Can you represent yourself in court… And should you?
If you have a matter that requires you to appear before the court, and you’re thinking about representing yourself, then this article is for you. Someone who represents themselves in court can be called an unrepresented defendant or a self-represented defendant.
We want to explain the pros and cons of self-representation in legal matters and show you how the court process happens. Some of the more common matters for which you might consider representing yourself are:
- First offences;
- Drink driving charges; or
- Traffic matters
To assist with your understanding of the process, we would like to offer some advice and guidance on appearing in court. But when your freedom or licence is at stake, it is worth considering a criminal defence lawyer as someone to have on your side.
If you are seeking comprehensive and trusted legal advice from experienced criminal lawyer, contact Hounsell Cunningham now on (07) 3188 5626.
Can I self-represent?
Anyone can represent themselves in court, but some cases are more difficult than others, especially if the matter is being heard in a superior court, or if the circumstances are complex. It may be wise to consider legal representation if English is not your first language, or if you have a physical, mental, or intellectual disability or illness.
There is no benefit or leniency which is afforded to those who do choose to self-represent; a Magistrate or Judge is required to hear the facts of a matter and provide a decision based on those facts and the information before them. The benefit of working with a criminal lawyer is that a lawyer understands the court process and can assist you in putting your matter forward in a way that meets court proceedings.
Can a friend or family member help in self-representation?
You can get assistance in court from a friend or relative, and they are able to attend the hearing with you. They will however not usually be given permission to speak on your behalf. There must be exceptional circumstances to allow for them to speak for you.
Some practical advice and tips if you are considering self-representation
The first tip that we have if you are considering self-representation is to get some legal advice. There are many services that provide free legal advice about what you may be going to go through, and these are available over the phone and in person. At Hounsell Cunningham we offer a free initial consultation so can provide you with advice in relation to your matter prior to your court appearance.
If you can, attend a similar hearing to yours and watch the court process take place it will be beneficial to you when you ultimately need to appear.
When your day in court arrives, make sure you seek out a court volunteer. They can advise you of where to go and who to speak too prior to your matter being heard.
Finally, it is important to know that you should always address a Magistrate or a Judge as “Your Honour” when you appear.
Contact us for legal advice and representation in court
While it is possible to represent yourself in court, it is important to understand that the court process can be complicated, and you will need to speak in court and address a Magistrate or Judge — something which can cause anxiety or distress. For this reason, many people elect to pay a criminal lawyer to appear on their behalf. Not only do we understand how the process operates, but we can advocate on your behalf and provide support throughout the entire process.
If you are seeking comprehensive and trusted legal advice from experienced criminal lawyer contact Hounsell Cunningham now on (07) 3188 5626.