Colorado law allows you to represent yourself in a Denver court or at any legal proceeding in the state. But just because you’re allowed to represent yourself doesn’t mean it’s a good idea to try. The law is complicated, and Denver courts have certain etiquette requirements you will be expected to know and follow before you arrive.
Finding out about proper court etiquette is just one of the complex issues that faces anyone trying to represent themselves. Here’s exactly why it’s not a good idea to try to represent yourself.
Etiquette isn’t the only thing you probably don’t know
The law is endlessly complicated, and while the law does say you have the right to represent yourself, it also clearly states that you are expected to know and follow all the rules just as if you were a lawyer.
In other words, it is entirely your responsibility not only to have all the ins and outs of your own case, but also to learn everything you need to know about how to work in a courtroom.
This means understanding exactly what you’re being charged with, what defenses will be accepted, when and how and what to file with the court at every point, and what you must turn over to the prosecution.
Emotional distance is always healthy
If you try to represent yourself, you are going to have to deal with your own nervousness and worry. You will certainly find yourself very emotionally involved in the case itself, and you may also have to deal with jitters and fear of public speaking or of crowds.
A Denver criminal attorney, on the other hand, has emotional distance from the case itself. This does not mean they don’t care about the case — the job of a criminal lawyer is to defend you vigorously. It only means that their judgment won’t be clouded by emotion at the worst possible moment.
Not only do attorneys have distance from the case, but they also have experience dealing with the court. That’s what they do for a living, so they will not feel nervous about speaking to the judge or presenting a case in front of a crowd of people.
The court is not allowed to help you
Once again, the district court of Denver allows you to represent yourself, but it specifically forbids anyone at the court from helping you. The judge, the office staff, or the judge’s staff are not allowed to talk to you about your case unless everyone involved in the case is present.
Furthermore, no one present in the courtroom or at the courthouse is allowed to give you any legal advice whatsoever. If you get yourself into a bind once you get started, it will be too late to do anything about it once you are already involved in the trial.
The only help you can expect will be a summary of your rights from the judge in your case. She or he may also advise you to get an attorney and tell you how that can happen. Otherwise, you are entirely on your own.
You are up against professionals
The prosecutor’s office bringing the case against you has an immense amount of experience. They very literally “do this every day.” They know all the tricks, and they are well aware of the types of things you are unlikely to know.
This gives them a huge advantage, and it means that you may have no way of knowing if a deal they are offering is a good one or not. They may be offering you a terrible deal on the assumption that you will think it’s the best you can get.
When people defend themselves in court, the statistics show that it almost always goes badly. And once you get to a certain point, it might be too late to hire a lawyer. It’s never a good idea to try to represent yourself, so aim to get a criminal lawyer on your side as soon as possible so you can get the best possible result.