Do not have a bench trial, ask for a jury trial. If you cannot afford an attorney, ask for a public Defender. Based on your facts, there are defenses available to you and you need an attorney to skillfully present your case.
The advice provided does not in anyway create a lawyer-client relationship and is for general information purposes only.
It is worth the investment to hire an attorney, particularly in a case like yours with possible defenses and possibly eligibility for a pre-trial diversion program.
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You seem to be aware of your situation correctly that you need a qualified legal advice before you do anything.
Definitely you are correct that you must have counsel for the present charges. Appear in court for the status as ordered and request the court to assign a Public Defender for your case citing your present indigent status.
From that point on, discuss your present concerns with that assigned attorney to address each issue in detail.
It appears that you have good logic and realize that you have to rely on counsel to complete this matter correctly.
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I'm not sure where you got the idea to have a bench trial. I'm not saying it's wrong, but I am saying that making the decision to forego a jury trial and have a bench trial hinges upon a multifaceted analysis of your case that only a seasoned criminal defense attorney can make. Erring on the side of exercising your right to a jury trial, as suggested by Ms. Veal above, is the better strategy.
One way or another, you need to get yourself a lawyer immediately. If you can't afford a private lawyer, apply for a public defender. It sounds like you have a number of positive legal and factual points that can be made to the solicitor.