Whether you are being questioned by police or summoned to court, speaking without an attorney’s advice and guidance can possibly incriminate you.
For people who don’t have an attorney or can’t afford one, asking for a duty solicitor to defend you in court is free. This is in keeping with the Legal Services Commission, UK, which administers free legal aid through its rotary of duty solicitors. Plainly speaking, a duty solicitor is an independent criminal defence attorney from a local law firm who provides pro-bono legal assistance when someone is accused or suspected of a crime.
However, many people believe that only guilty people hire legal help. This is not true, and getting legal help at the right time can save you a lot of trouble.
Why Do You Need A Duty Solicitor?
It is advisable to contact or ask for a duty solicitor the moment you’re aware of being accused or suspected of a criminal offence. Here are two ways in which a duty solicitor can help:
1. Representation At The Police Station
When you are summoned to the police station for questioning, a duty solicitor can act as a representative to ensure your rights are upheld. They also negotiate with the police in your best interest, whether you’re guilty or innocent. Moreover, a duty solicitor can prevent the police from forcefully incriminating you with manipulative tactics.
Usually, a duty solicitor arranges a meeting with the client before they go to the police station to discuss the case and equip them with the correct procedures. They tell you when to answer and when to remain silent during the interrogation.
2. Representation At Court
If your case goes to court after the police interrogation stage, it is highly recommended to hire a duty solicitor to represent you in the Magistrate’s court. They will ensure you receive legal advice and the benefits of all citizen rights.
However, you should note that asking for a duty solicitor is not allowed in court if you haven’t been retained in custody. But you may be allowed if you haven’t received any legal advice yet.
How To Get A Duty Solicitor?
Every citizen has a right to free legal aid from the government to request the services of a duty solicitor at every step of the legal system. Moreover, both the police and court will remind you of your free legal right to an independent duty solicitor.
During the interrogation, the police will contact the Defence Solicitor Call Centre (DSCC) on your behalf to seek the services of a duty solicitor. However, there’s no guarantee that you’ll get an experienced counsel who offers high-quality legal aid.
So, it’s best to tell the police or court that you’ll like to choose an attorney of your choice and hire a trustworthy duty solicitor.