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Using a criminal defence lawyer


If you are arrested by the police for an offence, you should immediately exercise your right to free, independent legal advice. You should ask the police to contact the Defence Solicitor Call Centre who will decide whether telephone advice is sufficient, or allocate you a criminal defence lawyer.

Call us if you would prefer to hire your own specialist criminal lawyer to represent your best interests, independent of the lawyer offered to you by the police station.

Your legal rights

Your lawyer is likely to first speak to you over the telephone, but as the line is not secure your lawyer will not give you detailed advice or ask you detailed questions but will tell you to refrain from giving any interviews or samples before they arrive.

The right that the police have to delay your access to legal advice is very limited and can only be delayed by a high-ranking police officer, for specific reasons, and only when the offence is very serious.

One common question is what the maximum or possible penalty they accused is likely to face. There is obviously no simple answer to this question which suits all criminal offences. Each criminal offence will carry a maximum penalty and this penalty is set by the law relating to that particular offence.

Penalties for criminal offences, depending on the severity of your case, can be in the form of:

  • A custodial sentence
  • Community penalties, such as community service, treatment programmes, curfew and prohibiting certain activities an individual can do

Advantages of a lawyer

If you are under police investigation or facing criminal charges then you may want to consider getting the legal help of an experienced criminal lawyer. Criminal defence lawyers can provide you with the specialist help you need whether you are faced with:

  • A minor motoring offense
  • Charged with theft
  • Would like to know how to obtain bail
  • Would like to appeal against your conviction

Criminal defence lawyers have experience in dealing with a wide range of criminal offences and understand that going through the criminal justice system can be extremely daunting. It is important to know that the criminal lawyer you’re using know the applicable area of law, so you may wish to instruct your own.

Although you will be allocated a lawyer if you are taken into custody, you can still pay for a specialist criminal defence lawyer if you wish. Either way, whether you have to go to the magistrates’ court, Crown Court or the Court of Appeal, you will have an expert criminal legal advisor that can support your case and deal with any questions.

Your criminal defence lawyer’s role in the police station is very important. Not only will your lawyer advise you on the law relating to the crime you are alleged to have committed, your lawyer will guide you through the whole process at the police station and ensure that the police comply with their obligations under:

  • The Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984
  • The various codes of practice

For example, your lawyer will ensure that the police do not adopt any oppressive behaviour and give you the requisite breaks and rest periods. Your lawyer will also ensure that the police conduct any identification procedures fairly and that any errors in the way they are conducted are properly recorded so that any problems with evidence can be highlighted at trial.

If you are in any doubt about your legal rights, it is imperative to get the help offered by a criminal defence lawyer to ensure the best outcome for your case.

For more information on this topic, see our guidance page on criminal solicitors.

Have you been arrested or charged for a crime and wish to instruct your own personal criminal defence lawyer to improve the chances of success of your case? Contact Law works with some of the strongest criminal defence lawyers in the country and can recommend a lawyer based on the requirements of your case and type of offence. Please call us on 0800 046 1464 or complete the web-form above.

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