I cannot afford to hire a lawyer; can I get help with fees?

Yes- at MBS Solicitors we participate in the criminal legal aid scheme which means you might not have anything to pay towards our fees.  This will entirely depend on your financial circumstances and also the nature of the charges against you.

If I plead guilty at the first opportunity, will I get the same punishment as someone who goes to trial?

No, the courts are bound to give a discount for an early plea and this is actively encouraged.  Obviously we would liaise with the Procurator Fiscal about this on your behalf.

I have no prior criminal convictions. Will I get charged for a first-time offence?

We are not aware of the police or Procurator Fiscal (the prosecutor) having a policy of not charging people who have committed a first time offence although the court will give credit to first time offenders for not having either a like previous offence or a previous offence.

Can I pay my Court fine in instalments?

Yes.  You can assist you in applying to the Court.  The Court will assess your financial circumstances, but usually there is no difficulty with the fine being paid in instalments.

If I’m convicted at Court, will the press be able to publish my name and address?

Yes, the press are entitled to publish your particulars provided the information is not misleading or inaccurate.  However, MBS Solicitors are able to make an application to the Court under s.11 of Contempt of Court Act 1981 to withhold a name or other matter being disclosed to the public on cause shown.

If I have to appear at Court, will I have to go to prison automatically before my trial comes up?

If the Court is of the view that bail should not be granted in your case, you will remain imprisoned until your case is disposed off.  Although, if the application for bail is accepted by the Court, you will be released from custody on specific bail conditions.

If I get locked up in the Police cells on a Friday, can they keep me in the cells until the Monday morning?

Yes, but only if you have been charged with an offence.  You must ask the police to inform us immediately if this happens. The police can release you on a bail undertaking, however, this is entirely a discretionary matter.

I was charged with assault after trying to protect my friend who was being beaten by thugs; surely I can’t be convicted of assault?

Yes.  The police can charge you for assault.  You will require to lodge a defence of self-defence.

I was stopped by the police whilst driving my car and they searched my car for drugs.  Is this legal?

Yes. The police can carry out a search on your car if they have reasonable grounds to suspect that you were carrying drugs in your car.  If their belief is not justified, the search may be illegal and any evidence will be inadmissible.

If I am convicted of an offence, will I automatically be sent to prison?

Yes, in certain cases, but there are a number of different options open to the Court- we would advise you of these options and argue the case to achieve the best possible outcome for you.

If I am arrested for a crime, what are my rights with regard to answering questions etc?

The police can question you if they believe a crime has or is about to be committed, but this must, at the least, be based upon a reasonable belief.  You must provide your name, address and date of birth to the police.  You are not required to provide any further information beyond this if you wish to exercise your right to silence.

If I am detained (not to be confused with being arrested), can the police detain me for as long as they like?

No. Section 14 of the Criminal Procedure (Scotland) Act 1995 provides that the police can detain you for a maximum period of six hours.  After the six hours, the police must either release you without charge or formally arrest and charge you.

If I am detained for questioning by the police, can I have a lawyer present?

No, no such right exists at present.

I am sure the police never cautioned me, do they have to do this when they are asking me questions?

Generally speaking, the Police should caution you prior to you answering any questions, but it should be stressed that a lack of a caution is not necessarily fatal to their case.

My son has been charged with an offence and has to appear at a Children’s Panel- can they put him into prison?

The Children’s Panel, can, in certain circumstances, have a child detained in a secure place of accommodation for a specified period of time if it is considered to be in the public interest.

Can a Children’s Panel convict my child of offences he or she has been charged with?

In a Children’s Panel, the terminology is slightly different in that reference is made to “Grounds of Referral”- if these Grounds are accepted, then the child is deemed to have accepted the charge(s).  Usually, if the grounds of referral are not accepted, the matter can and often is referred to the Sheriff Court.  It is essential that you seek legal advice prior to the case calling in Court.

How much alcohol can I consume before I am over the limit?

Section 5(1)(a) of the Road Traffic Act 1988 provides that it is an offence for a person to drive or attempt to drive a motor vehicle in a public place after consuming so much alcohol that the proportion of it in his breath, blood or urine exceeds the prescribed limit.  Section 11(2) of the Act defines the prescribed limit as being 35 ug of alcohol in 100ml of breath, 80mg of alcohol in 100ml of blood or 107mg of alcohol in 100ml of urine. In Scotland, the police mostly use the Intoximeter EC/IR for the analysis of breath samples.  The readings relied upon by the police can be challenged on certain occasions.  However, this requires the instruction of an expert.

The police told me that upon conviction, I would automatically be banned from driving whilst under the influence of alcohol.  Is this true?

Yes, if you are over the permitted level.  The Court is bound to ban you from driving for a specified period of time.  It is essential that you seek proper legal advice to ascertain whether there are any exceptional mitigating circumstances applicable in your case.

I had been drinking and fell asleep at the steering wheel.  I was not driving the car.  The police charged me.  Can they do this?

Yes. You are deemed to be in control of a vehicle whilst being under the influence of alcohol.  You must seek legal representation to ascertain if you fall into any of the exceptions.  This type of offence can be complex in nature as it requires the accused person to prove his own defence and this is why you would require our legal expertise to advise and represent you in this area.

I work as a lorry driver, but I was stopped by the Police as apparently the lorry was not insured.  Can I be charged for driving without insurance as it is my employer’s vehicle

?
Yes.  You can be charged for driving without insurance.  Your employer can also be charged for permitting you to drive without insurance.  However, if you are acting in the course of your employment, there may be certain defences upon which you can rely.

I was charged by the Police for letting my friend drive my car, but I was sure my policy allowed “any driver” to drive my car- what do I do?

The wording of your policy would require to be scrutinised by us to advise you.

I was charged with using a mobile phone whilst driving and want to plead guilty, but I will lose my licence as I have 11 points on my licence already, is there any way I can get round the disqualification?

Yes.  In terms of the Road Traffic Offenders Act 1988, it is possible to argue Special Reasons, but only in certain circumstances.  We can advise you in more detail on this matter.

Would it be useful to delay the court hearing to avoid points being put onto my licence?

No.  The points will be endorsed on your licence and backdated to the date of the offence and not the date of the Court hearing.  The Court will take a dim view of any perceived attempt to delay a case in this manner.

My licence has been endorsed with three penalty points.  Will the points automatically come off after three years?

No.  You can apply to the DVLA after the three year period.  However, the points will stay on your licence for four years.  In terms of the totting up procedure, the points will be removed after three years.  You must seek legal representation in relation to this complicated matter.

I had a collision with a stationary car and drove off- should I have left a note, or phoned the police?

Yes.  In terms of Section 170 of the Road Traffic Act 1988, various duties are placed upon drivers.  If you are involved in an accident, you are legally required to stop and provide your name, address and details of your vehicle.  If you do not, you may be reported to the police for failing to provide this information.  Alternatively, you must report the accident to the police within 24 hours of the accident having taken place, or as soon as it is reasonably practicable to do so.

My husband was driving my car and he was caught speeding by a speed camera.  Do I have to tell the police who was driving?

Yes.  You are obliged to tell the police who was driving your car.  Section 172 (2) of the Road Traffic Act 1988 obliges the keeper of the vehicle to disclose to the police the details of the driver at the time the alleged offence.  There is a statutory obligation to disclose the details of the driver and you are unable to exercise your right of silence in this respect.

Can I tell the police that I was the driver of the vehicle instead of my husband?  My husband has 11 points on his licence.

No.  The consequences of this could be extremely serious and could amount to perverting the course of justice and wasting police time.  You could be imprisoned for misleading the police.

If I am convicted of drink driving, will I automatically have to re take my driving test?

Generally speaking, you should not have to, but this is a matter for the Court’s discretion.