Emmersons Solicitors have represented thousands of clients in the Crown Court. We will hand pick a Barrister who has the relevant skills for your case. You will find that we will prepare your case thoroughly in advance of your hearing and we will obtain all necessary experts reports in order to help you. Because we have one of the largest Prison Law Departments in the North we are well aware of the work that is needed in order to get it right the first time in order to help you avoid jail. You will not be treated as just another client at Emmersons. You will find that we will work extremely hard on your behalf to obtain the best outcome for you.
Representation in the Courts
If you do not qualify for Legal Aid on the ground of Means then you will have to pay us as a Private Client. In relation to Legal Aid always ask for us - Emmersons Solicitors.
We can apply for Legal Aid on your behalf. If required to do so, you will have to supply your last wage slip and other documentary evidence for yourself and of a spouse/ co-habitee. Means Testing will affect the availability of Legal Aid for those who do not receive a “passport benefit”, are waged or with savings.
If your case is sent to the Crown Court or you decide that you would wish to have a Crown Court trial then your income and capital will be asses to establish if you should make a payment out of in-come towards your legal aid (paid over 6 months) or out of capital upon conviction. If you are acquitted income contributions are repaid to you. Why it is that people who pay tax should also have to pay towards their legal representation before they are convicted is a question you may wish to ask the Government or your MP.
If you are granted Legal Aid then you must inform the Court and us of any change in the
following:- change of address, change in marital status or if you begin to live with someone or a change in your plea. You must, during the term of any Legal Aid Order, give us clear and precise instructions when asked to do so. It is a very serious offence to obtain Legal Aid fraudulently.
Failure to advise the Court of a change in circumstances or to comply with a request for information from the Court may mean that your Legal Aid Order is discharged i.e. cancelled or revoked i.e. with-drawn by the Magistrates’ Court. If it is discharged you will be considered to be a private client from the point of discharge and the Legal Services Commission will pay my costs up to that date. If your Legal Aid is revoked it will be as if you never had the benefit of it and you will be responsible for my costs from the start of the case. In either case you will have to pay privately if you wish us to continue to represent you.
A Legal Aid Order will cover the costs of preparing a Magistrates’ Court case and representation at Court. If the case is transferred to the Crown Court then your Legal Aid should also be extended to cover representation at that Court.
Please note that even if you have Legal Aid and you are convicted of an offence then the Court might order you to pay a contribution towards the Prosecution costs. Such costs will be payable in addition to any fines or compensation which may be imposed by the Court. If the prosecuting authority is the Council or another organisation such as the PTE the costs sought will be between £150-500.
If you are refused Legal Aid and you wish to be represented by this firm you will be considered to be a private client. We will agree the fee and you will be given an up to date costs review at least every six months.
Early Guilty Plea
The earlier you plead guilty the more discount off a sentence you can get. The maximum is 1/3. This applies in Magistrates and Crown Court cases.
What if I don’t attend my Trial.
If you don’t attend your trial it may proceed in your absence. Thereafter you may be arrested and sentenced at a later date. If your witnesses don’t attend at Trial, the trial may proceed without them.
Length of case
It is always difficult to advise on how long the case will take. A summary-only matter that is minor, such as drunk and disorderly or some road traffic (motoring) cases may be disposed of at the first hearing or the second hearing if you plead guilty. If your case is a road traffic case then bring your license and other driving documents to Court. If you contest the case then your matter will be finalised after trial, which can only take place when all witnesses that you and the Prosecution require can attend. It usually takes 6 to 12 weeks to have a trial heard.
This is the first hearing at Court of a case to which a guilty plea is likely to be entered and the Magistrates are likely to deal with the case at the first hearing without adjourning for Pre-Sentence Reports.
Summary and Either - Way cases
Summary Offences can only be dealt with in the Magistrates’ Court. They are the more minor offences
There are certain cases that may be heard at the Magistrates Court, if the Magistrates and you so wish or at the Crown Court if you wish. These are called “either way” offences. Examples are theft, dangerous driving, section 47 and section 20 assaults. At the first hearing or at the first hearing after Legal Aid is granted or refused you will be asked to indicate a plea. If you plead guilty the Magistrates decide if they wish to sentence you or if the circumstances of the case and your previous convictions (if any) mean that the Crown Court should sentence you. You receive credit in your sentence for an early guilty plea.
You may withhold plea if, after being advised, you feel that there are sound legal reasons why you should do so. The Magistrates will treat this indication as if you had pleaded not guilty.
If you contest the case you plead “not guilty” when asked and the Court considers if the Magistrates should agree to hear a trial at a later date or if the Crown Court should be asked to hear a trial (this is when the Magistrates determine how the case is Allocated i.e. to which level of Court-Magistrates or Crown). If the Magistrates decide that the Crown Court will hear the case the matter will be allocated to the Crown Court. You are not asked to select the venue. If the Magistrates decide to hear the trial you will be asked where you wish the trial to be heard. If you elect a Crown Court trial then the case will be allocated to the Crown Court. If you agree to a Magistrates trial the case will be listed for a trial.
The Magistrates have limited powers of sentence unlike the Crown Court which has greater powers. For example the maximum custodial sentence for an adult convicted of theft in the Magistrates Court is 6 months. In the Crown Court the maximum sentence is 7 years. A Magistrates Court may sentence to a maximum of 12 months where 2 either way offences are being dealt with.
An Indictable offence such as murder rape or conspiracy of any type can only be heard at the Crown Court. At the first hearing at the Magistrates’ Court the case should be Sent to the Crown Court.
Allocated and Sent Cases
The first hearing at the Crown Court will be about 8 days after the Magistrates’ hearing, if you are remanded into Custody. If you are remanded on bail the hearing will be within about 23 days. It is called a Preliminary Hearing. If you are in custody you may apply for bail at the Judge’s discretion, otherwise a bail application will have to be made to a Judge in chambers.
The Crown Court Judge will give directions for the conduct of the case. In the Crown Court you may be represented by a Barrister or a Solicitor-Advocate. You may instruct us as to the Barrister you would like or leave it to us to choose following discussions with you. You may be asked to enter a plea at the Preliminary Hearing but usually this will take place later at the Plea and Case
Management Hearing (PCMH). If you plead guilty the case may be disposed of immediately but usually Pre-Sentence Reports are requested from the Probation Service (see below). If you plead not guilty then directions will be given for the Trial. It is likely therefore that the first hearing at the Crown Court will be purely administrative in nature.
Conviction and Sentence
As soon as you plead guilty or if you are found guilty after trial you are convicted. If you do not receive a fine or discharge or immediate custodial sentence your case may be adjourned for a Pre-Sentence Report or may be stood down for a Fast Delivery Report or oral Report from the Probation Service. Adjournments for a PSR are more likely in the Crown Court. You must co-operate with them. If you do not you may be remanded into custody. If you are fined or ordered to pay compensation and you do not you may receive a custodial sentence. If you receive a community sentence and you fail to comply the order may be revoked and you will be re-sentenced. If you co-operate fully the order may be brought to an end early. A conviction for a recordable criminal offence remains as part of your record for a statutory period depending upon the offence. If you require advice in this regard please ask us.
If you are acquitted or the case is withdrawn then your costs may be paid out of Central Funds (effectively by the State) if you are not legally-aided AND the case was concluded in the Magistrates’ Court. If you are legally-aided the Legal Services Commission pays your costs.
Bail and Custody
In relation to all cases if you are on bail you must comply with any conditions and you must attend Court unless your attendance is excused. If you are on remand any custodial sentence you receive is reduced by your time on remand unless you are a serving prisoner whilst on remand, in which case remand time is not discounted. You do not receive any credit for time spent in Police stations before sentence whilst your case was being investigated. On the other hand early release whilst subject to electronic monitoring is prevalent so some prisoners only serve ¼ of any prison sentence in custody.
For more information ask to speak to Michael Robinson on:
Criminal Law Solicitors - Newcastle: 0191 284 6989
Criminal Law Solicitors - Sunderland: 0191 567 6667
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For initial discussions or to obtain costs information, contact either our Newcastle or Sunderland offices:
0191 567 6667 Sunderland Office
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