Working With a Criminal Lawyer While Representing Yourself

It's conceivable that you'll find a lawyer willing to advise you as you represent yourself in a criminal case.

It's not unheard of for a defendant considering self-representation to seek out an attorney willing to serve as a legal coach. The idea of a legal coach is to combine an attorney’s knowledge with the defendant’s time. Because a defendant pays only for the periodic use of the attorney’s time, the cost of a legal coach should be far less than turning a case over to a private attorney. 

In reality, though, it might be hard to find a lawyer willing to act as your coach. Some attorneys are worried about their liability if they give wrong advice based on incomplete information; others do not want to be involved with a case unless they are in control of it.

And representing oneself—even with help from a legal coach—is tremendously risky. The legal system is so complex that successfully representing a criminal defendant normally takes years of education and experience.

If you doubt whether you need to hire counsel, you can always consult an experienced attorney (whether a public defender or private attorney) whom you trust. Even if you have to pay for the attorney's time, it could be well worth it. For example, a lawyer might provide you guidance as to the apparent strength of the evidence, how cases like yours are often handled in your area, and what a reasonable plea offer could look like.

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