Do you Know Your Rights?
It is useful to know your basic legal rights if the police want to ask you questions or charge you with an offence. However, it is best to get legal advice from a lawyer as soon as possible after you are approached by the police. This is so even if the police try to persuade you not to speak to a lawyer.
Right to Silence
The police can require you to tell them your name, date of birth and address in some situations. However, you are generally not obliged to tell them anything more, even if you have been arrested or are asked questions while being recorded on video.
It is very important to speak to a lawyer before answering any questions, particularly if the police have said that you are not obliged to say anything but, whatever you do say, will be recorded and may be used in evidence against you.
Accepting a Charge
You can plead “guilty” to a charge and be sentenced. There are several sentencing options and a lawyer can speak on your behalf to try to reduce your punishment.
It is often a good idea to show the court written character references and/or other documents about you. It may also be appropriate to apply for the charge to be spent immediately rather than showing up on your police clearances.
See the Fixed Fee Guilty Pleas website for more information.
Defending a Charge
You can plead “not guilty” to a charge and have a trial before a Magistrate or a Judge and Jury, depending on the type of offence. There are many legal defences, some you may not know about and may apply to your case.
Trials can be complicated, involving things like objections, cross-examination, legal submissions and closing addresses. You should always speak to a lawyer before deciding to represent yourself at a trial.