Being arrested for driving under the influence can be a frightening experience. After the initial scare from the actual arrest starts to wear people start thinking about how to resolve the charges. For most people that means hiring an experienced Nebraska DUI attorney; however, a small percentage of people decide to go it alone and represent themselves.
While the U.S. Constitution guarantees you the right to be represented by counsel in a criminal proceeding, you are not required to assert that right. There is no law, either at the federal or the state level, which requires you to be represented by an attorney in a criminal prosecution. In other words, you may represent yourself in your Nebraska DUI case. Just because you have the right to represent yourself, however, doesn’t mean it is a good idea.
Representing yourself is referred to as proceeding “pro se” in legal jargon. One important thing to understand if you decide to represent yourself is that pro se defendants receive no leeway or consideration from the court with regard to court rules and procedures. You will be expected to know the rules of evidence and of criminal procedure just as an attorney does. While some judges will attempt to steer a pro se defendant in the right direction other judges have no patience with a defendant who has chosen to proceed without an attorney.
Another consideration when deciding whether or not to go it alone is your knowledge, or lack thereof, of the customs and procedures that are not found in a law book. Understanding the DUI statute may be easy enough for you but you cannot know what punishment local prosecutors customarily agree to for a first time offender or what a specific judge is likely to hand down as your punishment if you take your case to trial and lose. Only an experienced DUI attorney has that knowledge. The risks of proceeding without such knowledge are numerous. You could accept a plea agreement with much harsher terms than are customary or you could take a case to trial without fully understanding the risks involved in doing so, for example.
You have an absolute right to represent yourself in your Nebraska DUI prosecution; however, you owe it to yourself to at least consult with an experienced DUI attorney before making the decision to proceed pro se. For a free case evaluation, contact Peterson Law Office 24 hours a day at 402-513-2180.
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