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Representing Yourself in Court – Should I hire a Lawyer?

February 3, 2017 by in category News with 2 and 0
Home > News > News > Representing Yourself in Court – Should I hire a Lawyer?
Representing Yourself in Court or Should I hire a Lawyer

We are often asked by potential clients who contact us about their motoring case, “Can I not just represent myself? Do I really need to hire a lawyer for this?”. This is however a very difficult question to answer without us coming off as salesmen just trying to secure a sale. The simple answer is that any non-lawyer can go to court, tell their story, and plead guilty, or even try to defend the motoring charge themselves and plead not guilty. And it very may well be that in either situation the person representing themselves may get a decent result in their favour. However, for every case that does end with a happy ending for a person representing themselves, we receive hundreds of enquiries where the client represented themselves and then have come to us to ultimately pick up the pieces.

We understand that when you are facing motoring prosecution, the last thing many people want to think about is spending money to hire a lawyer. But the consequences of representing oneself at court could cost far more than the fees we charge. For many, to answer the question of whether you should hire a lawyer or not we would propose you weigh the costs of instructing us, to the value of what you could potentially lose if you are unsuccessful. Perhaps more important than even this, what value do you put on the peace of mind of handing over your case to experts in their respective fields.

What if I am pleading guilty?

You may be wondering “If I plan to plead guilty, why should I instruct a lawyer?”. This is a fair and reasonable question. In situations that won’t affect you losing your licence, losing your job, or ultimately hindering you too much, representing yourself might just be the easiest and most cost-effective method. This soon changes when you’re facing charges that could result in you losing your licence, or your job, and are even costlier when facing charges that could end with a custodial sentence. Even when pleading guilty, it is our job to present mitigating statements and evidence before the court to lessen your penalties. This could very well mean the difference between having points on your licence, or being disqualified from driving. In more serious incidents, this could mean the difference between a community order, and a custodial sentence. When putting this into perspective, advising a lawyer to represent you for a slight fee could cost far less than the highest penalties you might face.

Even lawyers could use representation

A few years ago, we were contacted by a barrister who represented herself at the Magistrates’ Court defending a common motoring offence of failing to furnish driver details. Despite her legal expertise, and being far more educated in legal matters than our average clientele, she was convicted of the offence and faced 6 penalty points on her licence, which led her to facing a totting up ban of 12 months since she had amassed 12 points in a 3-year period. She lodged an appeal and immediately came to us for guidance just 2 days before the appeal hearing. After a long day in Crown Court, the appeal was ultimately withdrawn, and she was able to drive off into the sunset! Literally!

We asked this client to help explain why she would never represent herself again, even though she was entirely qualified to do so and she stated:

‘I am a member of one of the leading criminal sets in the country and have been practising criminal law for 13 years. As a result, I thought I had all the tools needed to represent myself – access to the law and an ability to speak in court. I was wrong. The law went beyond simply looking it up in a book – it required specialist knowledge that I’m not ashamed to say I didn’t know nor did two other so-called ‘leading’ motor specialist firms that I contacted – their advice ‘I don’t think you have a defence’. This was after I had researched the firm and noted that their website said I did! Furthermore, appearing in court all alone was scary – and that’s coming from someone that goes to court every day. Having someone there to represent me took that stress away.  I can honestly say I would never dream of representing myself again and if I or someone close to me found themselves in a similar position I would send them in Jeanette Miller’s direction straight away.’

If you need legal advice in regards to a motoring offence, or need legal representation, give us a call. As with the case mentioned above, we are able to get involved at even an extremely short notice.

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2 Comments

  • Ross Presley
    on June 6, 2020 Reply

    I’m self employed and a care taker at a local school where my kids go. Unfortunately I had to go self employed as the company I worked for any liquidated and I lost money that was owed to me . I found it hard being self employed and instead of asking for help I ignored letters , which meant I ignored my insurance letter to say it would be cancelled . On a frosty morning , skidded in ice and went into someone In the lanes , we both were skidding and it was t anyone’s fault . However he phoned police straight away and they arrived and it was then I found out I had. I no insurance … on top of this my van had just bee n mot’d a month ago and they put some wheels on for me and the tyres were bold according to the police . I have now been charged with 2 bold tyres and no insurance . I have had money struggles since going out self employed to the fact I nearly lost our family rented home however got my self a job at a school ( 12 hours a week) and some more self employed work for someone . I now face a disqualification.

    What would you recommend ?

    Thanks Ross

    • Jeanette Miller
      on June 16, 2020 Reply

      Hi,
      We are really sorry to hear about your situation. It is difficult to advise based on the information you have supplied so why not get in touch by phone and take advantage of our free telephone triage service and we can help you further (*free of charge at this stage.)

      The Geoffrey Miller Team

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