Can friend or family represent someone in court if that someone refused his Public Defender?

Q: Am I allowed to represent someone who is family or friend in court, if they agree that I do so? My nephew was charged with a crime and he requested I help him, as I have experience in the legal system. He refused a public defender and could not afford an attorney. I was then arrested and charged with tampering with evidence to trying to help him.

A: You must be a licensed attorney to represent someone in court. It is commendable that you will help him. You may be better served in helping his attorney as far as gathering information or tracking down witnesses. I suggest you let a lawyer make the legal decisions. If your friend cannot afford a private lawyer, contact the Public Defender. If you treat the PD with the respect, they will treat you likewise. Having a lay person represent me in court who has “…experience in the legal system” to me, would be like letting the receptionist at my doctor’s office perform surgery on me.

If you feel like this issue relates to you, or a problem that you are experiencing, please contact me so that we can discuss your situation.