Self-Representation Means Having a Fool for a Client

Things didn’t go as planned for Warren Jeffs. Granted, he is a little bit “touched,” but his decision to represent himself on child sexual abuse and rape charges just landed him a life sentence in Texas’ big house.

This morning I read an article in the Phoenix newspaper about a woman on trial for murder who decided to represent herself. Why someone faces such serious criminal charges would do so, I have no idea. But her life as a criminal defense lawyer was short lived. She blew a major issue and damaging evidence will now be heard by the jury. An experienced criminal defense attorney would not have made that mistake. She is now begging the judge to allow her former attorney to represent her again because “she blew it.”

Sometimes defendants who are in jail want to represent themselves because they get greater privileges in the jail. They get better access to the library and to the telephone to talk to witnesses. Note that it’s amazing how all of their buddies turn up on their list of potential witnesses. Usually, at the last minute, they ask for a “real lawyer” to step in, but the truth is that their criminal defense attorney is not prepared and can’t to a proper job of defending in court. The funny thing is that this sort of thing is more common when the charges are more serious – conspiracy, murder, kidnapping, child molestation, etc. Defendants with lesser charges such as aggravated assault, domestic violence, and fraud don’t typically play that game.

I went to school for seven years to do this job. I have been practicing law for 25+ years and am one of the most experienced criminal defense attorney’s in Phoenix. And while the outcome of self-representation may not land you on death row, it can sure get you convicted of a felony and keep you in prison for some time. Look at it this way, if you need heart bypass surgery, would you read a manual and carve yourself up with a hacksaw? I didn’t think so.

Leave the heavy lifting to the professionals. A few extra phone calls aren’t worth it. Call our firm today for more information.

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