We see it in the movies. We even see it in the courtroom at times – people accused of a criminal offense who decline their right to an attorney and try to defend themselves. Our goal here isn’t to tell you that NOBODY should ever try to do this, but, as attorneys who spend countless hours in Indiana criminal court, we certainly would never advise it.
There are a number of questions you should ask yourself before you commit to this. If you’re reading this article, it’s probably safe to assume you’re already considering it – so let’s consider some questions you should be asking yourself before you commit.
Do You Have a Law Degree?
This is not meant to diminish your knowledge or experiences in any way, but would you go to a dentist who never went to dental school? Would you trust the medical advice of a “doctor” who never actually got a degree and holds no validity in the title of “doctor?”
If you have a law degree, you may have the capability to handle your case on your own. You at least have the knowledge base to operate within the Indiana legal system, but there’s another consideration you may be forgetting – lawyers have lawyers too.
Understanding the law does not automatically mean you are going to win your case. The other side knows the law, too. One of the biggest reasons to have an attorney even if you are an attorney or know the law yourself is because you are the one accused of a crime. You cannot reasonably give yourself a neutral, third-party perspective on your case when you are the one under scrutiny. Your attorney’s job is more than to know the law – it’s to understand the circumstances and opportunities of your case, as well.
Would You Pay a Few Thousand to Stay Out of Jail?
If someone came up to you right now and put you in handcuffs and gave you the option to either spend between a few years to life in prison or give them $10,000 to get out of jail, would you pay it?
This is the decision you are often making when you hire an attorney. $10,000 is just a general number and not a reflection of our actual costs (as those will vary depending on the time we spend on your case and the needs of your trial), but paying for an attorney makes the chances of you staying out of jail significantly higher.
In some cases, it does not matter whether you are guilty or innocent – it matters how good your lawyer is. We’d love to say the criminal justice system is fair and consistent, but the fact is that the truth doesn’t always prevail and your attorney should be an expert in making your circumstances work in your favor.
Have You At Least Met With an Attorney?
You may be leaning towards doing this yourself. We aren’t going to force you to commit to anything, but have you at least talked to an attorney about your case?
At Blankenship Law, we offer free consultations so we can meet with you, get to know your case, and decide if we are a good fit for each other. Before you commit to representing yourself in your Indiana criminal case, talk to our team and we can work together to decide if hiring an attorney is your best bet.