Prior Cases

  • R v. R.B –  Acquittal of a motorist with a judicial finding of police misconduct leading to an abuse of process with the judge commenting on Robert Yeo’s cross examination of the officer as follows:
  • Acquittal for Vancouver Island hotel owner in British Columbia Supreme Court sexual assault trial;
  • Acquittal in million-dollar kidnap scheme.
  • Acquittal of helicopter pilot in impaired driving case;
  • Acquittals of accused in Dangerous Driving Causing Bodily Harm case;
  • Acquittal of local realtor in impaired driving case;
  • Acquittal of search and rescue pilot in impaired driving case;

Areas of Practice

  • Criminal Law
  • Civil Cases
  • Impaired Driving
  • ICBC & Personal Injury
  • Motor Vehicle Offences
  • Personal Assault
  • Drug Offences
  • Theft & Fraud
  • Fisheries and Wildlife offences

3 Reasons Why Representing Yourself in a Criminal Trial is a Really Bad Idea

Though you have the right to not have an attorney present whenever you are facing a criminal trial, representing yourself is never a good idea and is often akin to legal suicide. You owe it to yourself to at least consult with an attorney specializing in criminal representation before you make the decision to represent yourself. Let’s take a look at why you should never act as your own attorney in a criminal trial.

Reason 1. Criminal trial are incredibly complex.

Criminal trials hinge upon evidence. If the Crown has enough evidence to show beyond a reasonable doubt that you committed each element of the crime you’ve been charged with, you are guilty of that crime. But what counts as evidence? When can it be brought into a criminal trial? And how?

The answer to these questions depend on the laws, your knowledge, and your ability to keep the prosecution from introducing evidence that isn’t allowed. It’s up to you to object when the Crown Attorney does something against the rules in a criminal trial. But in order to object, you first have to understand the rules. If you don’t, the prosecutor may walk all over you.

Take, for example, the use of hearsay in a criminal trial. Hearsay is what someone claims another person says, but the person who originally said it is not in court to testify about it. Hearsay isn’t usually allowed in trials, but there are 11 traditional exceptions that allow certain types of hearsay to be entered as evidence. Each of these 11 exceptions has its own legal requirements that have to be met before a court will allow the hearsay evidence. Do you know what these exceptions are and when they are allowed? Do you know how to make an objection if the state violates a hearsay rule? If not, you may have just lost your case.

2. You are a criminal.

That’s what everyone in the courtroom is thinking. Yes, the judge is a professional member of the judiciary and knows that you are innocent until proven guilty. But what about the jury? How likely are they to believe you as they listen to your arguments? After all, most good people never commit a crime, and since you’ve been charged with a crime that means you aren’t a good person, doesn’t it? No, but that is what a lot of people think.

It can be almost impossible to overcome a perception of guilt even if the jury members don’t acknowledge or even know it is there. However, experienced defense attorneys are experts at persuasion and conducting trials. An attorney providing an accused criminal representation is much different in the eyes of the jury than a  defendant making the exact same argument.

Reason 3. You don’t get special treatment.

If you represent yourself in a criminal trial, the court may grant you some leeway as you proceed through trial, but only to a very limited extent. Otherwise, you will be expected to know the law and courtroom procedures just as an attorney would. You may be able to have a “McKenzie friend” assist you, but this is no substitute for an attorney. The judge isn’t there to try your case for you and cannot give you legal advice.

When can you object? When can you ask a leading question? What exactly qualifies someone to offer expert testimony?

If you don’t know the answers you cannot look to the court for help. It takes lawyers years of education and experience to become familiar with the laws and to be able to effectively use them in a criminal trial. The Crown’s Attorney is an experienced professional. When you choose to defend yourself in a criminal trial, you are going up against professional attorneys whose goal is to convict you. This one reason should be enough to convince you that you need to hire a lawyer regardless of what you believe about your case.