Can I represent myself at my domestic battery arraignment? I live in Florida and currently have a petition for involuntary drug treatment petition against my 29-year-old daughter. She was court ordered to rehab but left 3 times and each time she is more and more dangerous to herself and others, evidenced by a stabbing incident a few days prior to our joint arrest for domestic battery. In my case, she had a contempt hearing stemming from her leaving rehab AMA and ACO the next day. She used drugs and then took off, I found her and was trying to get her back home (bear hug for the most part) ... because I knew if she didn't come home, she would be back on streets and might not wake up again... cops came and arrested us both... can I represent myself and what are consequences of pleading not guilty or entering a MUTE plea?
Country relating to Question: United States
State (if USA): Florida
Hello,Cases of this sort do not get decided at arraignments. While you can certainly go without a lawyer, the problem is that anything you say can be used against you. This isn't the kind of court that you see on television where you tell the judge just what is on your mind and he decides for or against you and, boom, the case is over. The only purpose of an arraignment is to apprise you of the charges against you, to ask you how you plead and, to address the issue of bail, which is likely not going to be a factor in your case. You have a fundamental right to refrain from making any incriminating statements, and since it's one of the most important Constitutional rights any one of us has, exercise it by saying absolutely NOTHING about this incident to the judge and the prosecutor in open court. For that matter, the only person you should say anything to at all about this incident will be the lawyer that I urge you to get.By both custom and necessity there is only one plea that a defendant ever makes the first time he is asked, and that is NOT GUILTY. A plea of not guilty is the only plea that keeps all of your rights and choices open so that you can be advised by an attorney and make knowing and intelligent choices about your case. Any other plea at all slams a door shut and results in a conviction. I am sure you don't want that.There is certainly possibility that when the state learns what was behind your incident that they will dismiss charges against you. However, the best and quickest way to accomplish that is to hire a lawyer, give him documentation of your daughter's medical condition and history of violence and let him talk to the prosecutor before the case gets on the calendar, if at all possible. The prosecutor would have time to check out the information and upon verification should reevaluate the case in light of it. There is no guaranteed dismissal here. It is going to come down to the facts and circumstances of the case, what the police witnessed when they arrived at the scene and also what your daughter does or doesn't corroborate. Disputes as to facts are what trials are really all about, which is why this may or may not go the way you want it. If it doesn't, by making your own record, you can harm yourself by making admissions you could end up being sorry about.So, to recap, if you can afford a criminal lawyer, retain him or her and have him with you at your arraignment. If you cannot, plead NOT GUILTY when the judge asks you how you plead and then tell him you are without the funds to hire a lawyer and ask him to please appoint you a public defense lawyer. If you just want to appear in court for yourself on the first date to see if you will really need counsel, plead not guilty, and then ask for a continuance once it becomes clear that the matter will be prosecuted. On the next date, come back with a lawyer.Criminal cases have lifetime consequences. I AM a lawyer and a pretty good one at that, and I can tell you that were I in trouble, I would never take on my own defense, no matter how much of a winner I thought my case was. There's a 6th Amendment right to counsel in the Constitution for a reason.
18 yrs of NYC public defense. Extensive arraignment, hearing, trial experience.
I will do just what you advise -- plead not guilty and then retain an attorney for the next hearing. Thank you for helping me in this matter.
-- Johnnie Easton
Hi,I apologize for the delay but I had to finish answering another customer before I could get back to you.I'm very pleased to hear you say that you will retain a lawyer. Your fallback position in court if you go there alone for your arraignment is to simply say that think you better speak to a lawyer first before making any decision. The judge and the DA will understand.I wish you the best of luck.
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