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Practical tips for representing yourself

The first step to successful self-representation in court

Is to have an acquired knowledge of the traffic laws. Provisions of law including the possible defences against drink driving can be searched in the internet. The first step then is to roll up your sleeves and study.

The second step is to plan your strategy

Whether to plead guilty or defend yourself against the charge. It would be understandable if first time offenders will plead guilty to the charge since only the minimum penalties are imposed for first time offenses. Habitual offenders might not opt to plead guilty because of the grave penalties. If you intend to proceed to trial, you may challenge the PCA reading against you, invoke the habitual and reasonable mistake defence or raise other defences applicable to your case.

The third step entails preparing for your court appearance.

It is advisable that you study the rules of court so that you will be informed of the court processes. Try going to court prior to your court schedule and watch the hearings conducted. Observe the conduct of the lawyers and litigants. Watch how the lawyers conduct their cross examination and how they present their evidence. Then while you’re at the court, drop by their office and make some inquiries. There might be certain court forms that you need to fill up or requirements that you need to comply with before your court schedule.

Before going to court you must be ready with your statement. So, the fourth step is to prepare for what you have to say in court. If you are inexperienced in court appearances, make a list of all the things that you need to say. This is to avoid divulging matters that are detrimental to your case.

The fifth step depends on the strategy that you developed for your case.  

You are now at the evidence presentation stage. If you intend to plead guilty then show to the court why only the minimum penalty should be imposed. To further mitigate the case against you, present character references from your employers or neighbours attesting to your good behaviour. Emphasize to the court the necessity of your license to your employment. However, if you are decided on fighting it out in court then you better exercise your right to remain silent until it is your turn for cross examination and presentation of evidence.

The sentencing is the last step.

There are only two things that can happen in a court case. You either win or lose. Losing the case or entering a plea of guilt means receiving a penalty from the court. Make sure to observe the proper decorum during sentencing. Do not make any outward signs of displeasure. If you are unhappy with the penalty imposed then you have the option of filing an appeal.

Practicality sometimes dictates that we take our case in our own hands. Handling your own case allows you to have more control over its progress. A big plus to self-representation in court is that it is cost effective. You don’t have to deal with lawyers and their fees. Just remember that confidence is in preparation and you’ll do fine.

Disclaimer : This article is just a summary of the subject matter being discussed and should not be regarded as a comprehensive legal advice for you to defend yourself alone. If you are charged with criminal offences, it is recommended that you seek legal assistance from criminal lawyers.

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