Chapters

Organisations such as Community Legal Services or the Legal Aid Office may have educational material that will help the person prepare their case.

If the person wants to plead ‘not guilty’ they may first want to talk to one of these organisations in case it is possible for them to negotiate with the police prosecutor – if they are willing to plead ‘guilty’ to a lesser charge.

If the person is disputing the facts and has witnesses, they will need to organise these witnesses to appear. They need to be waiting outside the court when the person calls for them. If they can’t come, a second-best option may be to get them to sign a Statutory Declaration in front of a JP. Seek assistance from one of the organisations already mentioned as to the kind of detail that should be contained in a Statutory Declaration.

Speaking to a court is not much different to public speaking generally and there will be material on public speaking at a local library. Some people like to prepare everything they will say, write it down, or summarise it on cards. Trying out on other people what they intend to say may be useful and may make them less nervous on the day.

Nerves are always a problem. Even lawyers get nervous. Material on public speaking will often contain sections on the best way of overcoming nerves.

Magistrates will sometimes help unrepresented defendants who are running their own case, in the interests of fairness. If the magistrate suggests something to the person, it will usually be in their best interests to follow that advice.

The person should pay attention to their appearance. Be neat and clean. Conservative clothes are best.

Don’t rush. Stay calm. The person also needs to take on board the fact that they may lose. They will need to prepare material for their plea of mitigation in the event of losing.

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