What is the test for a criminal defendant to represent himself in court?

California, United States of America

The following excerpt is from People v. Torres, B264337 (Cal. App. 2016):

In addition, "[a] knowing and intelligent waiver of the right to counsel is required before a criminal defendant is allowed to represent himself. [Citation.] The defendant should be made aware of the dangers and disadvantages of self-representation so the record shows he is making an informed choice with his eyes wide open. [Citation.] The purpose of this requirement is to determine whether the defendant in fact understands the significance and consequences of his decision and whether that decision is voluntary. [Citation.] On appeal the test is not whether specific warnings or advisements were given. Instead, we examine the record as a whole to determine whether the defendant understood the disadvantages of self-representation, including the risks and complexities of his case." (People v. Miranda (2015) 236 Cal.App.4th 978, 984.)

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