Being in a position of having to find a criminal law solicitor can be intimidating and stressful but so can the process of finding one. There are a number of issues to consider before searching for the right solicitor and several things can be done to make finding a reputable and trustworthy one a little easier.
CHOOSING A CRIMINAL LAW SOLICITOR
Not all solicitors deal with criminal law. It is a specialised area of the law that not everyone qualified to do so wishes to practice. The first thing to do is to identify several solicitors who do practise criminal law. Obviously it helps to choose those who are within a reasonable distance from the defendant’s home address.
There are several sources from which to obtain the details of solicitors who specialise in criminal law. One is the Law Society. Their website offers a free service for anyone searching for a solicitor. They will not recommend a particular solicitor or firm but will provide details of those suitable in a particular area. Their search page asks for the type of legal issue to be dealt with and the postcode of the area in which a solicitor is being searched for. By simply entering these details a list of suitable solicitors is shown.
The Law Society will also give information about whether or not a particular solicitor is accredited in criminal law. Accreditation schemes demonstrate solicitors’ competence in an area of specialism, such as criminal law and representation. All of this can help in choosing the right criminal law solicitors.
Some people may have used solicitors previously and had positive experience of them. It may be that if they cannot deal with the matter to hand they will recommend another firm that they feel can.
Law Centres and Citizens Advice should also be able to provide information about local solicitors who may be appropriate to represent someone in criminal proceedings. They may also be able to offer further help, although not free representation.
BE CLEAR ON THE CHARGES
First contact with a solicitor can often be by telephone. In order for the solicitor to fully understand what charges are being faced and what is going to have to be defended it will be necessary to be able to provide as much information as possible. Although the solicitor chosen will eventually see all of the relevant documents it is still useful to be able to give as clear a description of the issues involved as possible. This will also allow an assessment of how responsive the solicitor is and how quickly he or she seems to grasp the issues. If they don’t sound convincing or clear, they should be passed over.
Don’t be afraid to ask questions. It may seem obvious, but some people do not. They are so relieved when they start talking to a solicitor that they feel can represent them that they forget to stop and ask about what could be important issues. For example, the solicitor on the end of the telephone line who sounds friendly, supportive and competent may be going on leave two days later and will not handle the case. Fees may also be way above what someone expected and could cause problems.