Frequently Asked Questions
What is the difference between a solicitor and a barrister?
Solicitors generally prepare a case and a barrister usually argues the case in court. However, there are solicitors who do both, particularly in straightforward matters.
How do I know how much my case will cost?
We will tell you in writing after discussing your options with you in detail. There won’t be any surprises or hidden fees.
If I am arrested what should I do?
Contact a lawyer immediately. The police must advise you that you have the right to contact a lawyer.
Do not answer any questions apart from your name and address until you have spoken to a lawyer.
Should I talk to the police?
No, not until you have received expert advice from a criminal lawyer.
If I’ve done nothing wrong why shouldn’t I talk to the police?
It may be advisable that you do – but only after receiving expert advice from a lawyer. Remember, the police have to prove the case against you; you do not have to disprove the case. A police interview can be frightening and overwhelming and can be difficult to clearly state your side of events when you are nervous, stressed and isolated. Generally speaking, answering police questions only provides them with more material to use against you.
Does making a No Comment record of interview imply that you are guilty and have something to hide?
No. No adverse inference can be drawn from silence. You have a right not to answer questions. The police will tell you that you are not obliged to answer their questions.
The police want to come on to my property and search – should I let them?
Only if they have a warrant. Without a warrant the police have no more right to enter your property than any other person. Ask yourself whether you would let any one else search your house if they asked.
Is it up to the police whether I am released from custody?
Only in the short term. Any person arrested must be released or brought before a court to determine whether they should be released on bail. While the police can oppose bail, it is ultimately a decision for a court to make after hearing the whole application.
Is it true that you can only apply for bail once?
Yes. If you are refused bail in the Magistrates’ Court, a further application for bail in the Magistrates’ Court can only be made if you can show there are new facts and circumstances that have arisen since the first bail application. However, there is provision to appeal against the refusal of bail by the Magistrates’ Court to the Supreme Court.
Can someone be arrested to assist police with their enquiries?
No. The police can only arrest somebody for a criminal offence. An arrested person has the right to know what they are being arrested for and must be cautioned that they do not have to say or do anything and that they may communicate with a lawyer.
Will my case be heard in the Magistrates’ Court or County Court?
That depends on whether you are charged with a summary offence, an indictable offence or an indictable offence triable summarily. Summary offences can only be heard in the Magistrates’ Court and can be heard in your absence. Indictable offences can only be heard in the County or Supreme Courts before a jury. Indictable offences triable summarily can be heard in the Magistrates’ Court but only if you consent to them being heard.
If I am charged with an indictable offence that can be heard in either the Magistrates’ Court or the County Court, where should I have it heard?
This is a complex question. Having a matter heard in the Magistrates’ Court has the advantage of efficiency, less cost, generally lesser penalties, the right to apply for costs if successful and an automatic right of appeal to the County Court. However, statistically speaking, a person has more chance of being found not guilty by a jury than by a magistrate. In certain cases it may be advantageous to have the matter heard before a jury rather than a magistrate. You should discuss this with your lawyer.
If I win my case can I claim my legal costs?
Yes, you can in the Magistrates’ Court but this is at the discretion of the magistrate. Costs cannot be recovered in the County Court or the Supreme Court.