Appearing in the Magistrates Court (Adults) – 10 things you should know.
If you need help advice at Magistrates Court from our specialist Criminal Solicitor in Middlesbrough, call us for free advice on 01642 293427 or 07949 186589 out of hours. We can talk to you about your case and whether you would get legal aid, free of charge.
Our Criminal Defence Solicitors writes;-
1) What to do first:-
Usually it is not a good idea to attend without first taking legal advice from a specialist Criminal Defence Solicitor.
Your Criminal Solicitor can advise you whether it would be a good idea to have legal representation at Court.
Your Criminal Solicitor will also advise you whether you qualify for Legal Aid in the Magistrates Court.
Your Criminal Solicitor will need your National Insurance Number to help you apply for Legal Aid.
2) What to do next;-
Make sure you know where the Magistrates Court is and how to get there. Most Magistrates Courts are in the town or city centre, so parking is often a problem, although public transport is usually readily available.
3) On the day:-
Make sure you are at Court on time to meet your lawyer and appear in Court, otherwise you might breach any bail granted to you by the Police. If you are answering a Summons, then you are not on bail but it still helps to be on time. Do not ignore the proceedings: they will not go away.
4) What not to do:-
When in the Court room itself, DO NOT;-
- Wear a “hoodie” or other headgear.
- Have your hands in your pockets.
- Back chat the Magistrates
At different times, you will be asked to stand up or sit down; do it. Take the proceedings seriously. If you do not do these things, you will only make things worse for yourself.
5) How long will it take?
Usually longer than you might think. There is always a lot of waiting at Court for you and your Criminal Defence Lawyer, so take a newspaper, I-Pod, book or a friend with you. You might be at Court all morning or all afternoon – be patient! “Kicking off” just gets you thrown out by security.
6) Will it all be over in one go?
Not unless it is a Guilty plea for a minor offence; otherwise you can expect to go back to Court at least once more, either for a trial (if you plead “Not Guilty”) or to be sentenced (if you plead “Guilty” or are found guilty after a trial).
7) Is there a crèche?
Not at Teesside Magistrates Court, or most other Courts in the North East. Try not to take the kids at all (unless they are appearing in the Youth Court).
8) Can I get food and drink there?
At Teesside Magistrates Court, a cafe is open from 10am to 2pm every weekday. Good quality food and drink at low prices! Outside those hours, a machine is available.
9) I work, can I have my hearing on a Saturday?
No, not unless you have been arrested on a Friday night and you are the subject of a Police application to remand you in custody.
10) Will there be any publicity?
There could be, depending on how interesting the Media think your case might be. They can report what takes place at Court and publish your name and address; however, they must be careful not to prejudice your right to a fair trial (if you are pleading “Not Guilty”). Only Defendants under the age of 18 cannot be named (without the special permission of the Court).
The Government is talking about a new law to prevent the publication of the names of anyone accused of rape, unless they are convicted. No date has been fixed for this new law to be brought it and we do not know yet whether it will apply to all sex offences.
Article by Paul J Watson, Principal Solicitor.