The #1 Reason NOT to Defend Yourself in Calgary Criminal Cases

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Every year in Calgary, thousands of ordinary citizens who somehow find themselves charged with a criminal offence make a fateful and almost universally negative decision. Instead of finding a defence lawyer they like and trust to work with them on their case, they choose to represent themselves. This almost never works out to their benefit, and decisions like these are responsible for thousands (if not millions) of dollars in added penalties and years of life spent in jail.

There are several reasons people typically give to defend their decision to represent themselves. No one cares about their case as much as they do, they claim. No one could possibly understand the issues like they do. Court is easy—all they have to do is tell their side of the story and they'll be found innocent or the case will be tossed out. Defence lawyers are too expensive and don't really do much in return.

I could write a hundred blog posts disproving each of those assertions, and one day I might get around to it. Today, though, instead of arguing against all of these reasons for representing yourself in a criminal defence case in the Calgary courts, I'd like to share the number one reason this is a bad idea. Here it is:

Your life matters.

The Right Defence Lawyer is Your Best Chance at a Fulfilling and Productive Future

If you've been charged with a serious crime in Calgary, make no mistake: your life is on the line. No, you aren't in any immediate physical danger, but spending even a few years in jail will irrevocably alter your life and your future opportunities. Even a single year away from your family, your career, and your community could lead to major and irreversible changes. Divorce, losing your job, and having friends and colleagues drift away or simply cut off contact are not at all uncommon following a criminal conviction and a prison sentence.

And the numbers don't lie. If you represent yourself in a criminal case, you are more likely to be convicted and more likely to receive a harsher punishment—larger fines and/or more time in jail—than if you had received assistance from an experienced legal professional. When you act as your own legal representative rather than partnering with a defence lawyer, you are betting your future on your ability to navigate Calgary's criminal justice system. The system isn't simple, and presenting your case is rarely a clear and straightforward process, not to mention the fact that you'll be up against judges and Crown prosecutors who work in the system every single day.

Is it your right to represent yourself in the Calgary courts? Absolutely. Does that make it a good idea? According to the numbers, absolutely not. Do yourself and your family a favor. Call an experienced, dedicated, and compassionate Calgary criminal defence lawyer today. That's how you give yourself the best possible chance at a brighter tomorrow.

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