Legal Information Centre

22 May 2009 by Mary Heaney

Criminal lawyer

If you are charged with a criminal offence it is vital that you consult a criminal lawyer to ensure that receive the justice entitled to you under the law.

If you are charged with a criminal offence it is vital that you consult a criminal lawyer to ensure that recieve the justice entitled to you under the law.

If you are arrested and held in custody or due to appear in court you are entitled to first consult with a criminal lawyer. Whether you have been accused of an offence such as theft, burgulary or assault or a white-collar crime such as fraud, it is important that you contact a criminal lawyer at the earliest possible opportunity so that preparations can be made.

Using a criminal lawyer upon arrest

If you have been arrested, the advice and representation of a criminal lawyer is necessary in a range of situations including interviews, court hearings and confiscation proceedings.

Before you are even interviewed you have the right to consult a criminal lawyer and it is vital that you take advantage of this. Many criminal lawyer firms are contactable 24 hours a day and will be able to send a criminal lawyer to visit you promptly at the police station.

People arrested under a criminal charge often assume that either they don't need a criminal lawyer, because they haven't done anything wrong, or that consulting a criminal lawyer will make them appear guilty. However, a criminal lawyer's ability to provide you with details of evidence the police possess and with advice on the procedures and law relating to your particular case, are key to ensuring you understand your position.

In the interview itself, whether it is conducted by the police or another investigatory agency, such as the Serious Fraud Office, a criminal lawyer is also entitled to be present and their advice in this situation can be helpful.

A criminal lawyer can also advise on any investigations that could serve in your defense whether it be acquiring video evidence, tracing witnesses or consulting defence specialists.

Using a criminal lawyer for a hearing

If you should recieve a charge sheet you should also speak to a criminal lawyer; the expertise and experience of a good criminal lawyer will mean they can provide clarity on the nature of your case. A criminal lawyer will be able to advise on whether to plead guilty or not guilty and predict a likely outcome including the possible penalties to be imposed. Before replying to a charge sheet delivered by the police, prosecutor or court it is therefore wise to contact a criminal lawyer.

It is possible to represent yourself in court but it is highly recommended that you use the services of a criminal lawyer. A criminal lawyer can represent you at your first appearance at the Magistrates Court and if your case is more serious and you end up attending a Crown Court, Court of Appeal or European Court hearing, a criminal lawyer will again be required. A criminal lawyer will ensure that you get the best possible defence and commonly serves as a source of reassurance in what can be a daunting situation.

The services of a criminal lawyer come for free if you pass the Interests of Justice test and a means test.

NB: None of this information should be construed as legal advice.

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