Comparing Private, Public, & Self-Representation In Defence

Lawyer and client listening to judge

If you’ve recently been arrested and your court date is approaching, you have three choices: You are allowed to hire your own private criminal defence lawyer, you may have a defence lawyer assigned to you if you’re unable to afford to hire one, or you have the option of representing yourself in a court of law. 

But how will you know what option is right for you? 

Maybe you’re thinking about your three options and wondering what the best choice for your situation would be. While this can be a difficult decision, it’s better to understand what private, public, and self-representation entail. This way, you’ll have the correct information to make your decision. 

Private Defence Attorney

A private attorney is essentially a lawyer that you’ve hired yourself. This is one of the most common ways to obtain a criminal defence lawyer. However, when selecting a defence attorney, you’ll want to pick someone who is experienced and specializes in criminal law. You’ll want to look at someone familiar with the law pertaining to the specific crime you’ve been charged with. 

What if I Can’t Afford a Private Attorney?

There are other alternatives to getting a lawyer if you can’t afford one. Many people consider legal aid to get the right lawyer for their case. Legal aid is a government program that helps low-income individuals receive proper legal representation or advice. 

In some cases, you may be able to find an attorney that will work pro bono. Pro bono is a program that delivers free legal services to low-income Canadians that don’t have any other options. 

Public Defence Attorney

If you aren’t able to find or afford a lawyer, Canadian law states that one must be appointed to you. The costs will be the responsibility of the government, as everyone is entitled to a defence attorney. 

However, to receive a public attorney, your income and assets must be below a specific amount. If you would like an attorney appointed to you, you must tell the police and judge that you want one. While this can be a benefit for those who don’t know if they can afford proper representation, hiring your own attorney will ensure that you develop a strong strategy and plan with them.


While there are guides you can find for representing yourself in court, and this alternative is certainly available, we don’t recommend choosing it. Criminal law is a complicated subject and learning how to properly represent yourself in a court of law and develop a legal strategy is no easy feat. Considering this is your criminal court case that we are discussing, the stakes will be very high. You’ll need the knowledge and experience of an attorney that understands the court system and law. 

If you’re sure that you want to self-represent in court, you must tell the judge that you wish to do so. Are you looking for the best criminal lawyers in Winnipeg? Our attorneys have the knowledge and experience necessary to handle your specific criminal charge. Call or text Matt Gould today to receive a free consultation and receive a quality criminal defence.