Darrell Brooks is representing himself at trial for the killings that occurred during the Christmas Parade in Waukesha, Wisconsin November 21, 2021. What are the positives and negatives of self-representation at trial or throughout a criminal investigation?
Brooks is facing a life sentence in prison for six counts of intentional first-degree homicide and 76 other criminal charges including reckless endangerment.
On October 3rd, Judge Jennifer Dorow approved his motion to dismiss his counsel and represent himself. On October 5, the judge denied his motion to delay the trial. Since the trial began, Brooks has submitted motions and written objections that were less effective than desired. How will these pro se motions impact the outcome of the case?
When facing criminal charges, every American citizen has the right to an attorney. There are three options for representation:
- Retained counsel may charge a flat fee, hourly rate, or a combination
- A Public defender is appointed by the court f you cannot pay to retain an attorney
- Pro Se defendants choose the option of self-representation
The Success Rate of Pro Se Defendants
The last time a defendant won a federal case pro se was In 1978, Sam Sloan argued his supreme court case pro se and won over the Jury 9-0.
While it is ambitious to want to represent oneself there are several potential pitfalls to pro se representation for non-lawyers like Brooks even though he previously consulted with an attorney.
- The defendant is arrested and goes to jail until the case is over.
- It is difficult to obtain and review discovery, conduct investigations, and do the legal research necessary.
- The defendant may not recognize opportunities or know the language of the legal system for strategic defense of their rights.
- There is no negotiating power against a trained, experienced prosecutor.
- The defendant may get caught off-guard by default judgments, summary judgments, or dismissals.
Is a Public Defender Effective?
A public defender knows the process and language of the legal system. However, they are often overworked and underpaid. Other factors to consider include:
- They practice in a variety of areas of the law rather than a sole focus on criminal defense
- There’s no time for extensive evidence review or to meet with the client individually
- There is no time for a thorough case analysis by a paid law firm’s team or private investigator
- Their reputation is not tied to the result of the case
The Difference With Retained Counsel
Retained counsel provides a thorough and strategic defense of your rights. A paid law firm will work hard on every case because their reputation and business is on the line. They are properly compensated for providing the services listed.
- Minimize jail time during the process
- Expand time and resources to review the evidence, conduct research, and initiate an investigation on your behalf
- Schedule time to meet with you, your family, and witnesses individually
- Draw from their focus and experience with all types of criminal cases and evidence
What If I Can’t Afford an Attorney?
Many defendants in a criminal case think they cannot afford to hire an attorney, but can they afford not to?
A criminal conviction can result in job loss, fines, jail time, and offender registration in the case of a sex offense conviction. Following a guilty judgment, the defendant is considered a criminal and will be subject to the consequences thereof. An experienced defense attorney can help minimize or completely eliminate the risk of going to jail or prison.
What is it worth to have an Ohio criminal defense law firm working vehemently to defend your rights, freedom, livelihood, and future?
There are several ways to find the funds to retain an expert defense attorney.
- Borrow money from family members
- Use credit cards or take out a loan
- Sell household items
- Cash-out retirement
- Property lien
How An Attorney in Delaware, OH Can Help at Trial
When facing criminal charges or a criminal investigation, you should consider the type of charges and the complexity of your case when deciding who can best defend your rights.
Just as bankruptcy attorneys differ from real estate attorneys, defense attorneys can vary greatly. The level of trial experience of a defendant’s legal team is an important factor to consider.
- At trial, if they are able to convince even one juror to doubt the prosecution’s argument it will be worth the expense of an experienced trial lawyer.
- An experienced trial attorney can advise the defendant on the possible sentences and will strategically fight for the client’s goals.
- An experienced criminal defense attorney can use the pre-trial hearing to the defendant’s advantage.
The decision to go to trial pro se or with paid representation is the defendant’s choice. No defense attorney can guarantee a not-guilty verdict, but an experienced trial attorney can help the defendant obtain the best possible outcome.
If you are made aware you are the subject of a criminal allegation, it is imperative that you immediately contact a criminal defense attorney to defend your right to a fair and just trial and avoid potentially life-altering consequences.
Written by The Law Office of Brian Jones, LLC
Written by Dr. Hank Jackoby