When Not to Go Pro Se

The phrase “A man who is his own lawyer has a fool for a client” is pretty apt – even if you’re a lawyer representing yourself in court.

It never makes sense, not just because any representations you make to the court about your own conduct can be admissions that can be used against you later on.

But too often people act as their own lawyers. Every day I see pro se defendants – Latin for “representing yourself” – in the Wake County Courthouse, merrily pleading themselves guilty to what they believe are minor crimes, taking plea deals from the District Attorney that are not very good, or making admissions and getting into hot water with judges by speaking out of turn.

At the very least, many people who represent themselves in court, even in misdemeanor criminal cases, end up getting worse results that, in the long run, will cost them much more than had they paid what, in retrospect, turns out to be a very reasonable fee for a Raleigh criminal lawyer.

In some cases, people plead themselves guilty to crimes they could’ve avoided. They create criminal records where none existed. They make terrible, life-altering mistakes that only reveal themselves later when they apply for a job.

Do yourself a favor. Hire a professional Raleigh criminal lawyer.

There’s another phrase: “Penny-wise, pound-foolish.”

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Damon Chetson

Damon Chetson is a Board Certified Specialist in State and Federal Criminal Law. He represents people charged with serious and minor offenses in Raleigh, Wake County, and the Eastern District of North Carolina. Call (919) 352-9411.