Representing Yourself In Court: What You Need To Know Before Waiving Your Right To Counsel

21 January 2015
 Categories: Law, Blog


Are you thinking about representing yourself in a criminal court case? If so, there are a few facts that you should know before choosing to take this route. Taking the time to review the facts below can help to ensure that you are really making the best decision possible regarding your need for counsel.

Fact: You May Qualify For Free Or Low-Cost Legal Services

If your primary motivation for representing yourself is financial, you should know that you may be eligible for free or low-cost legal services. These legal services are made available to individuals who do not have the financial ability to pay for the services of a private attorney. If you are currently living on a very limited budget, simply inform the court of your desire to have a public defender assigned to your case. While you will be required to provide proof of your current income in order to receive these services, the overall process of retaining counsel in this manner will typically be both fast and easy.

Fact: A Lawyer May Be Assigned To Oversee Your Defense

Depending upon the seriousness of the charges against you, the judge may choose to assign a lawyer to oversee your defense, even if you have waived your right to counsel. This is because while you have every legal right to represent yourself in court, you will still be required to abide by the rules of the court when presenting evidence and calling witnesses. Since most average citizens are unfamiliar with proper courtroom procedure, a lawyer may be assigned to advise you of these rules as you prepare to present your case. In this situation, it is important to note that while you will have access to an attorney, you will not receive any of the protections that come along with a typical attorney/client relationship, such as privileged communications.

Fact: You Will Need To Waive Certain Appeal Rights

When hiring an attorney to represent you, you will be able to appeal the verdict in your case if you are able to prove that your attorney failed to represent you to the best of their ability. This legal maneuver is known as appealing on the grounds of insufficient counsel. When choosing to represent yourself, this option will not be available to you, despite the fact that you will likely receive a less-than-ideal defense. Consequently, if your decision to represent yourself does not work out the way you originally desired, you may find that your options for appealing that outcome are very limited.

Should you choose to hire legal help, experts like Robert A Murray can guide you.