Should You Ever Represent Yourself in Criminal Court?
Any type of criminal charge is a serious matter. Even convictions for minor offences can result in serious legal penalties, including substantial fines and jail time.
In some cases, the collateral consequences of a criminal conviction are worse than the penalties that were originally imposed by the court. The consequences can include those imposed by schools, employers, government agencies, licensing authorities, and other parties that can have a significant impact on your life. Some examples of the potential collateral consequences of a criminal conviction include the following:
- The loss of a job
- Difficulty getting a job in the future
- Sanctions imposed by your school, including probation, suspension, or expulsion
- Denial of admission to an academic program
- Difficulty renting an apartment
- Damage to reputation in the community
- Denial or loss of a professional licence
With these potentially serious consequences, you should never represent yourself in criminal court, regardless of the type of charge you are facing. Here are some of the things that a lawyer can do for you:
Determine Whether any Defences Apply
In many criminal cases, there are legal defences which, if properly raised, may result in a mitigation of the consequences the defendant faces, an acquittal at trial, or even the entire case being dropped by the prosecution. These defences are often technical, however, and it can be difficult to know whether they apply without significant legal training. They can either be procedural or substantive, and often include the following:
- Moving to suppress evidence based on a violation of the defendant’s Charter Rights
- Raising an affirmative defence, which means admitting the facts alleged by the prosecution but alleging addition facts which, if true, justify or mitigate the defendant’s actions
- Finding procedural errors with the way the prosecution filed the case
- Directly attacking the prosecution’s case to create reasonable doubt
Negotiate a Favourable Plea Bargain with the Prosecutor
The vast majority of criminal cases are resolved through a plea bargain. This means that the defendant agrees to plead guilty in return for conviction for a lesser charge or for the prosecutor recommending the judge impose a lesser sentence. In some cases, a plea bargain may even allow a defendant to avoid a conviction. Negotiating a plea bargain is a complicated process, however, so if you are facing a criminal charge and plan to seek one, you should do so with the assistance of an experienced lawyer.
Represent You in Court
Finally, if your case goes to trial, it is critical that you have legal representation. Remember, the other side is a professional prosecutor whose job it is to obtain convictions. For this reason, to even the playing field, you need to retain the best criminal defence lawyer you can find.
Call Us Today to Retain an Experienced Alberta Criminal Defence Lawyer Today
If you have been accused of any type of criminal offence, you should retain legal representation as soon as you can. Hiring the right lawyer can have a significant impact on the way your case is resolved and can often lead to a much better outcome than you would have been able to obtain on your own. With more than 15 years of experience, the criminal defence warriors at Bourdon Defence know how to minimize the effects of a criminal charge on your life. To schedule a free consultation, call our office today at 403-474-4143 or .