All criminal cases begin in the magistrates’ court and the majority of them also conclude there.
You may have been charged by the police and bailed to attend court or you may have received a summons or postal requisition requiring you to attend court. At the first hearing the court will decide whether or not your case is one that is suitable to remain in the magistrates’ court
or whether it should be sent to the crown court. In certain circumstances you may get to choose whether your case stays in the magistrates’ court or goes to the crown court. There are advantages and disadvantages to each venue and you should seek legal advice before making a decision.
Before the first hearing we will obtain a copy of the prosecution case papers and go through them with you, taking your instructions. We will then advise you on the strength of the evidence against you, any possible defences available to you and the likely sentence you would receive in the event that you pleaded, or were found, guilty.
If you plead not guilty to the offence then your case will be adjourned to a later date for trial. Various directions will be made about the disclosure of evidence and other case management issues. It may be that the court imposes bail conditions on you until the next hearing. The most common of these conditions are not to contact prosecution witnesses or to live at a specified address.
If you enter a guilty plea in court you may be sentenced immediately. The magistrates have a range of sentencing powers available to them from an absolute discharge or a fine up to 6 months imprisonment (or 12 months in certain circumstances). If the court are considering sentencing you to a prison sentence or a community order, they will ask the National Probation Service to interview you and prepare a pre-sentence report. Often this is done there and then at court but sometimes it is necessary to adjourn the case for 3 weeks for this to be done.
Before you are sentenced your solicitor will speak on your behalf to explain the reasons behind your actions and any relevant personal circumstances in order to try to persuade the court to impose the most lenient sentence.
We are based in Hertfordshire but we represent clients all over England and Wales on a regular basis. All of our advocates are experienced in all aspects of criminal law and most of them have individual areas of interest and areas of expertise built up over many years of practice. We also have the advantage of being a relatively small firm which means that we are able to offer a more personal service to our clients. One person will always have responsibility for your case and they will always be your first point of contact. We will also always try to ensure that you have the same solicitor each time you attend court.
If you have been charged with an offence or have received a summons or postal requisition, then please contact us for free initial advice about your case.
If you are eligible for legal aid then we can complete the application form with you and submit it on your behalf. If you wish to pay privately for your representation then we can offer you a competitive fixed fee.
Call us on 01442 242999 or email us at email@example.com