If you have been charged with a traffic or criminal offence, one of the first things you will need to decide is whether you should hire a lawyer to represent you or whether to take the risk and represent yourself in court.
This is an extremely important decision and one which could impact you for the rest of your life.
Here, we look at the advantages of hiring a lawyer and provide some useful advice if you decide to represent yourself.
Hiring A Lawyer
It is important that you seriously consider hiring a lawyer to represent you in court as the benefits far outweigh any potential disadvantages.
Some of these benefits are set out below:
We Know The Law
It is surprising how often we see people representing themselves in court and pleading guilty to offences without even fully understanding what they have actually been charged with. This leads them to accepting “guilt” for something that they might not have even done!
We also see people pleading guilty to charges without know what sort of punishments and penalties they might receive or what the consequences of the conviction might be. This can be devastating as it leaves people shocked, confused and worrying about their futures.
If you hire a lawyer who specialises in traffic and criminal law, you will be receiving the benefit of your lawyer’s many years of knowledge, expertise and experience both in and out of the courtroom.
You can therefore be assured that your case is being handled professionally from start to finish.
We Can Get You The Best Outcome
If you have to go to court, would you know what the likely outcome might be?
Would you know whether there are other sentencing options available that might be better than even the supposed “best case scenario”?
And would you know how to fight your charge in court to give you the best chance of winning?
We would know because it is our job to know.
As Queensland’s leading traffic and criminal lawyers, we are constantly on the lookout for ways to get better outcomes for our clients. This might be in the form of finding loopholes that can be used in court to get a more favourable result or it could be by negotiating charges with the prosecutors.
Over the years, we have helped countless people to get better outcomes by using techniques that most people would never know about. The magistrate wouldn’t mention them and the police certainly wouldn’t mention them. The only way to know about them is by hiring a lawyer who specialises in traffic and criminal law.
In the end, don’t you want the best result for yourself?
We Can Save You Time And Money
Most people don’t realise just how much time can be wasted when going to court.
You can be waiting for several hours for your case to be heard and then if you need to adjourn your case to another date, you will have to come back to court to go through the whole waiting process again.
For many people, this requires them to take time off work or arrange for family or friends to look after children.
Don’t have you something better to do with your time than sit in a courtroom twiddling your thumbs?
Due to our position as lawyers, we get priority over everyone else who represents themselves in court. It is therefore not uncommon for us to be finished in court within 15 or 20 minutes of it opening, even for guilty pleas.
If your case is more complex and it requires several court appearances, we can appear on your behalf at most of those appearances without you even needing to turn up.
Hiring a lawyer to represent you can therefore become an effective way to save time and, for those who need to work on their court dates, it can also save money.
If you decide to represent yourself, it is important that you don’t go to court unprepared. There are certain steps that you can take before your court date which will at least give you a better idea about what you will be facing in the courtroom.
Get Legal Advice
Even if you can’t afford hiring a lawyer, you should still seek legal advice. There are a number of community legal centres where you can obtain free legal advice. Please keep in mind however that these centres are usually very busy and will therefore only be able to give you limited advice.
Some community legal centres include:
- Caxton Legal Centre
- Gold Coast Community Legal Centre
- Moreton Bay Regional Community Legal Service
- Nundah Community Support Group
- Queensland Public Interest Law Clearing House
You can also contact Legal Aid Queensland who may be able to provide you with further information and advice.
Watch Court Proceedings
If you get the opportunity, we recommend that you go to court before your own court date and spend some time watching how the cases are run. This will give you a good understanding about the procedures involved, what you are meant to do when you get called to appear in court and what sort of penalty you might be facing (if you are fortunate enough to watch a case that is similar to yours).
Research Your Charge
It is risky going to court without at least having a basic understanding of the allegations that have been made against you and what sort of punishment you might receive.
The police often charge a person with the incorrect offence, whether by mistake or because they have their own view of the allegations that are not supported by the law.
We have also seen cases where Judges and Magistrates have imposed penalties that are inconsistent with what the law says.
Unless you have knowledge about the details of your case, there is no way that you would know that something has gone wrong in court.
Therefore at a minimum you should do the following:
- Get a copy of the police report and review it to make sure that you agree with the allegations being made against you;
- Read the legislation which sets out the charge that has been laid against you;
- Research what penalties you might be facing if you are convicted of the offence you have been charged with.