Do you want to represent yourself in court? You’re not alone. It is quite common for clients to try and represent themselves in a trial or in court because they don’t like what the attorney has to say about their case, what evidence is relevant, and on what the attorney chooses to focus.
However, this is a great mistake. Just because you don’t like what your attorney is saying, doesn’t mean they aren’t right. In fact, they probably are.
The importance of having an attorney during a trial is greater than anyone can imagine. There is a lot that goes into having a jury trial. From proper etiquette in the courtroom to rules of evidence, there is a rule and a procedure for everything — and all of it can be very confusing for someone who does not have a law degree.
If you do decide to forgo an attorney, the court must give you an advisement in order for you to represent yourself in court. Here is an example of that advisement:
Trial Advisement Example
- You do not have an attorney. You have the right to be represented by an attorney. If you cannot afford an attorney and you are facing a possible jail sentence, you are entitled to have a free lawyer appointed to represent you. If you want a free attorney appointed, you must ask the court to do so. The Court will appoint a free attorney to represent you if you are eligible.
- This is your constitutional right. It is in your best interest to get an attorney.
- You have the right to represent yourself without an attorney. However, it is a great help to have an attorney trained in the law and experienced in the courtroom to prepare and represent your defense. Criminal law is complicated. The judge must follow the law in the case. This includes following rules of evidence and rules of procedure. These rules can be hard to understand. You are not trained in law. Since you are not trained in the law you will be at a great disadvantage without an attorney. The judge is not allowed to help you during the trial.
- Being accused of a crime puts you at a disadvantage from the beginning. If you do not understand rules of evidence and procedure it will be nearly impossible for you defend yourself. The law is not set up to make it easy on defendants. The law is set up to prosecute people, not keep them out of jail.
- You have the right to obtain police reports and other documents related to your case. The Deputy District Attorney will inform you about how to obtain these documents.
- It is imperative that you get these documents. This is the only way to fully prepare yourself for a jury trial as this is the evidence in the case against you.
- You have certain duties in this case. For example, you must inform the prosecutor in writing of the nature of any defense you may have (such as self-defense, defense of others, defense of property, or mistake of fact) at least seven days before trial. You must also provide the prosecutor in writing with the names and addresses of any witnesses you will call in your defense at least seven days before trial. If your defense is alibi (that you were in a different place then the location of where the crime occurred) you must notify the prosecutor in writing at least 30 days before trial, explaining where you were and the names and addresses of any witnesses you will call in your defense. If you do not make these disclosures within the time limits, you may be prevented from introducing your evidence at trial.
- These are just a few examples of the complexities of rules of evidence and rules of procedure. You may think you have a really strong case because of a piece of evidence, just to find out that it can’t be used at trial.
- If your case proceeds to trial, you must be ready for trial. At the trial, you will have the right to confront and question the prosecution’s witnesses. You also have the right to present evidence and witnesses of your own at the trial. You have the right to force your witnesses to come to court by serving a subpoena. If you want a subpoena for any witness the court clerk will give you a subpoena. Then it is up to you to make sure the subpoena is properly given to the witness. If your witness does not come to the trial you will not be entitled to ask the court to reschedule the case unless you can prove the witness was properly subpoenaed. You also have the right to testify or not testify in your own trial.
- You have the right to remain silent. Anything you say about this case can and will be used against you, except if you tell your attorney.
- You may discuss your case briefly with the public defender today before you make a decision whether to represent yourself.
How to Get an Attorney
Attorneys are here to help YOU. They know what they need to do and how they need to do it when it comes to trial. The system is not as fair as you think it is. Allow M. Colin Bresee to represent you in a trial. He is experienced in prosecuting as well as defense. He knows the rules of criminal procedure and evidence like the back of his hand. You can rest assured that your rights will be taken care of and that your best interest is in good hands. Contact him today for a consultation.