It rarely, if ever is a good idea to represent yourself in a criminal trial, even if you are an attorney. As the old saying goes the doctor who treats himself has a fool for a patient, the same goes for an attorney, but in this case the man is not an attorney but a marijuana legalization activist who plans to represent himself on marijuana charges in his New Jersey trial for.
The man is on his way to New Jersey from California for his highly publicized trial on drug charges. The former Pemberton resident has been reporting on his trip on various social media websites and has been asking for gas money from supporters in various states along the way. There is one problem however; the trial date has been delayed until, maybe the first week of May.
A spokesperson from the Burlington County courts was struggling with an explanation for the delay saying she didn't know what happened to push out the date of the trial. Apparently two high-profile cases where scheduled to start on the same morning and before the same judge; the marijuana trial and that of a former Moorestown police officer accused of sexual assault.
In January of this year, the defendant, who said he plans to represent himself at his trial, allegedly promised the judge that he would not attempt to argue for the decriminalization of marijuana laws. The judge had warned him that he would not be allowed to represent himself if he intended to ask the jury to decide whether or not the laws should be changed.
In some of his social media posts he has stated he wants the jury to judge not only the facts of the case but the laws in which he is accused of violating as well. He has stated he thinks the laws are wrong. Court rules do not allow a defense to put a law on trial and the judge stated if the defendant attempts this strategy he will be stopped.
Being accused of a criminal offense, whether or not you feel the charges are warranted, should be taken very seriously. Certain drug crimes, such as possession and possession with intent to sell, can carry severe penalties, including prison time and substantial fines. Your freedom is at stake, not to mention the long-term consequences of a conviction on your criminal record, so if you have been charged with a drug crime most attorneys will advise you to contact a criminal defense attorney, before you speak with anyone else about the charges.
Source: Philly.com, "NJ Weedman arrives in New Jersey from his Calif. home for his trial on pot charges," Jan Hefler, April 6, 2012