You’ve likely heard that it is possible to represent yourself in court, and may have even thought about all of the money you could save by not hiring a lawyer. Sometimes the facts are self-evident, sometimes the evidence speaks for itself, and sometimes court is just the place where everyone gets to tell their story, right?

Wrong. Your livelihood is at stake in the courtroom, and without an experienced attorney in your corner, a guilty verdict is practically inevitable.

But, why don’t you represent yourself in court? Why is it such a bad idea? The veteran criminal lawyers at Thiessen Law Firm are here to talk a bit about the perils of self-representation so that you can make an informed decision about the hands you put your future in, in the courtroom.

Why it is a mistake to represent yourself in court

What is it called when you represent yourself in court? People representing themselves in court are referred to as self-represented litigants, unrepresented litigants, or pro se litigants. Although it’s not uncommon to find people who want to save money and represent themselves, this would be a mistake.

So, why don’t you represent yourself in court? Even if the case seems cut and dry, representing yourself in court — especially in a DWI case — essentially guarantees your conviction.

  1. Education. When it comes to something as complex as criminal defense, raw intelligence, and thorough research simply aren’t enough. Understanding the intricacies of the American legal system requires years of focused and constantly expanding education — something you simply don’t have the time to do on your own.
  2. Familiarity. Most seasoned attorneys will be extremely familiar with the prosecutors, judges, and even the officers involved in your case. While the law isn’t exactly flexible, knowing who you’re dealing with and what they will and won’t respond to is critical to courtroom success.
  3. Time. As hard as you can work for your own case, a team of dedicated professionals is able to work that much harder. Attorneys who understand the system inside and out have access to more knowledge and resources, which not only makes your case more compelling, but it also streamlines the process, since they know where to go for research.
  4. Experience. No matter how much you’ve taught yourself about the law, nothing can prepare you for the courtroom experience. Even the simplest of errors in etiquette, protocol, and terminology can chip away at your case, placing you at risk of arrest for contempt of court.

Whether you’re facing a DWI in Texas first offense or a felony DWI charge after a repeat offense, electing to represent yourself in court without a lawyer means that you aren’t serious about beating the charge.

Don’t ask “Who can represent me in court in Texas?” Ask “Who should represent me in court in Texas?”

There are major differences between what is permissible in a courtroom to get by and what you have to do in a courtroom in order to win a case. If you’re not all that invested in winning your own case you should feel free to represent yourself, but if you want to win you’re going to want the best DWI lawyer in Texas to represent you in court.

How do you know who to hire to represent you? There are a couple of things that you can look out for.

  1. Are they a trial attorney? Trial attorneys specialize in preparing ironclad defenses for trial by preparing witnesses, gathering evidence, and choosing jury members. If you’re going to trial without a trial attorney, you’re already in trouble.
  2. Are they a Super Lawyer? Because the Super Lawyer designation is only given to a handful of lawyers from every state who have demonstrated outstanding achievement in their field of law, it can be a good indicator that you’re hiring the best attorney you can.
  3. What are their Board Certifications? Mark Thiessen is the only lawyer in the country who is triple board-certified in the following categories:
    1. Criminal Law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization
    2. DUI Defense by the National College for DUI Defense as approved through the American Bar Association
    3. DUI Law by the DUI Defense Lawyers Association
    4. Board Certified Advocate Criminal Trial Law by the NBTA Foundation
  4. Have they won cases that look like yours? Take a look at the Notable Victories section of their website and make sure you see Not Guilty verdicts for cases that look like yours.

In addition to all of these things, Mark Thiessen is also an ACS-CHAL Lawyer-Scientist, which means he knows how to make the law and the science work for his clients.

Has anyone successfully represented themselves in court?

Certainly. Many people have successfully represented themselves in court, although it isn’t very common. What often happens is that the person who decides to represent themselves in court realizes that their case requires specific expertise or knowledge of the law that they do not have, knowledge that by hiring a lawyer they would essentially be guaranteed.

Keep in mind that if the attorney you hire to represent you doesn’t have the specific knowledge and expertise required to take on your case, then retaining you as a client might be considered legal malpractice, entitling you to damages if they lose.

Basically, if you think you’re saving money by not hiring an attorney, things likely won’t work out the way that you expect them to, and hiring an experienced defense attorney might be your only shot at retaining your freedom.

Choosing to represent yourself in court could be choosing to throw away your future

While you are legally allowed to represent yourself in court, going up against complex criminal charges like DWI or possession of a controlled substance in Texas without an experienced trial attorney at your side will likely end in failure and conviction. To give yourself the best shot at victory, hire the best lawyer that you can find, it’s as simple as that.

If you have a case that you cannot afford to lose, you cannot afford to represent yourself. You need to hire an attorney who has the ability to argue in front of a judge and jury and win. Mark Thiessen and the criminal attorneys at Thiessen Law Firm take high-stakes criminal cases to trial and win them.

Your future is worth the fight. Call Thiessen Law Firm at (713) 864-9000 or contact us online today for a free consultation.

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Mark Thiessen is an aggressive trial lawyer best known for his devotion to justice for his clients and high rank as a DWI Super Lawyer in Texas.