I also have to echo JK. One can research case law and write briefs. Knowing court procedure is an entirely different thing. It is not generally online and is not easy to research. Sure you can read state or federal civil procedure but that is hardly adequate. Civil rules of procedure with case law, called annotated case law, is always in a form you have to pay for, and not cheap. It is only by reading the annotations that you really can know what the rule means and how it is applied. The rules of procedure and how things actually work in court are the biggest roadblocks to pro se litigants, civil is tuff enough, but criminal doesn't allow any error without serious consequences.
A pro se litigant is never going to be able to make ANY deal with the prosecutor other than pleading guilty and asking for mercy.
I also must add a few things on deals and sentencing.
You have to do some reseach and see if the deal that is offered is really a deal. I mean, for your guilty plea you might be agreeing to a sentence that you would get anyway, even if you took it to trial and were convicted.
Even if a guideline free state, you are not likely to get the maximum. However, in the federal system and every state I have heard of, there are a number of things that determine the sentence. That is why they do presentence reports. There are guidelines for all this stuff. There are guidelines, based on various factors, including your conviction record, that limit the sentences given out by judges. Any deviation from the guildelines has to be very well justified by the judge on the record, assuming the statute allows any deviation. In other words, you might not be getting any deal at all.
Some deals are fraudulent too. I mean they offer you a deal but don't reveal secondary consequences. A common one is that if illegal, you will be deported. Another biggie is that a certain offense is classified differently or used differently and that has the consequence of enhancing the sentence.
Someone I know for intance pleaded guilty to bank robbery for a certain sentence recommendation. Then the government decided after that, one of his previous convictions had been wrongly classfied. They decided that because his get-away car had rolled over the foot of a police officer (after he leaped out of it) that changed the classification of that offense. The police officer was not actually injured by said roll over.
But because the classification of that offense was changed, the sentence also changed as a consequence. There are lots of crimes and sentences that enhance the punishment for crimes that follow. So to make a long story short, because the classification of the crime changed, instead of getting the 15 years agreed upon, he got sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole. Now, who the hell would plead guilty to anything with the consequence of life in prison without parole? Lots of gotchas if you are not very lucky or careful.
Thus, a deal might not be much of a deal at all. Another ploy is to overcharge someone and offer to drop the bogus charges for a plea deal. Chances are they would be dismissed before or at trial anyway.
Most crimes have multiple elements. Most crimes require the state to prove a criminal intent. Usually that is easy to do by the defendant's actions or words, but not always. Unless the state can prove a criminal intent, the jury can not find the defendant guilty.
One of my favorites is conspiracy. It used to be under federal law a conspiracy took two actual conspirators. Thus thre was no conspiracy between one person and a police agent as the police agent was not a true conspirator, thus a federal charge of conspiracy would fail. No problem, Congress just changes the law allowing unilateral conspiracies. Now you can have a conspiracy with yourself and be guilty of a federal crime.
My point is, there are so many things involved in a criminal case, one has to have an attorney and there is no way around that. If it is a federal case, that statement is in spades.
My point is, do your own presentence report and see what the judge can actually sentence you to. If you go to trial, just because the government is pissed at you and asks for the max doesn't mean you will get that. You will get something in the guildeline range and your background and other factors will determine where in that range the judg goes. The recommendation of the prosecutor is usually mostly meaningless.