Yes, you can take your case to trial without hiring an attorney — usually. In most situations, you can act on your own behalf during trial. This means you can direct your witness by asking them questions, cross-examine the State’s witnesses by asking questions, and testify if you choose to take the stand.
Is it a good idea? Probably not. First, the rules of evidence apply in court. It takes a long time to learn and fully understand these rules. For example, many people have heard the term “hearsay,” but do not know there are many exceptions to when a statement can be admitted. Additionally, many people do not realize most exhibits must be authenticated before being admitted.
However, this does not mean you will lose your case if you choose to represent yourself. Sometimes, representing yourself is the only option available, and that is very well understood by the courts.
There are a small number of situations where a judge will not permit you to represent yourself. This may occur if there are medical issues, the case is particularly complicated, or the defendant is a juvenile.
If you cannot afford an attorney in criminal court, you can request to fill out an affidavit listing your monthly expenses. You may qualify for court-appointed counsel, which offers you an attorney at a lower rate. The judge will explain this to you when you apply for counsel.
The criminal defense attorneys at Guirguis Law understand it is often difficult to afford a lawyer. For many cases, we offer payment plans to help ease the burden of hiring an attorney. Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information about how we can help you.