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The complexities of self-representation

The constitution of the state of Georgia explicitly allows participants in the court system to provide a defense to any charges for allegations. They could do this by representing themselves pro se or retaining counsel.

People facing criminal charges often choose to hire an attorney. There are various reasons for this, not the least of which is the complexity of court procedure. Those who choose to be their own lawyer bear the full responsibility for all actions and outcomes in their cases.

Courts often develop rules over time to ensure the due process of law that is afforded to all citizens by the US Constitution. Unfortunately, a defendant or representative must often have a full understanding of procedure to successfully navigate a criminal case — especially while considering relevant precedents and statutory principles.

The Walker County Clerk of Superior, State and Juvenile Courts brings up an important point in its notice to pro se defendants: Even cases with evidence that favors the defense may end in failure. This is especially true if the legal team fails to follow proper procedure. For criminal cases, these procedural errors could include anything from a missed due date to a mistake on a form.

While any these errors alone may not spell disaster for a case, they could allow prosecuting state’s attorneys to take various actions that have the potential to overwhelm and confuse the opposition. For these reasons, those who want to avoid the serious consequences that could result from a criminal conviction often conclude that the risks of pro se representation outweigh the benefits.