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Represent yourself

A friend has been charged with possession with intent and DUI/wreckless driving with damage to property and has mental illness undiagnosed and is going to represent herself and request for a psychological evaluation. I think she is making a bad decision without a lawyer. Is it legitimate that a judge would honor this request from someone representing themselves?

Asked on December 26, 2018 under Criminal Law, Virginia

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 2 years ago | Contributor

As long as she has not been declared or found to be mentally incompetent, she can represent herself. The issue is not whether she has a mental illness--many people do; according to the National Institute of Mental Health, one in six Americans has some kind of mental illness--but whether she understands the court proceedings and can make decisions in her own interest or in line with her own desires and wishes. Since people are considered competent unless and until found to be incompetent, the presumption is that she understands what is going one, can make decisions, and so can represent herself.


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