What Happens If I Go To Court Without A Lawyer?

Particia MaldonadoJanuary 20, 2024

In case you do not have a lawyer (a solicitor or barrister), it is possible for you to defend yourself in court or before a tribunal. A person who represents themselves in court is known as a "litigant in person.". 

Taking Someone With You To The Hearing

You can bring someone with you to the courtroom when your case is heard (referred to as the hearing). You can, for example, take the following:

  • An adviser for Citizens Advice
  • a law center worker
  • a friend
  • a family member

The person you bring with you is called a 'McKenzie Friend.' In addition to providing support, taking notes, and assisting with paperwork, they are also able to assist.

Consult them about what's going on in court and about legal matters - if they work for an organization like a law center, they should be able to assist you.

In order to have the person speak for you, you must let the court know before the hearing. A judge decides whether the person you bring to court can speak on your behalf.

A Non-Lawyer's Guide To Proceeding

Here’s how you should process if you go to court without a lawyer:

Dress Appropriately

Respecting the court is essential if you want things to go smoothly. Wear slacks and a button-up for men at a minimum if you want to look professional. It usually involves a dress, skirt, or slacks, as well as a nice blouse for women.

Get To The Court Early

There is nothing more irritating to judges than tardiness. In addition, it will give you time to look at your surroundings and ensure you are in the correct courtroom.

Talk To The Court Clerk

Consult the Court clerk to ensure you are in the correct courtroom. It is important to be polite to the court clerk, as they are in constant communication with the judge, and you do not want the clerk to tell the judge that you have been rude. 

It is not a good idea to ask the court clerk about your particular case or crime. They don't know you, and they don't care. It is possible that they will give you incorrect advice because they are not attorneys.

Sit Down And Watch

When you arrive early, don't be the first one in line. Look at a few people and get an idea of what the judge will ask you. In most cases, your first appearance (on criminal charges) is an initial court appearance. At your arraignment, the judge will tell you what you're charged with as well as ask how you wish to plead. Make sure you plead not guilty.

Ask For A Lawyer

It is now time for you to take action to protect yourself. In the case that you cannot afford a lawyer and are charged with a crime, a lawyer will generally be appointed to represent you by the court. 

It is advisable to hire your own lawyer if you are able to afford one. If you wanted to undergo surgery, you would hire a doctor. Hire a lawyer rather than go to court by yourself.

Ask For More Time

It is almost universally the case that a judge will grant you more time if you ask for it. Ask for more time and make an appointment with a lawyer. The majority of criminal defense lawyers offer free consultations. Respect the judge by being polite and refrain from interrupting.

Would you like to know what to ask a lawyer before hiring? Read our blog to learn.

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