If you are charged with a crime you have the right to legal representation, so the first thing to do is contact criminal lawyers who can work with you to get the best result. Remember you don’t have to answer any police questions without your lawyer present, except to give your name and address.
While a lawyer will advise you, you are the only one who can decide whether a plea of guilty or innocence should be given. Depending on what the offence was, you may be charged and released on bail. Otherwise, if not given bail you will have to remain in custody until the matter is settled.
If you plead guilty and are released on bail, you may be given the option to not appear in court. Your case can be heard without your presence and you’ll be notified by mail of the penalty. If you plead not guilty, the trial must go ahead and you will need to attend. You should always have a lawyer to represent you as they know the law and can speak on your behalf, saying things in your defence that you may not have thought of.
This can help to reduce your sentence and may even prevent you from going to gaol, always a goal to be attained if possible. The lawyer can also bring up other things to make your life a little easier. For instance, if you are going to lose your driver’s licence but need it for work reasons, the lawyer can make a good case for you to be given a special licence that allows you to only drive to and from work.
If you’ve been charged with a serious offence you won’t have the option of not attending the trial, but will have to be present along with your lawyer. If you don’t attend, a warrant for your arrest will be issued. It is always better to attend and get it over with so you can get on with the rest of your life. Otherwise, you’ll be expecting to be arrested at every moment of the day.
The two main reasons to attend court are to defend the charge and if possible, to get a spent conviction. This means you don’t have to disclose information about the conviction in some circumstances, such as when applying for a job. An employer cannot discriminate against you for having a spent conviction. However, in certain circumstances such as an application to work with children, you will need to disclose it.
If you are convicted of an offence in your absence, it is possible to apply to have that decision set aside. This can be done by filling in the appropriate form and supporting Affidavit and presenting the reasons why you were not in court. Even though there is no time limit for this to occur, the sooner it is done the better the outcome is likely to be.