Free Case Evaluation

Please fill out the following form to get a Free Case Evaluation.

  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

Email Signup

Please fill out the following form to sign up for email updates.

  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

Plant City Criminal Lawyers: What is standby counsel?

One of the inherent rights provided defendants in the American criminal justice system is the right to represent oneself in a criminal proceeding.  While many folks choose to retain a Plant City Criminal Lawyers, many folks simply choose not to for a variety of reasons.  Obviously, one is in a much better situation, if they are represented by a criminal lawyer in a criminal court.  Regardless these folks are known as pro se litigants because they do not have the assistance of an attorney and are representing themselves.  Often times, courts will appoint “standby counsel” to assist these folks through their trial.  This appointment serves essentially two purposes during the proceeding.

First, standby counsel is intended to assist the pro se individual with the technical aspects of a criminal trial, including the admission of evidence, structure and timeline of the trial, other procedural issues, etc.  Many folks, who have never sat through a criminal trial, have no idea the order of presentation of evidence, rules concerning where to address the court and witnesses, etc.  Standby counsel is intended to fill in these blanks of the “how to” issues, rather than substantive areas of the defense, which the pro se litigant determines.  Further, standby counsel is there to assist the pro se litigant with any legal questions, they may have during the trial.

Secondly, standby counsel is intended to limit potential appellate issues.  As we have discussed elsewhere on our Plant City Criminal Lawyers’ blog, many appellate issues are based on ineffective assistance of counsel claims under Florida Rule of Criminal Procedure 3.850.  By choosing to represent yourself, they are essentially waiving those claims in the future.  Standby counsel is present to assist in otherwise persevering and minimizing appellant issues as much as possible.  Many courts believe the presence of standby counsel will work to minimize potential appellant issues during the criminal trial.  It is worth noting that if you choose to represent yourself, you still have the opportunity to “testify” in the form of a statement to the jury and court, since you obviously couldn’t really ask yourself questions, but the State Attorney’s Office does get the chance to cross examine you concerning your statement.  Frankly, this leads to one of the most awkward parts of a criminal trial, where the pro se litigant testified through a prepared statement, then is questioned by the prosecution.

If you or someone you know has questions concerning the consequences and pitfalls of representing yourself, contact the Plant City Criminal Lawyers of Hackworth Law for a free case consultation.  We have handled thousands of criminal cases throughout the Tampa Bay Area, including cases similar to your situation.  If you would like to contact one of our Plant City Criminal Lawyers immediately, please use the “contact us now” tab in the upper right hand corner of our website.  We appreciate your time in checking out our Tampa criminal defense attorney blog and look forward to hearing from you.