Frequently Asked Questions About Criminal Law
I have been arrested what are my rights?
The Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1986 and the Codes of Practice contain the rules that the police must obey when someone is in custody. The two most important rights that you have whilst in custody are the right to speak to a solicitor free of charge in person and the right to have someone notified that you are in custody.
Why do I need the assistance of a Solicitor whilst at the Police Station ?
It is vital to have a solicitor at the police station as the outcome of most cases can depend on what happens at the police station. A solicitor will protect your rights and ensure that you are properly treated. He will secure disclosure from the police and discuss the disclosure with you and the strength of the evidence in private with you prior to interview. He will take your account and advise you whether to answer questions or not.
I have been previously arrested and the police have told me not to bother getting a Solicitor as it takes too long. Why would I wait for you to come out ?
We have an obligation to attend the Police Station within 45 minutes of being notified that the police are ready to interview. We are on call 24 hours a day, 7 days per week, 365 days per year. We are experts in our field and are available to help you. If you go into interview without a Solicitor you will not have the benefit of any legal advice and your actions could well lead to your case being jeopardised at Court.
How much will it cost to have the benefit of a Solicitor at the Police Station?
Everyone is currently legally entitled to free advice at the police station.
What happens once I have been interviewed by the Police ?
After interview the police will make a decision as to how to deal with you. They usually seek advice from the Crown Prosecution Service. You will be dealt with in one of the following ways:-
- Released on police bail and asked to return to the police station at a later date
- No further action will be taken against you
- Issued with a fixed penalty, or a caution or conditional caution
- Charged with a criminal offence(s).
Will I get bail?
You are entitled to bail unless the police or courts have substantial grounds for believing that you will fail to come to court, commit offences on bail or interfere with prosecution witnesses. At the Police Station we can make representations on your behalf that you should be granted bail. If you are kept in custody by the police you are entitled to an application for bail at the Magistrates Court (except for cases of murder where different rules apply) This will usually take place the following day unless it is a weekend or bank holiday.
If I am charged with a Criminal Offence, what happens at court?
Your first hearing will be at the Magistrates court. If you plead not guilty then the case will be adjourned to a hearing a trial date. Depending on the case the matter can be dealt with in the Magistrates Court or Crown Court. You will be given further advice as regards this depending on the nature of the charges. At the trial all witnesses will attend and give evidence. If you plead guilty your case could be finalised at the first hearing or the court could adjourn reports. Certain offences are “indictable only offences” and can only be dealt with by the Crown Court. If your case fits into this category your case will be transferred to the Crown Court.
Why do I need a Solicitor at Court ?
We will be able to assess your case and advise you about the law and how strong the evidence against you is. We will be able to provide advice as to whether or not you should plead guilty. If you plead not guilty we will be able to represent you at a trial where witnesses will be called to give evidence. If you plead guilty we can assist you by putting forward mitigating factors to the Court.
Will I get Legal Aid at Court ?
The test for Legal Aid is in two stages. Does the case meet the “Interests of Justice” Test. This means whether the case is serious enough for a Solicitor to be involved. For example, it is extremely rare for the Court to grant Legal Aid to someone charged with non imprisonable road traffic offences. The second stage of the test is whether you are financially eligible. Most people who receive benefits will be entitled to Legal Aid. If you are not eligible we would need to assess the cost of representation. This will depend upon the nature of your case and length of time it is expected to last. We would provide you with information about costs at your request.
Areas we cover include Huyton, Liverpool, Merseyside, North West, North Wales, Cheshire, Lancashire