Look, at one point or another, all of us have wondered…
Can I sue someone for (fill in the blank)?
But, when the daunting task of hiring a lawyer and dealing with court fees puts things into perspective, it can be demotivating.
However, can you sue someone in court, without a lawyer?
Well, we have good news for you!
Yes, you can. Here is what you NEED to know!
(Including 4 bonus tips you NEED to keep in mind if you do!)
You have a Right to Represent Yourself in Court
Since America’s founding, the right to represent yourself in court without a lawyer has existed.
In fact, George Washington himself signed “The Judiciary Act of 1789” into law in September 24, 1789.
Section 35 of the Judiciary Act of 1789, 1 Stat. 73, 92, declares that:
“in all the courts of the United States, the parties may plead and manage their own causes personally or by the assistance of counsel.”
Whether you want to exercise your right to be heard, or you simply need to enforce a business contract.
You can do so without a lawyer!!
But…. Should I Sue Someone Myself in Court?
Well… obviously this is a decision you will have to make.
It may be best to at least consult with an experienced attorney to see what they might suggest.
Truly, it also depends on what court the case will be heard in.
Here are a few points to keep in mind!
Small Claims Courts
Cases heard in small claims court are often heard without an attorney present for either party.
The nature of small claims court is for people to have their claims heard without incurring exorbitant legal fees.
Typically, small claims courts hear cases with damages under $2000 and up to $5000. However, some states do allow for claims of $10,000 or more.
Tennessee, for example, allows claims of up to $25,000!
Again, you must use your discretion on whether you need an attorney to represent you or not.
However, if you are willing to do the research, you can represent yourself in small claims court. Bringing forth a case without a lawyer in small claims court, is fairly common.
If you are looking to file a lawsuit and sue someone for damages that exceed your state’s maximum for small claims court…
More is at risk! And you may open up a whirlwind of trouble if you sue someone without a lawyer, and don’t know what you’re doing.
Furthermore, your case may drag on for months. Even years!
One case in the 1860’s went on for 60 years!
And representing yourself may make the case drag on longer…
If you truly can not afford a lawyer, but you are certain that you were wronged. Then suing someone yourself may be the only way.
Although this article is primarily about suing others. Sometimes, you may be counter-suing the governmental body which is raising charges against you.
Now, when you are faced with criminal charges, there is more at stake than money.
Most obviously…. you could be facing jail time.
Keep in mind! If you don’t know what you are doing, (or you are guilty) you could go to jail!!! EVEN IF YOU ARE INNOCENT. Some prosecutors don’t seek justice, they want a conviction.
Consider a Public Defender
Here’s the deal, even if you can’t afford a lawyer. You could still work with a public defender.
It’s true that public defenders get a bad rap. But if you are already considering representing yourself in court. Your public defender may be able to help you build a solid case.
Most public defenders are overworked and are not respected by their clients. As you can imagine, this can be demotivating!
However, there are many public defenders that truly want to help people. You just have to put in your end of the work!
If You Choose to Sue Someone Without a Lawyer…. Keep this in mind.
If you chose to go the “pro se” route and sue someone in court without a lawyer. You will need to be prepared!
Check out our book shop for many great books to help you prepare.
Also, here are 4 tips you may want to keep in mind if you decide to do the research…
Tip #1: Learn the Rules of Procedure for Your State
In order to file a motion in court effectively, you will need to learn the rules of the court you are to appear in.
Knowing this information can help you see exactly how the court expects you to act. And what motions you can make and when.
Tip #2: Attempt to Handle the Matter Outside of Court
Often it is much more affordable to handle a case by negotiating with your adversary, outside of court.
This will not only prevent you from paying heavy legal fees, you may find a much faster resolution. Without the headache!
Tip #3 Consider Taking an Online Course
You may want to look into taking a course on how to win in court.
CHECK IT OUT! This course by Jurisdictionary has almost everything you need to know to win in court.
Tip #4: Seek Consul When Possible
Every task has a learning curve. And law is certainly no different!!!
When possible, it may be best to consider seeking legal consul to help you win your case. Perhaps you will do most of the work. But an experienced professional’s opinion may be well worth paying for.
The Bottom line on “Can I represent Myself in Court?”
Simply put, YES.
You are free to act on your own behalf in court.
You have a right:
- To file motions,
- admit evidence,
- order the collection of property or money,
- subpoena witnesses,
- and sue someone in court, without a lawyer.
Whether it is a tiff with your neighbor, you want to sue the city for infringing on your rights, enforce a business contract, or defend yourself on criminal charges…
You have a right to represent yourself in court, WITHOUT A LAWYER!!!
It will take hard work, and a lot of study. But truly, the legal system is not as complex as it is made out to be.