In generations past, many middle and upper class families would have a family solicitor, much like a family doctor, who would meet the needs of their clients as and when they were required.
A modern criminal solicitor is quite different and usually you will only seek out the assistance of a solicitor if a pressing need arises. Unfortunately this creates the issue of you having to seek out a trusted confidante in a time of extreme stress, about whom you may know nothing or very little. Attempts to address this have been met by the Law Society by maintaining an open register of licensed solicitors, which anybody can access. This allows you to quickly look up the credentials and some of the background of a potential solicitor whom you might be considering working with.
That said, in the case of criminal solicitors time is of the essence and if you find yourself in the unfortunate position of being arrested and charged perhaps with little or no notice, obtaining legal advice as early as possible is more important than which solicitor you have. Statements made in these early stages of investigation ripple through the case and will have a significant impact on how your defence and prosecution handle any potential court proceedings.
The goal of any solicitor will be to resolve the situation in your favour with as little inconvenience and cost as possible. Often, this will involve attempting to avoid court proceedings entirely. \
I’ve been arrested, what do I do?
Say and do nothing but comply with all police requirements and await legal representation. You have the right to legal representation before you make any initial statements to the police. If you have been formally charged, request your charge sheet which will explicitly state which offences you have been charged with and pass this information on to your solicitor. It will help them negotiate during these early critical hours. Law offices that offer police station assistance have 24-hour solicitors available just for this purpose, as during these first critical statements there may be the opportunity to deescalate the situation resulting in a police caution. In many cases, this would be the fastest and most convenient way to resolve any charges levied against you.
Serious criminal allegations
If the charges against you are severe and could potentially result in a prison sentence, it is wise to use a solicitor who has experience in that particular field of law. After any initial statements are made to the police, if prosecution is likely to continue there is no issue with switching solicitor from your initial 24-hour police assistance to one who has specialised in your area. There is a significant difference in defending somebody accused of murder than one accused of human trafficking or drug trading offences. The experience of your solicitor can have a significant impact on the outcome of the case.
The role of your solicitor
The role of a solicitor is multifaceted; they are legally bound to represent your interests regardless of the situation and will provide you with the best possible defence in any circumstance. They may be the only friend you have in the room and due to professional confidentiality, there is no reason to mislead or withhold information from your solicitor which may help your case.