Pro Se defendant convicted of third offense drunk driving. On appeal, Tracey Wood convinces Wisconsin Court of Appeals that the trial court tried the defendant unfairly. Court of Appeals reverses and remands.
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Pro Se Representation
Representing Yourself In A Criminal Case
You can represent yourself, but you should read this before choosing to do so. Keep in mind that a famous person once said, A person who chooses to represent himself has a fool for a lawyer and a damn fool for a client. When you choose represent yourself in a criminal case, you do so at your own peril, and at the risk of being treated less than evenhandedly in the event you are dealing with an unscrupulous or unhappy prosecutor or court official.
Constitution Right To Represent Yourself
The Constitution of the United States of America protects your right to represent yourself in a court of law. Self-representation (called Pro Se) is one of the cornerstones of our legal system providing people with the right and the opportunity to 'have their day in court.' And yet, that same Constitution affords a person an absolute right to be represented by an attorney, even if you cannot afford one. You may have represented yourself at some point in time, perhaps in a Small Claims Court case. But all you can lose in a small claims court is money. In a criminal case, you can lose you liberty and your reputation unnecessarily and unbeknowst to you through complex criminal proceedings that differ greatly from simple civil proceedings.
Wisconsin Criminal Law & Courtroom Procedures
In addition to an immense body of Wisconsin and Federal criminal laws, courts operate according to a complex set of rules designed to maintain a strict order in the judicial process and a trial's procedural process. Without these rules, every trial could operate in its own fashion. Such havoc would deny people charged of a crime with the very element that the United States of America's system ensures: due process under the law with a speedy trial.
Pro Se Defendants Must Act As Their Own Attorney
By acting as your own lawyer, you will be responsible for knowing and abiding by the court's standard operating procedures, just the same as is any attorney. Despite the fact that the judge may ask you repeatedly if you understand the process that is taking place, as is customarily done, a simple 'yes' to a direct question may have a tremendous and unintentional impact, such as was the case with Eller.
Attorney Tracey Wood gets Self Represented Client Out of Prison
Eller had waived her right to a jury trial. When the court explained to her that she would be held to same standards and expected to possess the same knowledge that an attorney would be in a case, she reconsidered and asked for a Public Defender. The court proceeded on her waiver of a jury trial and found her guilty of a third offense of drunk driving. She then consulted with Attorney Tracey Wood, who argued to the Court of Appeals that her case was not tried fairly. The Court of Appeals agreed, reversed the trial court's decision, and instructed the trial court to hold a new trial. [State of Wisconsin vs. Eller]
Performing Your own Surgery
Representing yourself in a criminal trial is much like a surgeon having a patient perform the surgery. You would not do it, period. Just as a doctor assesses your medical situation by investigation and testing, so too, criminal attorneys review and analyze your legal and criminal situation. Prior to a criminal defense attorney's assessment of your case, remember that the state and its investigators have been hard a work conducting an in-depth investigation to prove you guilty, not to exonerate or clear you. Those investigators are usually experienced, seasoned criminal law professionals in their own regard who have been investigating cases for many years. The prosecutor has likely tried hundreds of cases like yours and won many of them. Some of those cases were lost on the mere fact that the defendant was unable to represent him or herself against such experience.
Life & Liberty
It has been said that American's value and prize nothing more precious than their liberties and freedoms second to their health. Law books are full of laws protecting a person's right to choose. People don't place their health in jeopardy by self-surgery for a serious medical condition. Does it make any more sense to jeopardize your freedom and your liberty by self-representation in a serious legal situation? Most people would say no upon any careful reflection.
Experienced Prosecutors Await You
The criminal justice system is comprised of people with years of experience in prosecuting cases just like yours, regardless of the charges. Those prosecutors have seen many cases, heard all of the excuses, and often become cynical and unable to believe a person's cries of innocence even when they truly are innocent.
Even an attempt to understand the immense body of criminal law, case law, and courtroom procedures would be a daunting and overwhelming undertaking. People often turn to the system to protect their right to representation by asking for a public defender. Each state provides a means by which the courts may assign a lawyer to a case, sometimes at a reduced rate, and sometimes free (when the defendant is indigent). Typically, those honorable public defenders represent numerous people. Because they have so many clients, they often must forego conducting as extensive of an investigation as the police conducted before arresting you. Meanwhile, the prosecuting attorney has a police force serving the district attorney's office, as well as years of experience in preparing cases for trial and arguing cases with one main goal: to prove you guilty, not innocent.
You might think that merely by reading and understanding the criminal justice system, courtroom procedures, and prosecurial system that you are able to take on the dangerous task of self-representation. However, the laws are not that straightforward, presumptions exists that not written into statutes, and rebuttals are made but remain a part of unpublished case law. Often times, a person can be too close to the situation to see the facts in the same light that they may be viewed by a prosecutor, or even worse, by a judge or a jury.
If you are facing criminal charges, you owe it to yourself and your family that depends upon you to hire the best possible criminal defense attorney.
Regardless of the type of criminal defense that you think you might be able to afford, an acquittal is priceless.
Free Initial Consultation - Submit Your Case Today for Free
If you are under investigation for a crime, if you have been arrested for a crime or drunk driving, or if you already have been convicted of a crime and believe your conviction or sentence were wrong, please consider contacting the attorneys at Van Wagner & Wood right away for a free first-impression analysis of your case. Those attorneys will give you the straightforward facts on the law and what you mgiht expect as an outcome. The call is free.
Contact Van Wagner & Wood
If you are under investigation for a crime or drunk driving offense, if you have already been charged with a crime or drunk driving violation, or if you have already been convicted but believe your conviction or your sentence were wrong, call ( locally in Madison, Wisconsin, through Wisconsin) or e-mail ( ) the attorneys at Van Wagner & Wood right away. They will give you a brief but professional first-impression analysis of your case and your situation, which will allow you to take an important first step in defending the case against you. You can also submit information about a criminal offense investigation or charge or a drunk driving OWI investigation or charge for a free case review.