Getting legal advice before attending Court
Words you may need to know
Legal Representation - A legal representative is a lawyer giving you advice and acting on your behalf.
Remand - If you are held on remand, you will be either held in the Prison or released on bail until your case is completed.
Advocate - An Advocate is a lawyer. Another name is Solicitor. They are all qualified to advise you but only advocates can represent you in the Magistrate’s Court.
Duty advocate - when the Magistrates Court is sitting there is an advocate on duty who can provide basic advice and represent someone if necessary.
Comprehensive – full, detailed
Custodial sentence - a prison sentence ie someone can he held ‘in custody’
Defendant - someone who has been charged with an offence
Offence - here, a crime, an act punishable by law
Withdraw – pull out from or stop doing something
The Magistrate’s Court has a Duty Advocate scheme where, for a first appearance before the Magistrate, defendants facing certain types of offences will be given advice.
Although not a comprehensive list the types of cases which would get advice are where there is a real risk of a custodial sentence and/or the loss of driving licence eg
- serious assaults
- Domestic Violence cases
- driving while you have been thought to have been drinking or taking drugs.
This service is free of charge but you must arrive by 09.30 so that the Duty Advocate can discuss the case with you. If you have been taken into the Police station, you can also see the duty lawyer at the station. However, not everyone can see the duty lawyer and you will be asked some questions to see if you qualify.
If your case is not dealt with on the day (ie is remanded for any reason) then you will be required to get a lawyer outside of the Duty Advocate scheme. If you cannot afford your own lawyer then you will be sent to the Legal Aid office who will decide if you are entitled to legal aid after confirming your financial means.
Even if granted legal aid, if your financial means indicate that you can contribute a percentage of the cost of your defence you will be expected to.
If you are being held on custodial remand (ie in prison) you can ask the Unit Manager in charge of your wing for legal aid. You will be seen by the Duty Advocate on your first appearance in Court.
Right to Legal Representation
In the UK you have the right to see a lawyer but in Jersey you may be required to pay some or all of the advocate’s fees depending on your financial circumstances.
An Advocate in Jersey is the same as a lawyer in the UK. An Advocate does not have to agree to represent you and if they do, they can withdraw at any time if they are professionally embarrassed or conflicted – e.g. the evidence is clear but you will not follow the advice.
Advocate's right to refuse to act for a client
If your Advocate does not wish to carry on working for you, there is nothing to stop them from doing so. The Royal Court does not have the power to order an Advocate to carry on if they don't want to.
For more information about Legal Aid see: