Come Up Against Some Trouble? Learn How to Defend Yourself in Court
November 27 2019 - Did you know that an attorney can run you $100 to $400 an hour? You never expect to end up as the defendant in a courtroom, but if you do, there are a number of situations where you can forego costly attorney's fees and represent yourself. Not sure how?
Read on to learn how to defend yourself in court!
It's Called Pro Se
When you represent yourself in court, it's called going pro se. Pro se is a Latin phrase that translates to "in one's own behalf." Most US states guarantee their residents the ability to represent themselves in nearly all cases in state courts.
Just because the literal meaning of pro se means acting on your own behalf, it doesn't mean that there aren't options out there for you. There are tons of resources available online, court forms, that'll take some of the guesswork out of self-representation. And if you need a little extra help, there are pro se centers and law school legal clinics that can help you out.
Civil vs. Criminal
There are two types of law in the US: civil and criminal. Civil cases involve individual parties and, in some cases, may run concurrently with a criminal case in order for the victim to receive monetary damages. Criminal cases involve violations of the law and local, state, or federal government is always the plaintiff.
What does this matter? Well, different types of cases are heard in different types of courts, and each court has its own set of procedures and rules. As a pro se litigant, you will be expected to know and follow the rules and procedures just like a lawyer would.
This can be challenging but plan on relying on the clerk of the court to help you along. If you have a law library nearby that's part of a state institution, you can also spend some time searching through their materials to give you a heads up.
Save It for Minor Infractions and Small Claims
Finally, you should always choose wisely when considering going pro se. If you're going to court for a felony charge it would benefit you tremendously to consider hiring an attorney, like these criminal defense lawyers, who know the ins and the outs of the court to represent you in major criminal cases.
The same is true if you're being sued for large amounts of money. The bottom line is, attorneys spend three years in law school learning how to practice law, and they spend even more time training outside of law school. If the case is important to you, it's best to have an attorney.
Learning How to Defend Yourself in Court Is Complicated, but Not Impossible
The most important thing to know when you're learning how to defend yourself in court is when you should really opt for an attorney instead. Going pro se is a great option for traffic tickets and even some divorces. But if you have a lot to lose, then it's best to spend the money on representation.
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