Lawyers for Criminal and Regulatory Trials
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What is a trial?
A ‘trial’ is a contested Court hearing. Trials will take place if there is an allegation against an individual or company, and that individual or company denies the allegation, such matters will usually progress to trial.
As an example, a person (the Defendant) may face a prosecution for careless driving, and the Defendant believes he or she has not committed the offence of careless driving and is not guilty, in such circumstances the Defendant would enter a plea of ‘not guilty’ and the case would be adjourned for a trial to take place.
What is the purpose of a trial?
The purpose of a trial is to establish whether the person or company being prosecuted is guilty of the alleged offence. Using the example mentioned above (careless driving), the purpose of the trial is to establish whether the Defendant is guilty of the alleged offence. Simply because a person pleads not guilty it does not mean that the case is concluded. Trials are a mechanism used to determine the outcome (guilty / not guilty).
What if a person pleads guilty?
If a person or company being prosecuted pleads guilty to an allegation, then a trial will not take place in respect of that allegation. A trial is not necessary when a guilty plea is entered because the Defendant accepts the wrongdoing.
If a Defendant is being prosecuted for several offences, a Defendant may plead guilty to some offences and not guilty to other offences, in such circumstance it will usually be necessary for a trial to take place in respect of the offences the Defendant pleaded not guilty.
How is a decision made at trial?
If a matter is progressing to trial, this would usually mean that the Defendant denies the allegation placed against him / her by the prosecution. The onus will be upon the prosecuting authority (CPS / police / HSE) to prove (beyond all reasonable doubt in Criminal prosecutions) that the offence has been committed.
The Court will hear evidence from the Prosecution and Defence. Evidence will usually be heard in the form of oral testimony from witnesses, expert witnesses, video evidence and photographic evidence. The prosecution lawyer will seek to undermine evidence adduced by the Defence and the Defence lawyer will seek to identify weaknesses in the prosecution evidence / case.
The Court may also hear legal submissions from the defence as to the admissibility of evidence (if appropriate) along with closing submissions which are carefully crafted to assist the defence case.
The Court will then consider the evidence which was presented during the trials along with the appropriate legislation to determine whether the offence has been committed.
Why do you need a lawyer at trials?
In short, without a lawyer defending your case at trial, the likelihood is that you will be convicted. Attempting to defend yourself at trial is the same as attempting to performing surgery upon oneself. It goes without saying that a defendant representing themselves at trial is unlikely to be acquitted. If you are considering pleading not guilty to an offence and progressing your case to trial, you should instruct a specialist lawyer to represent you at Court.
Below are some reasons why you should instruct a lawyer to defend you at trial:
- The prosecuting authority will have instructed a qualified lawyer to prosecute you or your company. A prosecutor will undertake his / her role to the best of their ability and will not ‘take it easy’ because you are not legally represented.
- If you decide not to instruct a lawyer to defend your case, you have made the job to prosecute you / your company far easier for the prosecutor.
- Because you are not a lawyer, the prosecutor may seek to ‘push the boundaries’ when in Court as you will not be aware of what they can and more importantly can’t do.
- Your individual circumstances may have contained a defence which was not raised by you, as you were not aware that the defence existed.
- You may decide to plead guilty to something when there was a defence available.
- You will not possess the appropriate skill and experience to cross examine prosecution witnesses. This is a skill which takes qualified lawyers several years to master.
- There could be procedural errors in the prosecution case which could potentially make the prosecution invalid. Without the assistance of an experienced lawyer, you will be unaware of these potential errors.
- A conviction could potentially be detrimental to your liberty or businesses.
- A litigant in person will not possess the skill on how to properly prepare a case for trial.
- A litigant in person is unlikely to possess the confidence to present a case in Court.
If you are pleading not guilty and wish to stand a reasonable chance of being acquitted (found not guilty) you should certainly instruct a suitably qualified Solicitor / Barrister to present your case before the Court.
Kang & Co Solicitors Limited
1 Victoria Square
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