Attending a case at the Magistrates’ court can be a daunting time, particularly if the case is complex and confusing. It is wise to get a solicitor to help with the court case as they can lessen some of the pressure carried during a trial and ensure the defendant that they are doing the best they can to prepare for the case at hand.
If the case involved 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 someone could be 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 and they will have to 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. This is done through the duty solicitors’ scheme. Receiving advice from a solicitor at this time is absolutely vital and can aid the accused in making the most rational decisions. Either, a request will be sent to the Defence Solicitor Call centre, or the accused can use their own solicitor if they wish.
If the solicitor is appointed under the duty solicitors’ scheme, an appointment will need to be made. This could take up to 5 working days, although if the accused is being retained, the system is usually sped up. The solicitor will arrange a meeting and under the Solicitors Regulation Authority he/she should provide the accused with certain information regarding the case. This is most likely to include:
- What the solicitor intends to do in regards to the case
- Information on any costs involved (should also be provided in writing in the near future)
- Whether the accused is eligible for legal aid
- An estimation on the length of the case
The solicitor appointed to the accused should be kept up to date as often as possible
As with most things in life, there will be some costs involved when using a solicitor. 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 that the defendant discovers 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 gets convicted or imprisoned and wishes to appeal, the solicitor can also help make this process easier and speed it up where possible.
If you are facing a trial in magistrates’ court and you are finding it hard, or if you have any unanswered questions, then please fill in the box to the right of this form and tell us a little bit about your situation. A member of our team will get back to you as soon as possible.