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LondonlawyerJ, Advocate
Category: Law
Satisfied Customers: 818
Experience:  Solicitor with over 15 years experience.
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I am going to court tomorrow on a common assault charge without

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I am going to court tomorrow on a common assault charge without a solicitor. How do I represent myself?

LondonlawyerJ :

Hello I am a solicitor with over 15 years experience. I will help you with this.

LondonlawyerJ :

Are you intending to plead guilty or not guilty? Also can you tell me in general terms what you are accused of doing and who to? Also have you got any previous convictions?

Customer: I am pleading not guilty to the the charge, However I had a caution last year for similar offence. It was a domestic incident with my wife. Although I have been charged my wife however, has written to the police to have the case dropped
LondonlawyerJ :

Common assault is an offence that can only be dealt with in the Magistrates Court. This will keep the procedure simple tomorrow. You should get to court in good time and make yourself known to the usher in the courtroom where your case is listed. You will be given a set of prosecution papers which will include the charge sheet, a case summary and the main prosecution statements.

LondonlawyerJ :

In court you will be asked to plead either guilty or not guilty and you should obviously plead not guilty. You need to be aware that you will be sentenced more lightly if you plead guilty at this hearing compared to being found guilty after trial or pleading at a later date.

You should be aware that there is risk of a custodial sentence in common assault cases especially in a domestic situation. However if this would be your first conviction for an assault I think imprisonment is unlikely unless there are other aggravating features (see p 23 of this document for more on sentencing

You may be able to get help from the court duty solicitor and they will be experienced lawyers who know your particular court very well. They are also free of charge I have represented lots of people accused of common assault as duty solicitor.

If you plead not guilty a trial date will be set and you will need to say which witnesses you want to attend and give evidence at trial and in general terms the nature of your defence (eg it didn’t happen, or self defence etc.). You will be asked which witnesses you want at trial to attend and this will include the complainant and any witnesses whose evidence you disagree with.

You will be warned that if you don’t attend court you could be committing an offence, could lose your bail and that the trial can take place in your absence.

You should be aware that just because the alleged victim in this case does not want the case to go ahead does not mean that the case will be stopped. The CPS are in charge of bringing the case and the complainant is only a witness to them. In many areas there are CPS policies against dropping domestic cases.

I assume that you have not done anything to encourage the writing of the letter by the complainant. To do so would be very dangerous. You may well have bail conditions preventing you from having contact with the complainant and even if you don’t have such a condition contact is dangerous as it can +

632.leave you open to allegations of interfering with witnesses etc.

I would suggest that you use the duty solicitor if he is willing to help (which he probably will be) as he can safely ask about the letter and negotiate more effectively with the prosecutor who he probably talks to every week than you will be able to. If here are bail conditions that maybe restricting your access to your children he may be help you with those too.

In short: attend court, get the papers, use the duty solicitor if possible, plead not guilty, make sure all the witnesses you need are going to attend court and then leave court on bail with your trial date.

You should be aware that you are more likely to be found not guilty if you are represented than if you represent yourself. Also, the court my make an order requiring solicitor to be instructed at public expense to conduct the cross examination of the complainant if you are not planning to be represented at your trial.

Hope this answers your question but please feel free to ask follow up questions. Also I would be grateful if you wold please take the time to rate my service. This will not close the question and I will continue to answer further questions.

Customer: So what happens if I plead guilty tomorrow?
LondonlawyerJ :

Then your hearing would become a sentencing hearing and you would be sentenced in accordance with the guidelines I gave you a link to in the last message. The case would probably be adjourned for a pre-sentence report to be prepared by probation.

You should not plead guilty unless you actually are guilty and you think that the prosecution are likely to be able to prove the case. If the complainant is a reluctant witness who may not attend court then this is something to consider in weighing the likelihood of you being convicted. In the absence of a confession or some other compelling evidence they may find it hard to prove the case

LondonlawyerJ and other Law Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 4 years ago.
My hearing is on the 28th of March 2014. I am having difficulty getting a solicitor to represent me in court on the day due to financial reasons I am wondering if you any advice for me.
There are 2 tests for legal aid. The first is the merits test (is your case serious enough?). It is.

The second is the means test (are your means sufficiently limited). You can follow this link to see if you qualify.

Otherwise you will need to pay privately I am afraid.

YOU can follow this link to try to find a criminal lawyer in your area.

I hope this helps.