Should I Represent Myself In Court?
If you wish to be placed in the best possible position with regard to your matter, you should engage a criminal defence lawyer.
The Advantages Of Legal Representation
A good criminal solicitor will:
- Advise you on the nature of your charges, the benefits of entering a plea of guilty and what sentence you may receive;
- Advise you on the strength of the case against you, and any available defence;
- If you are bail refused, advise you on the likelihood of you making a successful bail application; and
- Represent you in court
The advantage of a solicitor representing you stems from the complexity of New South Wales’ criminal justice system. Most persons with limited legal knowledge have great difficulty in coming to terms with the complexity and formality of the legal process through which criminal liability is decided and sentences are handed down.
Experienced criminal solicitors appear in court regularly. They will be aware of the expectations of Magistrates and Judges, and this experience will assist you in getting the best result.
What If I Decide To Represent Myself?
While we do not recommend representing yourself in criminal or traffic proceedings, here are some tips if you do decide to represent yourself:
- Be prepared: Do your research on the offence/s you have been charged with and what sentence can be imposed upon you. If you are intending to plead guilty, make sure you obtain any documents that may be helpful to the court in determining a favourable outcome.
- Be respectful: When your matter is called, stand up and approach the microphone near the bar table. When the Magistrate asks you questions, speak clearly. Do not talk over the Magistrate or the prosecutor. Wait until you have been given an opportunity to talk. Do not insult or act aggressively to the Magistrate, prosecutor or anyone in court with you.
- Do not be afraid to apply for an adjournment: If you are not ready to have your case heard, or you wish to obtain legal advice, you can apply for an adjournment. If it is your first day in Court for the matter, the Court would ordinarily grant you application to adjourn the matter.
Other resources for first time offenders
Will I Go To Jail For A First Offence?
What Are The Penalties For Drug Possession In NSW?
Is A Drink Driving Charge Listed On A Criminal Record?