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Most people have heard the warnings that you should not represent yourself in court. A lesson that criminal lawyers watch self-represent accused persons learn everyday in criminal courts. Without a strong knowledge of the law, rules of evidence and legal procedures, you’re bound to make mistakes. Misunderstanding an evidentiary rule or procedure could mean crucial evidence not being admitted at your trial.

Imagine not being able to rely upon an Expert Report that cost thousands of dollars to produce and not being able to use it as evidence at your trial? You can’t expect the Courts to go easy on you due to a lack of experience.

A professional, however, understands how the rules of evidence work and the court procedures. An experienced criminal lawyer not only can ensure that your evidence is properly presented to the Court, but more importantly can ensure that only lawful evidence is admitted against you.

So would it be smart for a criminal lawyer to represent themselves in court?


No one understands the value of hiring a criminal better than criminal lawyers themselves. Any good defence lawyer knows that hiring another lawyer is worth the expense. For all the costs they save, they’re risking much more in the potential consequences of a conviction.

Plain and simple, your best chance to at a better outcome is to have someone else represent you.


A problem with representing yourself is that you are too emotionally involved in the outcome of the case. The purpose of the court system is to uphold justice. Your purpose is to secure your personal interest. Things can become difficult for self-representation when these two aims don’t match up.

When people try to represent themselves it’s common to end up paying fines or spending time in jail where it might have been otherwise avoided.

It is not only knowledge and experience that affect the outcome of a case. Even a good defence lawyer can make these mistakes representing themselves. Hiring outside representation provides them with a number of important benefits.


A criminal defence lawyer has all the knowledge, tools, and experience needed to defend themselves. But that’s still not enough to give themselves the best representation. Being both the defendant and the defence lawyer limits their vision and stretches them out. It’s not a formula for success.

Some advantages of them hiring another criminal defence lawyer include:


When you’re directly involved in the charges and potential consequences of a case, you lack perspective. For this reason, most defence attorneys won’t defend close family either. The outcome of the case becomes too important to the lawyer for them to act objectively.

This can result in missing important points or not making the best choices. Judgement is clouded and that can have serious implications on the results of the trial.


Hiring a criminal lawyer doesn’t just ensure perspective, it also provides advisement. One of the most valuable things a lawyer does is counsel the defendant with real, unbiased advice. In your own case, it’s difficult to be objective and rational. So the reality check another defence lawyer offers is important.

Not Having to Play Two Roles

When acting as your own lawyer, you open yourself up to some challenges. A lawyer can speak on behalf of their client, but this confuses matters when playing both roles.

In this case, anything you say to a judge or attorney can be used as an omission, putting you at a disadvantage in pre-trial discussions. This means you can’t safely explain any mitigating circumstances. As well, it limits negotiations when the person discussed is part of the conversation.

As well, playing two roles is confusing for the jury. It’s difficult to distinguish when one is acting as the defendant and when they’re the defence.

Beyond all this, it also is a stressful position. Playing both roles stretches you thin, leaving you vulnerable to errors, or missing opportunities.

It’s Not A Good Look

A criminal lawyer who represents himself is causing confusion and making matters more difficult for the Judge, jury, and Crown. While this isn’t ideal for their case, it’s also a problem moving forward.

Relationships with attorneys and Judges add value to a defence lawyer and are not worth jeopardizing needlessly. Instead, defence lawyers are better off putting their faith in the system they’ve dedicated themselves to.


If you or a loved one are facing criminal charges, you need representation. A criminal lawyer will help you understand your charges and your options. William Jaksa has over a decade of experience in Toronto criminal defence and is dedicated to helping you get the best possible outcome.

Contact us today for a consultation.

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