Yes, there are unique rights connected with a defendant in a criminal case. The notice of rights is both a notice and an inquiry which is conducted by the judge. The Court will inquire whether the Defendant is aware of the following:
- Right to Counsel – the Defendant's awareness of his or her right to hire counsel or, if the defendant meets the statutory guidelines, for the appointment of one. The Defendant may choose to waive counsel.
- The right to present defense to these charges? Do you know what those defenses are under the law?
- The right to present any mitigating evidence in regard to these charges?
- This Court strongly advises you against proceeding without an attorney?
- If you are indigent, that is you have no funds to hire an attorney and you meet the income guidelines for appointed counsel, that this Court will appoint an attorney to represent you if you wish. This attorney can be appointed before your hearing.
- This Court cannot assist you in the presentation of your case.
When the Defendant chooses to proceed without an attorney, the Court will inquire and advise the defendant of the following:
- If you proceed without an attorney, you will be held to the same legal standards as an attorney in the presentation of your case?
- Your failure to raise or challenge issues before this court will hurt or even foreclose issues to you in a higher court or on appeal?
- How far did you go in school? Do you have any legal training, formal or informal?
- Is your decision to represent yourself made freely and voluntarily?
- Are you representing to this Court that this decision is made knowingly and intelligently by you?
These questions should help you analyze whether you should hire an attorney or apply for appointed counsel. Cases will not be continued because of a failure to timely hire an attorney or a failure to timely apply for appointed counsel.
Additional Rights of Persons Accused of Crimes
The Accused has the right to remain silent and any testimony given by the Accused may be used against him or her. The Accused is under no duty to present any evidence tending to prove innocence and is not required to take the stand and testify. If the Accused elects not to testify, no inference hurtful, harmful, or adverse to the Accused shall be drawn by the magistrate, nor shall such fact be held against the Accused in any way.