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Do I need a lawyer

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Contact Armstrong Legal:
Sydney: (02) 9261 4555

When deciding whether to use a lawyer to represent you in court you may want to consider the following advantages and disadvantages:

If you are pleading guilty

Advantages

1. A good criminal lawyer knows what a court wants to hear and can make submissions directed to those issues (without making things up).

2. Just as importantly, a good criminal lawyer knows what a court does not want to hear and will not say things that are likely to anger the magistrate and make things worse.

3. A good criminal lawyer knows the sentencing law well and how to use it to your advantage.

4. A good criminal lawyer will bring you to life in a way that will help you to stand out from the crowd rather than blend in with the other 40 or so matters at court on the day.

5. A good criminal lawyer will ensure that your references bring you to life with the use of stories and examples. To earn the magistrate's trust you need to back up what you are saying.

6. Retaining a lawyer shows the court that you are taking the matter seriously.

7. Magistrates are aware that retaining a lawyer involves an expense. They know that those who have gone to the trouble of retaining legal representation have already suffered a financial penalty of sorts as a result of their mistake.

HINT:

Choose your criminal lawyer carefully because not all lawyers are the same. For hints on how to choose a good lawyer click here.

Disadvantages

1. The main (and often only) disadvantage of using a lawyer is the financial cost involved. In most cases the decision is worth the cost.

Each person is in a different financial position and the stakes involved with each matter are different. Occasionally there will be cases in which a lawyer can make little difference to the ultimate outcome (but these are few and far between). A good criminal lawyer will be up-front with you and tell you if they do not think that getting legal representation is worthwhile in your case.

If you are pleading not guilty

Advantages

1. The law is very complex. Even a simple charge like speeding has many aspects to it, which an ordinary person would not think of. A good lawyer will know what the precise legal elements of each offence are and be able to determine whether the police will be able to prove their case.

2. A good criminal lawyer will know the technical "loopholes" which may help you to beat a charge.

3. Equally, a good criminal lawyer will know when the case against you is strong and can save you from making things worse by running defences which have no hope of success.

4. A good criminal lawyer knows the rules of evidence and can question witnesses effectively. Many people who represent themselves are constantly interrupted and prevented from asking questions because their questions don’t comply with the rules.

5. Good cross examination skills and persuasive submissions are developed over time. Like any complex task, the more you do something the better you get.

6. The time saved by you preparing the case yourself (researching the law, contacting witnesses and preparing witness statements). The law is too complex and changes too frequent to rely on last minute preparation. Experienced solicitors are used to preparing criminal cases – professionally, confidentially and with minimal disruption to your personal and professional life.

7. A lawyer with good knowledge of criminal law can advise whether you should be pleading guilty to anything at all! Many people when told by police that they have committed a crime simply believe them and plead guilty – often this is not the right thing to do.

8. It may be that the police have charged you with the wrong offence, or charged you with a more serious offence than the evidence justifies. A good lawyer will be able to advise you on this point, and negotiate with police on your behalf.

Disadvantages

The only disadvantage of being legally represented on a plea of not guilty is the cost involved. Whether the cost of retaining a good lawyer is worth it, has to be an individual decision, however asking the following questions may help you decide:

1. What is at stake for you in the matter? (are you fighting the charge on principle, are you fighting to preserve your good record, are you fighting to keep your job, are you fighting to stay out of jail?)

2. Is there a financial cost associated with losing the case (For example, in the case of a car crash - will the insurer refuse to pay if you lose the case?; will you lose income if you lose your license or go to jail?)

3. What is your financial position? How much can you afford to pay for representation?

4. Are you eligible for legal aid (and if so, are you prepared to accept the level of service which legal aid is able to provide?)

5. Do you have family or friends who may be prepared to assist you financially in a time of need?


where to next?

If you suspect that you may be under investigation, or if you have been charged with an offence, it is vital to get competent legal advice as early as possible. Our lawyers are highly specialised in criminal law and will be able to guide you through the process while dealing with the various authorities related to your matter.

Why Choose Armstrong Legal?

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