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Resources to assist with representing yourself in the Local Court

This is a guide to some resources to assist you if you are charged with a criminal offence and have to represent yourself in the Local Court.

Free legal advice from Legal Aid NSW

If you are not eligible for Legal Aid NSW representation, you can still get free legal advice from one of our criminal lawyers. Everyone is entitled to receive free legal advice from Legal Aid NSW. We recommend this, especially if you are considering pleading not guilty. Contact your local Legal Aid office to find out about their advice session times and locations.

Advice sessions typically last 15-20 minutes so it is best to come prepared when you meet with us, to maximise the useF of your time. In particular it will help if you write down or type your version of events and bring it to your appointment. Also, read the police facts sheet and note anything that you disagree with and if there are any people who were witnesses to what happened. Finally, gather any documents that you think might help you to prove your case, like medical records or receipts.

Help over the phone

For free legal information, referrals and in some cases advice over the phone, call LawAccess NSW on 1300 888 529 between 9am and 5pm Monday to Friday (excluding public holidays).

Resources

There are a number of excellent resources available to assist people representing themselves on Legal Aid NSW and other websites.

Some Legal Aid publications are available in languages other than English. For example, Going to court is also available in Arabic, Chinese and Vietnamese. Check the Legal Aid NSW website under Factsheets and Resources to see which publications are available in which languages.

General resources

  • LawAssist is a website for people who have a legal problem in NSW and are representing themselves. It is maintained by LawAccess NSW. The site includes information about Apprehended Violence Orders (AVOs) and fines matters
  • The Law Handbook is available online through the Legal Answers website. Chapter 14 is about Criminal Court process and representing yourself in court.
  • Going to court - a Legal Aid NSW booklet covering all the basics for defendants in criminal matters.
     

Running a defended hearing (pleading not guilty)

  • LawAssist has published some short videos together with other information demonstrating what you need to do and say in court at the various stages of a defended matter. See Pleading not guilty and Arguing your case.
  • Defend yourself: facing a charge in court, 2nd edition, Tim Anderson.
  • Police powers - Legal Aid NSW. This booklet sets out your rights and responsibilities when dealing with police. It may help you if you have been charged with an offence involving police such as hindering, resisting or assaulting police.

Sentence (pleading guilty or after being found guilty)

  • LawAssist has a webpage and video demonstrating what you need to do and say in court when representing yourself and pleading guilty to an offence. See Preparing for court (pleading guilty) - Step by step guide and Presenting your guilty plea at court - Step by step guide.
  • Guilty your Honour: representing yourself in NSW local courts when charged with drink driving, by Helen Walsh. Despite the title, some of this information applies when pleading guilty to other charges in the Local Court.
  • Drink driving and Drugs, driving and you, Legal Aid NSW. Brochures about how to represent yourself if you are pleading guilty to drink-driving or DUI offences.
  • Character references, Legal Aid NSW. A brochure about when to get a character reference and what they should contain.

Appealing

  • Reviewing Local Court decision, Legal Aid NSW. A booklet about the process to use if the Court has convicted you of an offence because you missed court.
  • Appealing to the District Court, Legal Aid NSW. A brochure about how to appeal to the District Court if you are unhappy with a Local Court conviction or sentence.

Additional resources

  • LawAccess Online provides legal information about a wide range of topics including crime and going to court. It operates in conjunction with the telephone information and referral service that LawAccess NSW provides.
  • Find Legal Answers website is managed by the Legal Information Access Centre, State Library of NSW. It contains links to lots of online resources by topic: see especially Representing Yourself. It also links you to useful books you can borrow from your public library - ask for the Find Legal Answers Tool Kit.
  • NSW Legislation. This website reproduces legislation so you can look up the offence that you have been charged with. The name and section of the Act that you have been charged with will be listed on your Court Attendance Notice (CAN) or charge sheet.

Lawyers

If you decide to engage a lawyer, you may find these publications helpful: