New Zealand Law Society - Guide for self-represented people in criminal cases released

Guide for self-represented people in criminal cases released

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The Ministry of Justice has prepared a guide for people representing themselves in criminal cases in the High Court, with tips ranging from dressing "as smartly and tidily as you can", to not swearing or using offensive language in court. 

The guide also advises against trying to use unfamiliar legal terminology: "You are not expected to know legal terms so use simple, non-legal language as much as possible. It's also a good idea to keep your sentences as short as possible."

The guide details categories of offences, types of trials, sentence indications and sentencing, jury selection, how to present evidence, what to bring to court, as well as tips on how to interact with judges. 

"Don't interrupt when the judge is speaking. It is recommended that you write down any instructions given to you by a judge."

The ministry's guide also urges people to explore free legal advice and includes links to legal aid and services such as the Citizens Advice Bureau and Community Law Centre. 

"It is recommended that you make the most of this information and assistance before electing to represent yourself in High Court proceedings," the guide says.

The ministry has also published guides on self-representation in the Family Court, civil cases in the District Court, civil cases in the High Court, Employment Court, Environment Court and the Youth Court.