It's rarely a good idea to represent yourself in a criminal case,
especially when jail time or prison is a possibility if you lose. In a
few situations, however, it may make sense to be your own lawyer.
Your Right to Represent Yourself in a Criminal Case
You must be legally "competent" before a judge will allow you to represent yourself in a criminal trial.
Does Self-Representation in a Criminal Case Ever Make Sense?
The key to deciding if you need a lawyer is to look at the punishment you'll face if convicted. The harsher the potential punishment, the more important it is that you are represented by counsel.
What Is a "Pro Se" or "Pro Per" Defendant?
Judges and lawyers typically refer to defendants who represent themselves with the terms pro se or pro per (taken from “in propria persona”).