Can I represent myself?
Going to court with a private lawyer can be an expensive exercise. There are a great many people who fall into the category where Legal Aid is not an option and a private lawyer is out of reach.
So, to answer the question, can I represent myself? Yes, you can. Assuming your matter is a plea of guilty, we have set out some points for your consideration below. If the matter is a plea of not guilty the potential issues are so varied and expansive as to be beyond the scope of this page.
If you are going to represent yourself, you will need to prepare. The first thing is to read the material the police have provided to you. Do you understand what you are being charged with and what your conduct is that is said to have committed the offence?
Do you understand the law, both the law of the offence you are said to have committed and the law about what can be said and done in court?
Is there anything about what the prosecution are saying that you do not agree with? It may be a factual disagreement or an evidential agreement. Have you approached the prosecutor in advance of court to negotiate this issue or issues?
Have you gathered your material for court and presentation to the magistrate or judge? Have you collected up character references? Examples of community or charitable work? Expert reports? Have you served any expert reports on the court and prosecution within the time frame required?
Have you read, read and re-read the material you are going to produce to the court? Do you understand it fully? Do you know who says what and why and in what document?
Have you practised what you want to say to the court? Literally, have you stood in front of a mirror or a family member or friend and practised what you are going to say. Standing at the front of the court with the magistrate or judge and everyone else in the room hanging on your every word.
Have you thought ahead to what you will do or say if there is an objection to your material by the prosecutor? Do you know how to persuasively argue your point to win the day? Have you thought about what questions the magistrate or judge might ask you? Do you have the answers ready or know where to find them in the material?
Do you know what decision you want the magistrate or judge to make? Do you know and understand what decisions the magistrate or judge can make? Are there any particular circumstances you want to bring to the court’s attention to get you to the position you want to achieve? Are your arguments persuasive or aggressive? The former is essential and the later fatal.
You can represent yourself. If you can answer the questions above, positively, perhaps you should represent yourself.
However, what you may be missing out on is the credibility and experience a trusted and known advocate brings to the mix.
If you have been charged with an offence, and you would like assistance to understand your options, including representing yourself in court, J Sutton Associates, have NSW Law Society recognised Accredited Specialists in criminal law, with decades of experience acting for people in these situations. Call (02) 8080 8055 for personalised advice and service.