Dylann Roof Will Represent Himself at Trial: 5 Reasons It’s a Mistake
November 28, 2016 marked a new development in the trial of Dylann Roof, the man charged with murdering nine people after opening fire at a Charleston church shooting in June 2015: According to a CNN report, a judge has allowed Roof to represent himself throughout his criminal trial, scheduled to begin in January 2017. Jury selection began shortly after the decision was made, and Roof will be able to object to potential jurors if he feels they aren’t fit to serve in his case. You should consult with a Florida criminal defense attorney before attempting to handle your own defense because there are a few reasons it’s a mistake to appear pro se.
- You May Incriminate Yourself: You’ve heard of people pleading the Fifth Amendment, but do you really know when to claim this right to avoid incriminating yourself? Unless you have a legal background, you may say things that hurt or invalidate your defense. Even worse, you may testify to facts that can give strength to the prosecutor’s case against you.
- You Don’t Know the Law, Court Rules, and Criminal Procedures: Anyone who appears in court is expected to be familiar with all legal aspects of a case. You must have an in-depth understanding of statutory and case law, the rules of the court, and procedures governing criminal cases. If you don’t, you may lose the opportunity to properly present a defense and cannot attack the claims made by the prosecuting attorney – who does have an extensive legal background. Any mistakes you make with respect to the law, court rules, and criminal procedure will not be grounds for appeal.
- You’re on Your Own: There will be several court staff members present in the courtroom. Court clerks are charged with managing court records and filings; bailiffs are tasked with keeping order; and, a judge presides over your case. None of these people is allowed to give you legal advice on how to handle your case. You’re on your own in presenting your defense and arguments.
- Emotions May Get the Better of You: When you’re representing yourself in court, you’re likely to become nervous, which affects your ability to think clearly. Plus, a prosecuting attorney will be presenting evidence and testimony that may put you on the defensive. You may respond to the claims emotionally, which reduces your effectiveness.
- There’s a Lot at Stake: Depending on the crime, you could be looking at hefty fines and significant jail time. You should trust a lawyer with background and experience in criminal defense rather than risk your personal freedoms.
You’re in Good Hands with a Qualified Florida Criminal Defense Attorney
While the Dylann Roof case is a serious matter involving multiple murders and hate crimes, it’s a mistake to try and represent yourself in any criminal matter for the reasons listed above. Without a legal background in criminal cases, you’re at a disadvantage compared to the experience of the prosecuting attorneys. Fort Lauderdale lawyer Kevin J. Kulik has represented many clients in a wide array of criminal cases and will vigorously defend your interests. Please contact our office today for a confidential consultation.