The American judicial system is established in such a way that individuals can access justice even if they lack the rigorous educational and professional requirements to practice law by choosing to represent themselves. However, simply because individuals can represent themselves does not mean that they necessarily should. There is some information available online, but nothing can replace the expertise of a accredited lawyer. The legal system is complex and fraught with a number of hurdles that makes it difficult for a novice to succeed with self-representation. Some of the many risks that you take of representing yourself rather than retaining a lawyer in South Florida like at The Stafford law firm include:
Giving Up Your Rights
In the law, there are many procedural requirements that must be strictly followed. If you do not precisely adhere to these requirements, you can give up your rights. For example, you only have a certain amount of time to file a lawsuit in order to recover for certain injuries. If you do not properly file a lawsuit in time, you can be forever barred from bringing the claim.
If you receive a complaint from an adverse party, you only have a certain amount of time in order to provide an answer. If you fail to meet these deadlines, the other party can receive a default judgment against you.
Losing the Right to Present Evidence
In order to present certain evidence in court, you may be required to tell the other side of this intent, as well as the court. Additionally, you cannot simply hand the judge evidence without going through a process to properly introduce it. If you do not know how to notify the proper parties and how to introduce the evidence, you may not be able to have it admitted and the court may not be able to consider it.
Not Having Witnesses
While you may think that certain individuals may willingly come to court to help you, this may not be the case. They may have work commitments or may simply not want to get in the middle of a legal dispute. While attorneys can compel certain witnesses to come to court through a subpoena, you may not know how to have one issued.
Not Being Able to Prove Your Case
For every claim, there are certain legal “elements” that you must be able to show. If you are defending a case, you must try to disprove these elements. Without the help of a lawyer from a recognized Miami law firm, you may not know what you need to prove in order to win your case, so your attention and resources may be diverted from the information that does matter.
In some cases, if you lose the case, you may be ordered to pay the attorney’s fees and court costs that the adverse party incurred. If you chose not to hire a lawyer for financial reasons, this can easily backfire on you if you have to pay for the other party’s lawyer even though you did not pay for your own attorney.
These many risks often mean that the end result is that you will lose your case. In many areas of the law, including personal injury law and family law, your likelihood of success without legal representation is drastically reduced when compared with your likelihood of success if you have legal representation. Before deciding to represent yourself, consider discussing your rights and options with a lawyer in the South Florida area with The Stafford Firm.