Preparation For Trial

Preparation For Trial

TIME
It may seem as if your trial date is a long way off but this time can pass very quickly and it is important that you and your lawyers are ready in plenty of time.  The trial process can be very stressful and it will not help you if everything has to be done at the last minute.

YOUR INSTRUCTIONS
It is very important that you keep in touch with your legal team and give them all of the information that they ask for to prepare for your trial.  You are their best source of information about what actually happened.  If you do not help them to help you, the chances of your being found guilty increase. They will need to know as soon as possible about the details of any of the following:

  • Witnesses to the facts of the case with contact details, if known
  • Photographs, videos, maps, plans or diagrams or other documents that might help
  • Medical problems suffered by you, the complainant or any of the witnesses
  • Character witnesses who would be prepared to support you, with contact details

To ensure that they have all of the information that they need, make an appointment so that they can take a full proof of evidence from you.  This is a written account of your instructions about the case and it will make it easier for them to represent you if they are able to refer back to it as they go along.

PRE-TRIAL CONFERENCES
Once you have given your full written instructions, the team can properly prepare your case.  However, if you want to have a further conference nearer the time to go over your evidence and ask any questions that have occurred to you then this should be arranged.

If your trial is being heard in the Crown Court, then it is likely that the barrister or solicitor-advocate that is representing you in court will want to see you in person before the trial.  In fact, in many cases they would try to arrange for you to meet with them even before you enter your plea at the Crown Court if that is possible.  They will want to ensure that you understand the merits of your case and the outcomes if you win or lose.  They will also discuss with you the different tactical approaches that might be made to the case.

Whether your case is being heard in the Magistrates’ Court or the Crown Court, you will have to make the decision as to whether or not to give evidence yourself.  The law says that you do not have to give evidence in your own case.  You have the right to say nothing.  However, there are potential disadvantages to not giving evidence and you will need to discuss this with the person who is going to represent you in court.

TRIAL IN YOUR ABSENCE
Please be aware that if you fail to attend court on the day of your trial, the court may well decide to proceed to hear the evidence in your absence.  In those circumstances, you would lose the opportunity to give evidence in your own defence and the chances of you being found guilty are significantly increased.

If you are unable to attend court on the day of your trial you will need to contact your solicitors without delay.  If you are ill then you will be expected to make an appointment to see your GP and you would need to supply a medical note to the court as evidence.  If you are unable to attend for some other reason, that reason would have to be sufficient for the court to agree to adjourn the case.  Not being able to afford to travel to court is rarely a good enough reason

STAYING IN CONTACT
Your solicitors are obliged to notify the court if they have lost contact with you or if they have not received instructions from you in advance of trial.  They are expected to do this in good time before the trial date, usually at least two weeks.

If you do not reply to their calls, emails or letters, they will have to notify the court and your case may be listed for you to attend.  If you then fail to attend, the court may issue a warrant for your arrest.

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