The Federation Press

Defend Yourself

Facing a charge in court


Defend Yourself is designed for those who wish to defend a charge in court. It is particularly for those who want to represent themselves; but also for those represented by a lawyer who want to better understand the criminal process. It is a signpost guide, which alerts to first principles, then encourages research.

This new second edition has been fully revised and the scope of the content has also been widened beyond NSW. The previous edition of this book was written to New South Wales - its laws, institutions and procedures. This second edition has been broadened to apply generally across Australia, but retains New South Wales as a reference point for names of institutions and details of procedures. The position in other States and Territories may be identical and will probably be very similar - but readers in those other jurisdictions should check this out for themselves.

Defend Yourself provides a wide range of information about court procedure, trials and sentencing. It will be of interest to those who find themselves in the strange and often intimidating environment of the courtroom.

Table of Contents


Arrest and Questioning

Identification and arrest
Police questioning
Detention for questioning
Custody managers
Taking forensic samples

Bail - release pending trial

Your entitlement to release on bail
Conditions on bail
Failing to appear in court


Lawyers, money and ethics
Do I need a lawyer?

Self -representation

Court Procedure

Putting things on the record
Court appearances
Court protocol
Serious charges heard summarily


Considering the implications of a guilty plea
When should I plead guilty
When should I plead not guilty
After a plea

Hearings and Trials



Collect evidence early
Obtain charge details
Research the law
Consider your defences Common law defencesStatutory defences
Investigate the prosecution evidence
Use subpoenas
Apply to have the charges dropped
Sources of legal information


Evidence and witnesses
Some important categories of evidence
Making objections
The ’voir dire’


Evidence and submissions
Possible sentencesSentences of juveniles


How to appealApplication for annulmentAppeals against convinctionAppeals to higher courts
Appeals against sentence
Special inquiries in New South Wales

Further Information

Magistrate’s Court - a typical court set-up
A jury trial - a typical court set-up
Hearing or Trial Process
Character References
WarrantsFinding the law
Understanding case law references
Legal information at your local library
Further Reading
Contact Points


Of interest...