If you are arrested for a misdemeanor or felony in Oklahoma, your due process rights means that you will have the right to a trial in which your guilt must be proven beyond a reasonable doubt before you can be convicted for the crime. This is your chance to dispute the charges and force the prosecutors to provide sufficient evidence to meet the high bar of beyond a reasonable doubt. Some criminal defendants want to take advantage of this process but do not want to retain the services of an attorney, thus they attempt to represent themselves in Oklahoma criminal court.
You Do Have a Right to Represent Yourself, But it is Strongly Discouraged
The U.S. Supreme Court has held that an individual has a right to represent himself in a criminal trial under the Sixth Amendment, so long as the person is “competent” to do so. The word competent here does not mean competent to practice law, but rather only being reasonably aware of the factual allegations being made against you and of the court proceedings in general. The vast, vast majority of adults would be considered competent to represent themselves, even if very few know the first thing about criminal law.
Attempting to defend yourself in a criminal trial is strongly, strongly discouraged. Your average criminal law practitioner has spent three years in law school, has studied and passed a state bar examination, and has probably spent years learning the ins and outs of the criminal law system as well as the best defense strategies.
Judges Do Not Give Special Treatment to Self-represented Defendants
In general, judges are not going to give too much extra leeway to a defendant who has decided to represent himself, and will instead hold that defendant up to the same level of knowledge expected of a lawyer. Therefore, you will be expected to meet deadlines, follow the rules of the court and the state evidentiary code, and be able to present witnesses and arguments that go to the underlying factual and legal allegations. These are not the types of things a person can be expected to pick up with some online research.
A criminal conviction can mean jail time, criminal fines, and a criminal record that will follow you around for years. To do everything you can to avoid these negative outcomes, work with an experienced criminal defense attorney in your area.
Contact an Oklahoma Criminal Defense Attorney
Oklahoma City criminal defense attorney Patrick Quillian worked as an Oklahoma district attorney, and will work with you in mounting your best defense in your criminal matter. Contact the office of J. Patrick Quillian, Attorney at Law, today at 405.294.4448 to schedule a free consultation to see what his criminal defense team can do for you.