Every criminal case involving an adult defendant will commence in the Magistrates Court. An individual would have to attend the Magistrates Court if they are charged by the police, or if they receive a summons telling them to attend court.
A failure to attend court when summoned may constitute to a criminal offence, and could lead to you being arrested and kept in police custody.
There are 3 types of criminal offences, depending on the seriousness of the crime and which Court can deal with the case:
- Summary Only Offences– These are the lower level offences, and can only be heard at a Magistrates Court. The most common summary only offences are Common Assault, Theft Of A Motor Vehicle, S4 Public Order, 4A Public Order, Criminal Damage, Harassment, and most Driving Offences. The maximum sentence for most of these offences is 6 months imprisonment.
- Either way offences– These offences can be heard in either the Magistrates Court or the Crown Court. When a case emerges in the Magistrates Court, the Magistrates will decide if they have sufficient sentencing powers to deal with the case. The maximum the Magistrates could impose for a single offence is 6 months imprisonment, so if a case is too serious for them to deal with they will decide the case should be sent to the Crown Court. However, even if the Magistrates agree that they can deal with a case, you have a right to elect for your case to be heard by a Crown Court. There are many reasons why you may prefer for a Crown Court to hear your case, but we would recommend you contact us for detailed advice if this is something you are considering .Examples of either way offences include: Theft, Burglary, Fraud, ABH, 20 Wounding, Possession Of Drugs, Supply Of Drugs, Affray, Possession Of A Bladed Article, Possession Of An Offensive Weapon, and many Sexual Offences.
- Indictable Only Offences– These are the most serious offences, and can only be heard in the Crown Court. When the case appears in the Magistrates Court, you will not be asked to enter a plea. All that will happen is the Court will send your case to the Crown Court and give you a date to appear before a Judge to enter your plea.
I have received a summons to go to court. What should I do?
Call Us and we can discuss your case with you. You will need to attend the court at the time written on the summons. We can attend the Court with you, and after discussing the evidence with you we can speak to the court on your behalf to represent you.
Do I need a solicitor?
It is always advisable to have a solicitor. Whether you decide to admit or deny the offence, a solicitor can always put mitigation on your behalf, when possible. This would have an influence on the outcome of your case.
A solicitor could also help you prepare your case and cross-examine any prosecution witness if there is a need. A solicitor could also identify any potential breaches which can undermine the case: eg: confessions, breaches of any legislation, false identification.
How will I pay for a solicitor?
Many people think that instructing a solicitor is an expensive luxury, but this simply is not the case. Most of the clients we represent are able to get Legal Aid, which means they won’t have to pay toward the cost of their case. For a full explanation of how Legal Aid works, and whether you are eligible, please follow the link on this page.
If you are not eligible for Legal Aid, either because you earn above the limits or because the Court decides the case does not pass the interests of justice test, we can offer competitive fees for an outstanding service. If you pay private fees, and you are found not guilty, you will be able to apply for your full costs to be recovered. This means we can claim the money back, and will account to you for the money we have recovered for you.
Our private fees are based on the following:
The amount of work we anticipate will be required to complete the case and instructing the relevant council.
We do not base any fees on any other factors, such as what you do for a living or the type of car you drive. This transparency reflects our integrity, and commitment to providing excellent service.
If you have been quoted private fees for a case, Contact Us to see if we can offer better value.
I missed a court date, what should I do?
Call Us and let us try to help. There is a danger that the court will have issued a warrant for your arrest. If this has happened, you will need to surrender to the police as soon as you are able to, so you can be produced at the next available court session.
We can speak to the court or the police on your behalf or arrange to represent you when you next appear in court.
The worst thing you can do is ignore the situation, as failing to answer your bail is a serious offence and can lead to a prison sentence.