1. Do you understand that you have the right to a lawyer? If you can’t afford to hire your own lawyer, and if you qualify for a court appointed lawyer, one can be appointed for you.

2. The State of Florida will pay for a lawyer to advise you in these Court proceedings.

3. Shall I appoint a lawyer to represent you in this case?



4. I would like to begin by explaining to you some of the ways that having a lawyer represent you can be to your advantage:

-The lawyer has the experience and knowledge of the entire trial process.

-The lawyer can call witnesses for you, question witnesses against you, and present evidence on your behalf.

-The lawyer will question potential jurors. The lawyer also has the experience to know which jurors will be in your best interests.

-A lawyer can advise you of the harm and consequences of what you say in Court and what you have a right not to say.

-Do you understand that a lawyer will object to those questions that are improper?

-Do you understand that a lawyer has studied the rules of evidence and knows what evidence can or can not come into your trial?

-And finally, do you understand that a lawyer will argue for your side during the whole trial and present the best legal argument for your defense?



5. As it is almost always unwise to represent yourself in Court, let me tell you a few of the disadvantages of representing yourself in Court:

-Do you understand that you will not get any special treatment from the Court because you are representing yourself?

-You also must follow all the procedural and substantive rules of criminal law, the same laws, which took lawyers years to learn and abide by.

-(If defendant is in custody) You will also be limited to the resources that are available to you while in custody. A lawyer has less restriction in researching your defense.

-Do you understand that your access to the State Attorney will be severely reduced as compared to a lawyer who could easily contact the State Attorney?

-As well, the State will not go easier on you or give you any special treatment because you are representing yourself.

-The State will present its case against you using an experienced lawyer.

-Do you understand that if you are disruptive in the courtroom that the Court can terminate your self-representation and remove you from the courtroom? In that situation the trial will continue on without your presence.

-If a "stay away order" is in effect you will be prohibited from contacting the victim and any other witnesses who are a part of the "stay away order." On the other hand, a lawyer is allowed to speak to these people and question them regarding their testimony.

-Finally, if you do get convicted, you can not claim your own incompetence as a basis for appeal.



6. Have you received and read a copy of the charges against you?

7. Do you understand all the charges against you?

8. Do you understand all the possible penalties if you are found guilty of all of the charges?

9. If the jury finds you guilty the maximum jail sentence is ______; the minimum is _________.

10. You may be forced to report to a probation officer for _______.

11. You may have a permanent criminal record.

12. Do you understand that if you are not a citizen of the United States, and if you are found guilty you could be deported from the country, excluded from entering this country, and denied the opportunity to become a naturalized citizen?



13. I need to ask you a few questions about your background:

-Can you read? Can you write? Do you have difficulty understanding English?

-How many years of school have you completed?

-Are you under the influence of drugs or alcohol?

-Have you ever been diagnosed and treated for a mental illness?

-Has anyone told you not to use a lawyer?

-Has anyone threatened you if you use a lawyer?

-Do you understand that a lawyer will represent you for free?

-Have you ever represented yourself in a trial? What was the outcome of the case?

-Do you have any questions about having a lawyer appointed to defend you?

-Do you understand the danger and disadvantages of representing yourself in court?

14. Are you certain that you do not want me to appoint a lawyer to defend you?

15. As an alternative to self-representation, if you would like, I could ask the Public Defender to act as standby counsel if you have any questions in the course of these proceedings. Would you like standby counsel?

[Renew, in abbreviated form, the offer of counsel at each stage of the proceedings].

Submitted by Mark King Leban, Dade County Court Judge, with assistance from Mary Paloger, Legal Intern (Summer, 1997).

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