Am I able to represent myself and do the pretrial diversion program because this is my first offense?

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Am I able to represent myself and do the pretrial diversion program because this is my first offense?

I was with a friend (no longer friends) who is on probation because of felony theft charges. We were at Walmart and he had asked me to put clothes in my purse for him, which I stupidly did. He then got caught on the security tapes of him stealing merchandise which,in turn, led to us both turning around and following the loss prevention team to the back of the store. I am nervous that, because of my “friend,” who kept pushing the court dates back because he was afraid of going to jail because he had felony charges on his record, and is also on probation, it will effect me in a negative way. I had never been to court before so I just agreed.

Asked on May 27, 2014 under Criminal Law, Tennessee

Answers:

M.D., Member, California and New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 5 years ago | Contributor

Any person charged with a crime has the right to defend themselves. However, whether you should do so is another matter. Unless you have no other choice, such as you do not qualify for a Publice Defender or you are unable to hire a private attorney, you should have legal repsresentation for this.

That having been said, if you are a first-time offender, you will probaly qualify for "diversion" or your state's equivalent. If you get it, you will serve a special probation and upon your comletion, your criminal record will be cleared. It wll be as though the incident never occurred. Again, speaking with an attorney would be best; even if you can't afford to hire them to take your case, for the cost of a consultation you can at least get some advice as to your situation.

Richard Southard / Law Office of Richard Southard

Answered 6 years ago | Contributor

Were you arrested and charged with a crime?  If so. you should not represent yourself in court any more than you would try to conduct surgery on yourself.  You are not trained and experienced enough to do so. There is an old saying: "He who represents himself in court, has a fool for a client."


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