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Should I Represent Myself in Court?

November 2, 2015

If you are charged with a crime in New Jersey or are seeking an expungement, you may feel some inclination to represent yourself. However, the New Jersey Courts system itself recommends against this practice, as the court system can be highly confusing. So should you represent yourself in court or hire an attorney?

To better explain what you should and shouldn’t expect when representing yourself, the New Jersey Courts have created a helpful list. Here are some of the main points I think are important to note.

Things you can expect from the court:

  • The court can explain and answer questions about how the court works.
  • The court can tell you what the requirements are to have your case considered.
  • The court can give you some information from your case file.
  • The court can provide you with guidance on how to fill out forms.
  • The court can provide you with samples of court forms that are available.
  • The court can usually answer questions about court deadlines.

While the above list seems fairly comprehensive, consider the following points.

Things you can’t expect from the court:

  • The court cannot give you legal advice. Only your lawyer can give you legal advice.
  • The court cannot tell you whether or not you should bring your case to court.
  • The court cannot give you an opinion about what will happen if you bring your case to court.
  • The court cannot recommend a lawyer but can provide you with the telephone number of a local lawyer referral service.
  • The court cannot talk to the judge for you about what will happen in your case.
  • The court cannot let you talk to the judge outside of court.
  • The court cannot change an order issued by a judge.

When you are facing criminal charges or seeking an expungement, having an attorney on your side can help. For more information about how a New Jersey criminal defense attorney can help you navigate the criminal justice process, contact a New Jersey criminal defense and expungement attorney today.

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