A sexual offence solicitor exists simply as a guide and proxy of a lay person when having to deal with legal matters; this is not a slight, but a matter of great seriousness and sincerity. It would be unwise to plan a hike in the Himalayas without a Sherpa guide and it would be unwise to try to navigate English law without a fully licensed member of the Law Society, whether they be a solicitor or barrister.
Which expert is more appropriate heavily depends on your case and what you’re faced with. There are many possible charges, but one of the most distressing is a sexual offence charge. This may be a current charge or may be considered a historical sexual offence, either way, the ramifications on the accused, even if this charge is not seen in court or they are fully acquitted, can be dramatic.
In many sexual offence cases (particularly historic ones) there is an absence of evidence, as it may have been purported to have occurred before forensic evidence could have been collected or was in common use during police investigations. This leaves both the defence and the prosecution having to rely on statements; many of these statements may have been about events that occurred a great deal of time ago and are therefore subject to the biases and misremembering of all witness statements. With a case that will be built on credibility and statements met with counter statements, your initial interactions with the police, your first statement given before you were even charged will be highly relevant. Legal advice needs to be sought as soon as possible and it is not recommended that you attend any police interview formally after charging or informally before charging, without the attendance of a solicitor.
Seeking a new solicitor
If you have had any previous experience working with solicitors or you receive personal recommendations from a close friend or family member who has used a solicitor, it is wise to follow those recommendations, but this is not always the case. It may need many people having to search for a suitable solicitor, usually starting with a humble Google search, in order to ensure clarity and make sure only authorised individuals practise law in the UK. The Law Society operates an open register that can be queried via their website and allows you to see the credentials and various licences of a solicitor that you may be considering hiring.
Even if a solicitor is appropriately qualified, this does not make all solicitors equal and due to the complexity of the law, specialisation is common. A solicitor specialised in property law would be inappropriate to represent you in court on a criminal charge and vice versa.
It may be wise to consider what ancillary services you may require, and not only during the investigation and any potential trial that follows. During the investigation stage, some form of management of media image would be required to interact with the public and to ensure that none of the information that could jeopardize your case is released. It is best to negotiate all of these services upfront in order to agree on an inclusive package and to cost properly.