Representing yourself in court at any level requires a confident knowledgeable type personality who can stand his/her ground without displaying arrogance. That confidence should come from a case steeped in truth and knowledge of the law allegedly broken, and not a false sense of security from being an expert at guessing the end of your favorite detective show, before they reveal the details contrived. Even in the professional attorney ranks, not all attorneys are actual trial lawyers “bringing the case to the bench”; many are researchers and advisors, so give it serious consideration before you take on this formidable challenge.
It is no game to represent yourself in a court of law, and judges will not tolerate half-hearted pleas for mercy for a defense, or anything else unprofessional in substance or form. When it comes to the law, the more accurate information you have on your side, the better off you will be. Beside learned knowledge, the advantages of having an attorney representing you are evident upon entry into the court room. Walking in with an experienced attorney often times brings your case to the head of the line. Your case, represented by council, is addressed first, and settled in the same order, setting the order of precedence for that day on the calendar.
But, if you insist on representing yourself in a court of law, you might want to attend court, before your actual court date arrives, and observe the proceedings so you get a feel of the rhythm and cadence of a court room action. Also, if you represent yourself, be prepared to pay the fine, and the additional court fee, in full at the conclusion of the trial. This may occur if you chose to wave the prosecutor’s plea deal, if any are offered in your case, and send the matter to the bench, where the judge will make a final and executable decision. Local prosecutors might be unresponsive to pleas administered on one’s own behalf, this can happen in any jurisdiction where they rely heavily on traffic fines in their local budget. Sometimes an attorney can make a more suitable payment arrangement, and an attorney familiar with that particular jurisdiction may be your best council if you find yourself a victim of a profit based jurisdiction.
In either case, whether you’re represented by an attorney or not, any plea arrangements will be done pretrial, and both the prosecuting attorney, and the defendant must agree completely to the prearranged terms, or your case will be kicked back to the bench for trial, and promptly adjudicated.
Lastly, you might have elected to attend trial, interested in eliminating penalty points attached to your driver’s license; maybe you’re a professional driver concerned with a blotch on your driving record, or you may be a non professional driver, worried that your insurance company will raise your rates over this infraction. You may be successful in keeping the points off your license, or arranging lower points, than the pre-plea offense called for, but be prepared to pay about the same money in the long run. Some states will charge a surcharge that may last for a year or two, which are almost as costly as the original fine itself.