Q: Do I really need a lawyer? Can’t I just go in there and plead guilty?
A: If you plead guilty you get the opportunity to say a few words to the magistrate or judge about what the penalty should be. If you have a lawyer the lawyer can do this on your behalf. There are some situations where a lawyer is going to cost you more than the benefit you are likely to get. If that was the case we would tell you there is no point (at least financially) in having us represent you in court. However, most times having a lawyer represent you ensures that everything the magistrate needs to know about the circumstances surrounding the offence gets explained in court. This can result in a significantly less severe penalty and could even be the difference between getting a fine and going to jail.
If you don’t have a criminal record and you don’t want this charge to show up on your record as it would impact on your job or career prospects, it is important that you see a lawyer before you go to court. A lawyer will prepare the appropriate application and ensure you have all the supporting evidence you need.
Q: How much does it cost to get representation for my charge?
A: The likely cost of representation varies depending on whether your charge is minor or more serious, whether you are pleading guilty or not guilty, whether a barrister is to be engaged and the facts and circumstances of your particular matter (for example the number of witnesses there will be). Ellery Brookman provides up to an hour of initial advice in relation to criminal law or traffic charge matters for a fixed fee of $220. This enables you to sit down with an experienced criminal law solicitor, discuss your situation and the options you have and get advice on what the court is likely to say about your situation. The likely cost of each of the options open to you will be discussed with you then.
Q: Do I have to pay up front?
A: In most cases you be required to pay up front or make regular payments as your matter progresses. Generally you will need to provide us with the full estimated cost of your final court appearance (your hearing or the day on which you will be pleading guilty) 2 weeks prior to attending court.
Q: Do you do criminal law for Legal Aid clients?
A: Unfortunately we are not able to take on criminal law Legal Aid clients. If you think you may qualify for Legal Aid you should speak to Legal Aid directly regarding your representation.