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Criminal Law

Criminal law is the law which sets out the punishments for those who have been deemed guilty of breaking the law, but it also serves to ensure that these punishments are just and that individuals are not mistreated when they come under suspicion of having committed a crime.

What help is available for those who are accused of a crime?

For those who are on a low income, legal aid may also be important to their case, enabling them to pay legal costs without having to worry about the pricetag.

It’s also important to be aware of the laws behind criminal convictions and sentencing, which place limitations on the punishments and sentences which may be implemented for those who have been found guilty of a crime, ensuring that the court system offers fair trials and justice for all.

What other topics come under the remit of criminal law?

Prison law is an important aspect of criminal law. Even those who have been convicted of a crime are entitled to certain rights and fair treatment, and prison law is in place to ensure that they are not mistreated while in jail.

The Proceeds of Crime Act is a wide-ranging piece of legislation intended to ensure that those involved in criminal activity do not garner profit from their misdeeds.

There are also special laws in place for taking action against the police if they acted inappropriately or unjustly towards you in any situation. You may be entitled to compensation if you can prove that the police mistreated you in some fashion.

Defence solicitors and criminal justice

The services of a criminal lawyer are essential if you have been charged with a criminal offence. Without the proper legal advice you may not receive the justice the law entitles you to.

No matter what the offence you have been accused of, whether it’s theft, insurance fraud or what have you, it is vital to consult a criminal lawyer as soon as you can, especially if you are being held in custody and due to appear in court.

Police station advice

If you have been arrested you will be subject to a range of criminal law formalities, such as interviews, court hearings and confiscation proceedings. Your rights entitle you to contact a criminal lawyer before any formalities occur; most criminal lawyer firms are available 24 hours a day and will be able to provide you with a lawyer any time of day. You can also ask the police station for an independent solicitor. Getting legal advice from a solicitor when you have been arrested is free of charge.

You are probably familiar with the phrase, “You have the right to remain silent…” In the heat of the moment you may say something regrettable and this can be used against you in court, so it is important to exercise this right, especially if the crime you are being accused of is particularly serious or sensitive, until a criminal lawyer is present to advise you.

Consulting a criminal lawyer won’t cause anyone to make the assumption that you are guilty, so even if you know you haven’t done anything wrong it is vital to take advantage of this entitlement to ensure you understand your position. A criminal lawyer can give you advice on the procedures and law relating to your case and help you understand exactly why you are being accused of the crime.

You are entitled to have a criminal lawyer present at the interview. They can also serve to help your defence by acquiring video evidence and witnesses or by consulting other lawyers who specialise in defending the type of crime you have been accused of.

Court hearing advocacy

If you are due in court, it is highly advisable to take advantage of the expertise and experience offered by a criminal lawyer in order to help you with your case.

Criminal lawyers can give you on advice on whether you should plead guilty or not guilty and also predict the likely outcome including the possible penalties that could be imposed.

Depending on the seriousness of your case, your hearing will be in either the Magistrates Court of the Crown Court. A criminal lawyer can represent you in either court, there they can ensure you get the best possible defence and also provide support in what can be an intimidating setting.

To be eligible for Legal Aid and get the services of a criminal lawyer for free, you must pass the Interests of Justice test and a means test. See our Legal Aid section for more details.