If You Represent Yourself, You’re Held To The Same Ethical Standard, The Same Knowledge Standard, And The Same Procedural Standards As An Attorney.
Video Transcribed: What does it mean to be pro se? Tahlequah Criminal Attorney Ryan Cannonie with the Wirth Law Tahlequah law office. I want to talk to you just a little bit about what it means to represent yourself. Now, when most of us think about court, we think about attorney on this side and attorney on this side, battling it out, but you actually have a right to represent yourself in court. If you can represent yourself, why would you ever pay for an attorney?
Well, if you represent yourself, you’re held to the same standard, the same ethical standard, the same knowledge standard, the same procedural standards as an attorney. But what I mean by that is, as an attorney I have three years of law school, I had to pass an examination. I personally have seven years of experience working with the prosecution office, and now I work for the defense side. So I have a little bit of knowledge that most people normally wouldn’t have based on objections, rules of evidence, things of that nature.
What can happen if you represent yourself? Well, one of my first trials as a prosecutor, I was doing a trial with a friend, who’s also become a defense attorney now, and we had a pro se person. He got into a fight with his brother. It was a domestic assault and battery case, and he refused to get an attorney.
He wanted to represent himself. He went to court and he stood up and he would try to make arguments and most of them were not allowed under the evidence rules. Meaning he was making hypothetical arguments, doing different things in the wrong time or doing things that were just weren’t allowed. So we would object because that was our job and so a lot of what he wanted to present, didn’t get out there.
In the end, the jury, even though he was not a bad guy. Him and his brother got into a fight and he, of the two of them, was actually a little more easy to get along with. The jury ended up sentencing him to one month in county jail and a very large fine.
I don’t remember the exact amount, but I think it was either 800 or $1000. Had he had an attorney, he probably wouldn’t have even gone to trial. He probably would’ve got a plea offer or maybe even got the charges dismissed with an attorney working for him that knew the system and knew what was going to be evidenced, what wasn’t going to be evidence, what was relevant, what wasn’t relevant.
So yes, you can go on your own, but you’re really taking a risk, because you’re going into a fight, not only with one hand tied behind your back, but you don’t know any of the rules nor do you know how to use the weapons. If you need an attorney and you’re in a legal matter, if you’re in a criminal matter, please give us a call. We can look over your case and try to help. Thank you.