When deciding whether to use a lawyer to represent you in court for your traffic matter you may want to consider the following advantages and disadvantages:
- A good traffic lawyer knows what a court wants to hear and can make submissions directed to those issues (without making things up).
- Just as importantly, a good traffic lawyer knows what a court does not want to hear and will not say things that are likely to frustrate the Magistrate.
- A good traffic lawyer knows the law relating to licence appeals and traffic sentences well and how to use it to your advantage.
- A good traffic lawyer will bring you to life in a way that will help you to stand out from the crowd in a matter of minutes. This is important when there are 40 or so other matters at court on the same day.
- A good traffic lawyer will ensure that your references differentiate you from the crowd. To earn the Magistrate's trust you need to back up what you are saying.
- Retaining a lawyer shows the court that you are taking the matter seriously.
- 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.
Choose your criminal lawyer carefully because not all lawyers are the same. For hints on how to choose a good lawyer click here.
- 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 traffic lawyer will be up-front with you and tell you if they do not think that getting legal representation is worthwhile in your case.
- The law is very complex. Even a simple traffic infringement like speeding has many aspects to it, which an ordinary person would not think of. A good traffic lawyer will know how to cross-examine a police officer on their use of a LIDAR and the possible errors in your detection.
- A good traffic lawyer will identify the fundamental flaws in the evidence or police case which may help you to beat a charge.
- Equally, a good 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.
- A good traffic 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.
- Good cross examination skills and persuasive submissions are developed over time. Like any complex task, the more you do something the better you get.
- 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 cases – professionally, confidentially and with minimal disruption to your personal and professional life.
- A lawyer with good knowledge of traffic 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.
- 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 traffic lawyer will be able to advise you on this point, and negotiate with police on your behalf.
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:
- 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 licence and job or are you fighting to stay out of jail?)
- 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?)
- What is your financial position? How much can you afford to pay for representation?
- Are you eligible for legal aid (and if so, was the matter within Legal Aid guidelines?)
- Do you have family or friends who may be prepared to assist you financially in a time of need?
where to next?
In NSW, traffic offences are treated seriously. Therefore, it is important to get competent legal advice as early as possible, whether you have received a penalty notice, had your licence suspended or been charged with a serious offence. Our lawyers are highly experienced and understand the difficulties you face without a licence. We can guide you through the process while dealing with the various authorities related to your matter.
Why Choose Armstrong Legal?