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How to Represent Yourself in Court

Criminal Law Blog by The Law Office of Greg Tsioros

How to Represent Yourself in Court

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Representing Yourself in Texas Court

People may choose to represent themselves in court for a variety of reasons. For example, they may feel that they cannot afford adequate legal representation or that the attorney provided by the state can’t handle their case. They may believe that their lawyer is unable to assist them or that they have a deeper understanding of the case that the lawyer lacks. Whatever the reason, choosing to defend yourself in court is a huge undertaking and it can be extremely complex and difficult.

Although it is very difficult to plan, build and use a legal defense without a lawyer’s help, it is possible. Following a few strategies can help make this process easier to understand.

How To Represent Yourself

When a defendant has been charged with a crime and made the decision to represent themselves in court, they must follow a specific procedure. The U.S. Constitution guarantees that anyone who has been accused of a crime has the right to competent legal representation. This also means that a person has the right to represent themselves. However, they must formally request permission to do so. The time to ask the court to allow self representation is during the arraignment. This phase of the court process is used to explain the charges to the defendant and appoint an attorney. During this time, the defendant can ask to court to represent themselves “pro se“, or without an attorney.

If the court grants permission, the pro se representation can proceed. If the judge believes that the defendant is not competent enough for self representation, he can deny the request and order a court appointed attorney to take over the defendant’s case.

The judge may also appoint a standby attorney for a pro se defendant. This is to ensure that the defendant has assistance so that the trial can proceed efficiently.

Pro Se Requirements

A person who chooses to represent themselves in court will face a large number of challenges. They will be responsible for overseeing nearly every aspect of their case. They will also be responsible for all of the tasks involved in day-to-day courtroom matters. They will have to handle:

  • Filing paperwork, such as motions to suppress evidence or requests for documents
  • Collecting, studying and presenting evidence
  • Interviewing witnesses on the stand
  • Hiring investigators or requesting police reports

In short, self representation means taking on a huge amount of work. It’s not a task that should be taken on lightly. Although it is definitely possible to win a pro se case, it will certainly not be easy.

Pro Se or Attorney?

There are times when self-representation may work well and times when it might be a bad idea. Making this tough decision is up to the defendant but there are some things that should be considered. For example, self representation might be a bad idea if:

In general, it’s always a good idea to hire an experienced defense attorney for any trial. An attorney has the experience and training to build a strong defense. More importantly, lawyers have the resources and support to work on a case for weeks or months at a time. An individual person might quickly become overwhelmed with the sheer volume of work that goes into an average defense case.

It’s true that an attorney might seem too expensive. However, when that cost is weighed against the value of freedom and a clear criminal record, the cost is easily justified. Anyone who is considering representing themselves in court should at least consult with an attorney first so that they can consider all legal options available to them.

Attorney Greg Tsioros can the strong, yet affordable, legal defense you need in a time of need. If you need legal help, contact his office today at (832) 752-5972.

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