criminal court work

Introduction : Criminal Law

At Mactaggart Solicitors, we can help you with a full range of criminal advice. Our solicitors have decades of experience and success in all types of criminal cases. We pride ourselves on being approachable and direct with our clients. We will put our expertise to your advantage to ensure we achieve the best possible outcome for you.

If you have been charged with a crime, or think you are going to be, contact us today.

Every case if different. We approach each case on an individual basis.

Simply stated, we will:

  • Provide you with expert advice
  • Advise you on all aspects of your case
  • Advise you on the funding options available
  • Work out the best course of action for you

You can be assured that we will use our experience and local knowledge to ensure that your case is presented in the best possible light.

We also have strong links with professionals in related fields and can, where appropriate, draw on their expertise to assist in the preparation and defence of your case.

Legal Aid is often available to cover the costs of your defence. We will be able to advise you on whether you qualify and, if not, provide a clear and transparent estimate of the likely costs.

Fees

When it comes to instructing a solicitor one of the main concerns clients’ have is the cost to them. At Mactaggart Solicitors, we will endeavour to help you finance your defence either through Legal Aid or privately at a competitive rate. There are three possible funding options when it comes to criminal cases:

01 Legal Aid:

Depending on your income and capital you may be in a position to have your fees paid by the Scottish Legal Aid Board. We can advise you on your eligibility on an assessment of your means. The Scottish Legal Aid Board require proof of your income and capital before Legal Aid is granted. We do not charge a fee for telling you if you are eligible or not.

To check your eligibility for Criminal Legal Aid visit: http://www.slab.org.uk/public/criminal/eligibility/

02 Private

If you are not eligible for Legal Aid we will discuss the financing of your case on an individual basis and explain to you the fees which will be incurred. We regularly accept payment by instalments and agree fixed rate fees for specific types of case, such as Sheriff Court Summary cases.

03 Insurance

Your household or other insurance policies may cover your legal fees. This depends on the type of cover offered by your Insurance Company. If you think that your insurance policy allows for legal expenses please bring it in with you. We shall contact your Insurance Company and establish the level of cover, if any, you may have. This is a common occurrence in road traffic incidents or offences relating to your employment.

Stages Of Advice

As soon as you hear the police wish to speak to you about an investigation, you should contact us. We will arrange a suitable time for you to attend the police station and avoid any of the embarrassment of being taken away in handcuffs in the back of a police car. You have a fundamental right to silence as an accused person or as a suspect, when detained. You are not required to answer any questions other than confirming your name, address and date of birth. You have the right to have your solicitor informed that you have been detained and the right to a private consultation, normally via telephone, with your solicitor before any interview takes place. If you are detained, make sure that you ask the police to contact us immediately.

If you do not tell the police that we are your solicitors, you could end up with a lawyer working from a call centre through the Scottish Legal Aid Board’s helpline. They will not have any local knowledge nor the ability to speak to the police officers dealing with your case prior to advising you.

Please note that following your private consultation, anything you say during an interview, or at anytime, can be used as evidence against you at court. It is important to remember that you can make no comment, and you should do so until you have been advised by us.

If you are charged with an offence make sure that you ask for us. The police will decide whether you will be released to appear at court at a later stage or whether you will be kept in custody to appear at court on the first day the court sits thereafter. Usually the next day or on Monday if it the weekend. If you are released from custody and later receive a court summons from the Procurator Fiscal, you should contact us. If you are kept in custody, you must tell the police and G4S officers at the court cells, that we are your solicitors.

Attending Court

We understand that attending court is a stressful experience. You must attend at all diets of your case otherwise a warrant for your arrest may be granted. If possible dress smartly and ensure you arrive early so that we can discuss your case before the court starts. If you are going to be late, please let us know. You will normally require to attend court at least twice during your case and possibly more.

Undertaking or Pleading Diet:

You may be required to attend at a Bail Undertaking or at a Pleading Diet. This is the stage at which we will tender a plea of Not Guilty or Guilty on your behalf. There are some exceptions to this, such as having your case Continued Without a Plea being tendered, and if they apply we shall explain them to you at the time. Once a plea of Not Guilty has been recorded by the court, you will be given two further dates. The first for the Intermediate Diet and the second for your Trial Diet. You need to attend court on both of these dates and any defence witnesses need to be able to come to court for the Trial Diet.

Where possible, our solicitors will tender your plea without you having to attend court for the Pleading Diet. If you are pleading Guilty, however, you should attend if at all possible or your case may be continued for a personal appearance to a future date.

Where a guilty plea is tendered the Judge will then hear the facts. We usually agree what will be said with the Procurator Fiscal to prevent any unwelcome surprises. A plea in mitigation on your behalf is then submitted and the Judge proceeds to sentence you.

Where a plea of not guilty has been tendered we then obtain the evidence against you (called Disclosure) from the Procurator Fiscal and fully investigate your defence to ensure that you have the best possible chance of success.

We will of course keep you up to date with all developments, and answer any concerns you may have before your next court appearance.

Intermediate Diet:

The Intermediate Diet is a procedural hearing at which we, and the Procurator Fiscal, advise the court whether the case is fully prepared for trial. We can also change your plea if you wish to do so.

Trial Diet:

The Trial Diet is the hearing at which the evidence from both sides is heard and the Judge decides whether you are guilty or not guilty. You may also have the case against you found Not Proven. That has the same effect as a not guilty verdict.

Summary Cases

The majority of cases heard in the Scottish Courts are heard under Summary procedure. The Crown decide which procedure is used to prosecute each individual case. Although not as serious as cases heard under solemn procedure, they can still result in very serious outcomes including a prison sentence of up to 12 months. When you need the best possible outcome it is important that you instruct us immediately.

We can provide you with the correct legal advice for your situation backed up with sound local knowledge and reliability. We will work with you and investigate your defence fully to prepare the best case for you to achieve the best result possible.

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Solemn Cases

Solemn cases involve the most serious charges. Examples are murder, rape and serious assaults. These cases will always be heard either by a Sheriff and Jury within the Sheriff Court or at the High Court of Justiciary.

We will prepare, organise and advise you carefully and with attention to detail. We will instruct additional support professionally where necessary, such as doctors, forensic scientists and toxicologists. In some of the most serious cases, and those cases heard in the High Court we shall instruct an advocate or solicitor advocate to present your case giving you the dual benefit of local knowledge and advice along with the best representation available.