LEGAL EAGLE: What you need to do if you receive a court summons
We’ve been asked what a person should do now they’ve received a court summons. Well, this can be a very stressful time for people and with the backlogs in the Criminal Justice System at the moment, a summons can come a long time after the incident even when you’ve thought it was done and forgotten.
The first thing you need to do is to check the date, time, and venue of your court appearance. You should get roughly 28 days notice of a hearing but it is not unknown for this to be much shorter either due to postal delays or delays issuing the paperwork.
Once you have this you need to make arrangements to attend. Even though you are not on ‘bail’ to attend Court if you fail to attend a warrant can still be issued for your arrest. This means police coming to your house and spending a night in the police station. Not something you want to be doing.
If you cannot attend for a legitimate reason such an illness or childcare contact your solicitor or the Court directly and inform them before the date of the hearing that it needs to be moved. It can often be possible to move a hearing from the morning to the afternoon or for it to be moved entirely as long as the Court has reasonable notice of your issues.
In certain cases, those which can only be dealt with in the Magistrates Court, it is even possible to ask a solicitor to attend on your behalf to either enter a guilty plea or to list the matter for trial. If you wish to do this ensure you have arranged it in advance with a solicitor and given your full instructions on the case.
If you did not have a solicitor in the police station or you want to change your solicitor you should seek new representation as soon as you have received your summons. This gives the solicitors plenty of time to sort out legal aid, take your instructions, and to meet with you before the hearing should it be necessary to do so.
If you did have a solicitor in the police station do not presume that they know about your court date. It is not unusual for the police to summons you but not to tell your solicitor. Get on the phone to them straight away.
If you have a court case upcoming and you need representation please do contact Ben Hoare Bell LLP on 0191 565 3112 or email [email protected] Visit our website for further information www.benhoarebell.co.uk