Do I Need a Solicitor?

Attending a magistrates’ court can be daunting, particularly if the case is a complicated one. It is wise to get a solicitor’s help as they can lessen the pressure of a trial and ensure that the defendant is doing the best they can to prepare for the case.

If the case is of a criminal nature, then the magistrates’ court is the first port of call. A criminal case can come about in two ways. Either a court summons is posted to the defendant or they are charged at a police station. If it is the latter, then the accused will either be detained in a police station until the trial, or let out on bail until they attend court at a later date.

When being charged at a police station, the accused has the right to free legal advice from a solicitor. Receiving advice from a solicitor at this time is absolutely vital and can help the accused in making the most rational decisions. The accused can ask for the police station’s duty solicitor, or a request can be sent to the Defence Solicitor Call Centre. The accused can use their own solicitor if they wish.

Once legal advice has been asked for, the police cannot question the accused until they have got it. In some serious cases the police can make the accused wait for legal advice in serious cases but not more than 36 hours after arriving at the police station (48 hours for suspected terrorism).

Paying for a Solicitor

Otherwise defendants will mostly likely have to pay for advice or representation from a solicitor before or during the trial. On the first meeting with the solicitor, he/she will give as much information as possible about how the charges for their service are calculated and what the expected cost will be. Different companies work in different ways; some solicitors may charge a fixed fee or a percentage fee, whereas some may charge an hourly rate. It is vital for defendants to find out whether they are eligible for legal aid as near to the beginning of the case as possible as not all solicitors work with legal aid.

When it comes to the trial at the magistrates’ court, the solicitor will talk the defendant through the process and make sure they are best prepared for the trial. This can really ease stress at such a difficult and worrying time. If the defendant is convicted or imprisoned and wishes to appeal, the solicitor can also help make this process easier and speed it up where possible.