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Can you appear on my behalf at trial?

Yes, but it’s a bad idea. Although an attorney may appear on behalf of a client at their misdemeanor trial, this is usually a bad strategy for a few reasons. If jury members are being forced to take time away from their lives to attend a trial, they usually will not appreciate a defendant not showing up. Even if there are legitimate hardships preventing a defendant from attending their trial, to the jury It implies a lack of interest from the defendant, and jurors may think, “if the defendant doesn’t even care about their own case, why should I?”

Although cases are supposed to be decided on the facts and the law, you don’t want a jury to resent you for some irrelevant reason that biases them against your case.

In addition, I am constantly discussing the facts of the case with my clients during trial. No matter how much an attorney prepares, new things will always pop up, and often the client is in the best position to help the attorney understand some detail about the incident, so the attorney can respond in real time.

Finally, although a defendant cannot be compelled to testify in their own case, there are many times when it is the smart thing to do, because only they are in a position to tell their side of the story. Even if you don’t testify, you still want the jury to see you as a real person in front of them, not some name on a jury verdict.

In rare circumstances it might make sense or be understandable why a defendant would not want to attend their own trial, but the general rule that applies in the vast majority of circumstances is that personal attendance is necessary.