Self-Representation in Criminal Matters
As we have always stated in our articles, criminal cases and legal issues can be quite complex and difficult to understand. Furthermore, lay people may not be aware of certain procedures, rules, and norms when it comes to criminal cases. As such, it is always recommended to hire a lawyer to represent you. However, defendants can file a motion with a judge in order to represent themselves. Also called pro se or pro per, the defendant can invoke their right to self-representation. However, not all defendants can represent themselves; there are legal hoops they have to jump through. While this article explains some of the necessary steps for establishing self-representation in California, we highly encourage everyone to consult an experienced criminal attorney prior to waiving their right to counsel.
Faretta Hearings and Motions
Following the Faretta v. California Supreme Court case, defendants have the right to file a motion in order to represent themselves in court. The motion has been named the Faretta motion. Based on the precedence set by Faretta v. California, the defendant can file a motion and receive a hearing and, during said hearing, the judge has to determine whether the defendant can self-represent in court. The judge must ascertain the defendant’s competence and knowledge of their legal rights. The defendant must show that the decision to self-represent was made with full knowledge and intent.
The Outcome of the Motion
A judge can, ultimately, allow self-representation or deny the motion. If the judge denies the request, the defendant has no choice other than to hire a lawyer. As well, a defendant who is granted the ability to waive counsel can subsequently hire a lawyer later on, if they choose to do so. As we mentioned above, while defendants have the right to bring forth a Faretta motion, it can be incredibly difficult to face a misdemeanor or felony charge without the prerequisite legal experience. Nonetheless, if you are considering self-representation and would like to consult us regarding your rights, contact us today and speak to one of our experienced attorneys.