Working as a reporter years ago, I covered a lot of courtroom dramas and I can tell you the most important thing I learned from all those days of sitting in court taking notes: do not EVER go to court without the best lawyer you can find.
I saw identical “crimes” presented in the same courtroom to the same judge and honest to GOD, the cases where the defendant represented themselves or waived the right to an attorney ALWAYS got a worse outcome than those who came with a lawyer – even with the exact same excuse, I mean, defense. And in most cases, those with a lawyer had the benefit of back room dealmaking so that all the judge had to do was bless the agreement between the D.A. and the defense attorney. Those without a deal got the shaft after their case was heard.