Evidence: What you Need to Know as a Self-litigant
Choosing to represent yourself in court without engaging the services of a lawyer can leave you frustrated if you do not know how to go about it. Usually, with a lawyer, you would almost not have to do anything but appear in court when needed, ratify some decisions of the lawyer, and sign some documents. The reverse is the case when you decide to represent yourself in court. You become your lawyer and take up the responsibilities and duties of a lawyer. All that a lawyer would have ordinarily done, becomes your duty to carry out.
Taking up such responsibility can be challenging. However, it can also be easy and smooth for you if you understand what needs to be done. Most times, persons who want to self-litigate become deterred by the legal formalities involved and the 'complicated sounding legal terminologies' they come across. That should not be the case. The truth is that you can successfully represent yourself in court without any error or misstep. To do this, you must first make sure to be equipped with the requisite knowledge of what you are about to get into.
One important aspect you should carefully look into in your quest to represent yourself is the matter of 'Evidence'. The evidence you present is one of the determinants of the success of your case. This four-minute read will give you an insight into the necessary things about ought to know about evidence in trial matters.
What is Evidence?
The evidence here simply means facts that prove the validity of a proposition or an assertion. Whether you are the one suing or you are being sued, you must present evidence before the court to support your claims. When you assert anything in court, the court does not accept it immediately. The burden lies on you to prove that what you are saying took place did happen. The evidence you present is basically what proves whatever case you are bringing before the court or defending.
You must be very critical about it and ensure that your evidence is not just accurate but also what is needed to prove your case. Several things can seem like evidence good enough to present to the court, but you must understand that not every fact related to your case can suffice as good evidence to help you win. Understanding the types of evidence and what they entail will go a long way to helping you in proving your case before the court.
Types of Evidence
Generally, there are two types of evidence that you can use in court. They are; Oral evidence and Documentary evidence.
Oral evidence is evidence that is passed orally while under oath before the court. Here, the witness appears in court, swears, and speaks of what he/she knows about the matter or the fact in contention. Anyone who gives oral evidence must have personal knowledge of the case in question. Where a witness testifies outside his knowledge, such testimony is referred to as 'hearsay'. Also, a witness commits the crime of 'perjury' if he makes a statement that is not true while under oath. A typical example of this type of evidence is an eyewitness to a hit and run accident stating that he witnessed the driver hitting the victim with the car and driving off immediately without checking the condition of the victim.
Note that this type of evidence must not always be in spoken form. It can be via symbols also. Before you embark on this journey to represent yourself, you must carefully select witnesses(if any) that will give oral testimony to help prove your case. Get persons who are not just related to the case but also have personal knowledge of the matter and who can state their side of the story accurately. You also may need to give oral evidence at some point during the trial. You must prepare yourself and other witnesses that will take up the stand and ensure that your testimonies are not contradictory. You will need to go over their testimonies over and over again with them. If possible, rehearse them and act as though you are in a court setting to prepare them.
Documentary evidence simply refers to evidence that is given through documents. Examples of these are certificates, registration papers, identification cards, images, books, passports, tax bills, witness statements, etc. While preparing for your matter, you must have documents to present to the court backing up your claims. If, for example, you claim that the other party breached a contract between both of you, you must first show the court that there was a contract from the very beginning. To prove that there was an existing contract, you will have to provide the written contract. With that, you can show the terms of the contract that the other party breached. If you can prove all of that, you stand a high chance of winning the matter. That is how important it is to make documentary evidence available.
Just like in oral evidence, not all documents related to the case are necessary for the case. You must carefully sort for and select documents that will directly prove your claims. If you can, present the original documents as evidence to the court and not the copies. Presenting original documents gives your evidence more validity and saves you the stress of having to prove the validity of the copies.
The evidence you present in court can either cause you to win or lose your case. You must begin on time to prepare your evidence if you want to win. If you have decided to represent yourself, you do not need to get scared or nervous about all of these. You just need proper guidance to help you in this journey. Valiant Virtual Paralegals, LLC(VVP) is a company you can trust to help with whatever legal situation you find yourself in. Its goal is to provide the services you need anytime you need them. VVP can help you ascertain and gather the requisite oral and documentary evidence you need to represent yourself. Feel free to contact us anytime, and get yourself ready to kill it in court!.