilled criminal lawyer will almost always be in your best interests. After all, when your freedom and your criminal record are on the line, it’s better to be safe than sorry.
Trying to Figure Out How to Hire a Lawyer? 4 Questions You Need to Ask
Okay, so you’re off the fence and you’re getting a lawyer for your criminal case. How do you go about finding the right ones?
Don’t worry. We’ve got you. Here’s a list of 4 key questions you need to ask yourself when you’re looking to hire a criminal defence lawyer.
How Many Criminal Cases Has This Lawyer Tried?
Even though all the greatest trial lawyers began their careers as fresh-out-of-grad-school newbies, your criminal trial is not the time to moonlight as a guinea pig. You want a lawyer with real criminal courtroom experience.
When your case is in the hands of an experienced legal professional, you don’t have to worry about whether you’re about to look foolish in front of a literal judge and/or jury. That element of polish can go a long way in front of judges and juries.
Has This Lawyer Tried a Criminal Case Like Mine Before?
It’s not unusual for some people to think that if a lawyer has tried one kind of criminal case, then they should be fine handling any type of criminal case. But unfortunately, that’s not always true.
The elements of a criminal offence can dramatically differ. And a lawyer who is used to arguing against one type of charge may not be as capable if you throw them up against a slightly different type of charge.