Top 5 Must-Know Tips for Representing Yourself in Court
Every year, millions of people step into a courtroom without a lawyer. While this can be a treacherous proposition, a percentage of people manage to represent themselves successfully. Representing yourself in court is challenging but also massively cheaper than hiring a lawyer.
If you’re going to be representing yourself in court, follow these 5 tips for survival.
1. Do More Than Watch Law & Order
While you might think you could learn a lot from watching a few episodes of Law & Order, you’ll just learn how to perform for TV. You won’t be learning about the law at all.
Don’t repeat everything you see on TV. Instead, take some tie to do some research on precedents and other related outcomes. Your focus should be on finding cases like yours that were ruled in the favor of people like you.
2. Learn The Lingo
Before you yell out “objection”, you’re going to have to learn what that word means. Yelling it out randomly when you’re upset it court will make you look a little bit nutty.
When an argument is sustained, the judge won’t be stepping in. You’ll need to think fast and on your feet. You need to get to know what witnesses might say before they say it.
Make sure you’re using the right terms at all times.
3. Follow Deadlines
Court is all about formalities and most definitely about punctuality. If you need to submit any kind of evidence, you’ll need it cleared in advance. If you have paperwork to submit, make sure you don’t miss any deadlines.
Even if you’re not much of a planner, this would be the worst day to sleep in.
Make sure you have all the right legal forms that you need before you step into the courtroom. Being prepared means being prepared to win your case.
Even a straightforward divorce will have a lot of advanced deadlines for submitting any kind of evidence or paperwork.
4. Study Your Own Case
You’ll have a lot to learn before you stand before a judge. It’s more than just public speaking. You’ll have to know about what you’re being accused of, what you could be guilty of, and what you’re definitely innocent of.
By taking time to study your own case, you’ll be prepared for any line of questioning. Even if you know the witnesses who will be coming, you might not know what’s going to be asked. Knowing where they could have misstepped is part of knowing what your case is all about.
In the weeks before your trial, you should do some practice. Have your friends play the jury or the judge. Have them ask you questions that you might not be prepared to answer.
The more time you spend getting comfortable talking about your case, the more naturally your defense will be.
Representing Yourself in Court is a Challenge
If you’re thinking about representing yourself in court, you’re going to need to do a lot of reading in advance. Unless you’ve already had experience in law, most of what you’ll need to know will be completely new. However, if you’ve got a small enough case, you could end up winning.
If you’re still thinking about going with a lawyer, check out our guide to know which questions to ask them.