Unless you have been charged with a criminal offence in the past, you probably have very little idea of what you need to do to prepare for a court appearance and how much effective legal representation is likely to cost.
I was in this exact position when I was falsely accused of assault causing grievous bodily harm (GBH). The fact that GBH was involved meant that, were I to be found guilty of the charges, a prison sentence would be automatic. Faced with the prospect of spending up to 5 years in jail – or much longer if intent was proved – for something I did not do, I naturally panicked and considered all sorts of ridiculous solutions.
These ranged from confronting the person who made the accusations to fleeing the country and starting a new life overseas. I can see now that pursuing either of these two options would have been incredibly stupid but at the time, common sense was in short supply as far my mind was concerned.
Finding a Good Criminal Solicitor in London
I was fortunate in that I was able to engage the services of a first-class legal expert, who advised me to take the more sensible option of sticking around and fighting the charges, and I would like to let others who may find themselves in the same situation know what they need to consider when looking for legal representation.
- Cost – The good news for those who simply do not have the money available to spend on experienced legal experts is that legal aid is available for most criminal cases that are tried in England & Wales. This was a huge weight off my mind as, although I earn a reasonable wage and was not claiming any benefits at the time, I certainly didn’t have the financial resources to fund a lengthy court case. For those who are in receipt of benefits, legal aid is often provided completely free of charge.
- Experience – Just because you are relying on legal aid to fund your case, it does not mean that you have to settle for second best as far as legal representation is concerned. Whatever your financial status, you should make sure that any firm of solicitors you approach, whether in London or elsewhere, has plenty of experience of dealing with criminal cases similar to yours.
- Location – Whilst much can be done over the phone and the Internet these days, you are going to want to have face-to-face meetings with the criminal solicitor in London who is representing you so make sure that you choose one in an easy-to-reach location.
The three factors above are those I personally found to be the most important but there are of course others that you will need to take into account. One thing that I found worked in my favour was the fact that my solicitor believed in my innocence from the very start and was easy to get along with. If this is not the case for you initially, it is well worth looking elsewhere for legal assistance.