For many people the only time they have contact with the criminal law is when they receive a Fixed Penalty Notice or a Magistrates Court Summons for a road traffic offence.
The fear of losing a driving licence and the unfamiliar legal process involved can cause sleepless nights and worries. Losing your driving licence could mean losing your job.
Road traffic law can often appear to be a minefield of strange legalities and technical jargon. However, there are always ways through this and at Eric Robinson Solicitors, we can help you make sense of it all, and get the best result, whether driving a private or commercial vehicle. We have access to forensic and accident reconstruction experts who help us, in appropriate cases, in advising you.
Read on to learn about our 10 top tips concerning motoring offences, an explanation of some of the more common types of offence and information about how we could help ensure that you keep your licence.
How long will my case take?
Time scales are generally outside our control and are determined almost exclusively by the prosecuting authorities and the courts. These may vary depending on the court area in which the prosecution takes place. In Hampshire, experience tells us that a summons is currently being issued about 2 to 3 months before the first hearing. The date will be given in the summons itself.
If a guilty plea is entered, it is likely that the case against you will be dealt with and sentenced on that same day. If for any reason the court is unable to do so, and needs to adjourn the case, the length of the adjournment will be fixed by the court itself, but is unlikely to be for longer than 14 days.
If a not guilty plea is entered, the court will need to fix a date for the trial to take place and for the evidence to be considered. This will be determined by the availability of prosecution and defence witnesses, the courts view of how long the trial will take, and how busy the court actually is. Most motoring cases do not take longer than a half day, but sometimes they can take a day or even longer. Our current experience is that in the Hampshire area, trials of this nature are taking about 2 to 3 months to be listed after the date of the first hearing.
How much will representation cost?
Many motoring cases can be dealt with by way of a fixed fee, and these are provided below. These fees are based on Southampton Magistrates Court proceedings, but we are happy to tailor the fixed fee for representation at other courts too. Alternatively, we are happy to charge you on a time basis at our prevailing hourly rate, currently £299 plus VAT at 20%, should you prefer to be charged in this way.
With any of our rates, you will have full and frank advice from a solicitor, barrister or highly experienced and specialised criminal lawyer in relation to all relevant aspects of your case.
Please note that we cannot provide a timescale of when your hearing(s) will take place, as this depends entirely on when the court chooses to list the matter.
We offer the following fixed fees:
£149 plus VAT at 20% (£29.80):
This covers a 30 minute office appointment with an experienced Criminal lawyer to advise you as to your options regarding plea and court room procedure. Advice can be given on the trial process and/or sentencing guidelines, where this is appropriate. Advice may include advising as to whether you have grounds to argue exceptional hardship (for those at risk of disqualification by reason of having 12 penalty points or more on their driving licence), or whether “special reasons” exist, for those who may have driven whilst over the legal limit for alcohol.
We are happy to provide guidance on how to represent yourself in Court, should you go on to do so, and how you can help to minimise the sentence passed.
This fixed fee does not include any further work or advice after the conclusion of the 30 minute appointment. We are happy to advise as to further funding options at the end of this meeting, should you wish, and to provide a bespoke quotation for additional work or representation.
£1,000 plus VAT at 20% (£200):
This fee covers one, half-day Court appearance at Southampton magistrates Court (inclusive of travel disbursements) by a solicitor or barrister with:
- Consideration of the evidence
- The taking of your instructions for any driving offence, whether you wish to plead guilty or not guilty
- Advice, where appropriate, as to whether an exceptional hardship, or special reasons argument might be made
- If you plead not guilty, you will be provided with procedural advice and assisted with the completion of the case management process in Court
- If your plea is guilty, it will include advice on likely sentence and presentation of your mitigation to the Court
- Advice on appeal, if appropriate
Most cases are concluded within the half day attendance. However if your case is not concluded within that time, for example because you are required by the Court to see the probation service, and the probation service is not ready to report back to the Court before the afternoon session, we are happy to remain at Court for as long as is required to conclude your representation that day, for a supplemental fee of £500 plus VAT (£100).
If you pleaded not guilty at court, and a trial was fixed in a case management process, this fixed fee does not include representation at the trial or any further work after the one initial hearing. This also applies if the court adjourns the case for any other reason.
£1,500 plus VAT at 20% (£300):
This fixed fee covers:
- Representation at Southampton Magistrates Court on a single occasion for up to a whole day.
- The consideration of evidence.
- Advice in relation to plea and likely sentence.
- All preparation required for an exceptional hardship or special reasons argument before the court and representation at a single hearing for this purpose.
- The instruction of any expert, and the consideration of reports and/or the obtaining of medical records. The cost of obtaining such reports or medical records, and the cost of an expert’s time is not included and would be in addition to our own fixed fee. Those costs are often expensive and may well exceed our own fees.
- Advice on appeal, where appropriate.
We find most fixed fee clients, are happy to obtain their own character references, under our guidance. If you would like us to take statements from any potential witnesses as to character or otherwise, an additional cost will be incurred and we will provide you with a bespoke quotation for undertaking this additional work, if it is required.
£2,500 plus VAT at 20% (£500):
This fixed fee covers up to 3 Court appearances as follows:
- Preparation and representation for a 1 day trial at Southampton Magistrates Court (to include the initial half day Court appearance for the entering of a Not Guilty plea and the case management process).
- Up to two appointments in our office with you (for up to 2 hours in total)
- The taking of up to 3 witness statements, where such persons are able to attend one of our offices for this purpose.
- Consideration of the prosecution evidence and full trial preparation.
- Representing you at Court, cross examining prosecution witnesses, presenting the defence case and examining defence witnesses (including yourself where you provide evidence), and making all submissions required to the Court..
- Presenting mitigation prior to sentence, if necessary, even if listed on a later date.
- Advice on appeal, if appropriate.
Should you be successful at trial you may be entitled to recover some of your costs from central funds.