Monday, June 10, 2013

WHAT THE JUDGE HEARS: PRESENTING YOURSELF IN CRIMINAL COURT

You’ve heard the old saying: “A lawyer who represents himself has a fool for the client.”

When you are involved in a case, you cannot see yourself or your situation objectively—the way a judge would see it. By representing yourself, you risk irritating the court, and worse, being convicted and sentenced. This is a primary reason for why you need an attorney in a criminal or DUI case.

Clients often do not see how they come across to others. What they think is a reasonable explanation may sound self-pitying or self-serving to the judge or jury. You also risk providing the prosecution with enough evidence to convict you.

Let’s look at a few examples very loosely based on real life:

When you say: “I didn’t do anything. I was just driving the car while the real criminals robbed the store.” What the judge hears: “I was involved in the crime. I was at the scene. I was an accessory.”

When you say: “Of course, I hit her. She wouldn’t leave me alone.” What the judge hears: “I refuse to take responsibility for my actions.”

When you say: “I didn’t violate the no-contact order. I was just asking about her mother.” What the judge hears: “I do not respect authority.”

When you say: “I wasn’t making any money, my rent was due, so I had to take a few things.” What the judge hears: “My problems justify breaking the law.”

When you say: “Don’t send me to jail because my children need their father.” What the judge hears: “I didn’t think about my children one iota when I committed the crime, but now that you are going to sentence me….”

If you are charged with a crime, contact an experienced criminal or DUI attorney immediately. For the reasons above, do not talk to the police or third parties. Just like in the movies, anything you say can be used against you. An attorney will know how to present your case in the most favorable light and may keep you from incriminating yourself.

If you have questions about this or another related criminal or traffic matter, please contact Matt Keenan at 847-568-0160 or email matt@mattkeenanlaw.com.

(Besides Skokie, Matt Keenan also serves the communities of Arlington Heights, Chicago, Deerfield, Des Plaines, Evanston, Glenview, Morton Grove, Mount Prospect, Niles, Northbrook, Park Ridge, Rolling Meadows, Wilmette and Winnetka.)

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