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Do I really need a solicitor?

Man in handcuffs appears before a wigged judge
I'm not sure what country this court is in but you get the idea

I am approached fairly regularly by people who have gone to court without a solicitor because they’re “just pleading guilty” and it’s a “simple case” only to find that they have been shafted by the court.

In the most recent example, I spoke to a man who has some very ancient convictions from the 1980s and a more recent drink driving conviction from 2005.  The sentencing guidelines indicate that somebody pleading not guilty should receive a driving disqualification of between 36 and 52 months.

Having looked at the prosecution evidence there are no aggravating features beyond the previous conviction, which the sentencing guidelines take into account anyway.  There is always something to be said in mitigation, whether it’s mitigation of the offence or personal mitigation.  Although, having seen a number of unrepresented defendant’s they rarely put their mitigation well.

If I had appeared at court I would have been advising this person to expect a disqualification of between 36-48 months plus unpaid work of around 200-hours, taking account of the fact he has no convictions for a decade and was pleading guilty.

The District Judge passing sentence decided to impose a 60-month driving ban without giving any reason why he was ignoring the guidelines.  He also failed to give the defendant any discount for his early guilty plea also without any explanation.

What’s the moral of the story?  Get a bloody solicitor!

Here’s a really great solicitor (well it’s worth a try).


  1. "The sentencing guidelines indicate that somebody pleading not guilty should receive a driving disqualification of between 36 and 52 months."

    Really? without trial?

  2. The court should have advised on right of appeal to crown court within 21 days. If offender had been before a bench of J.P.s it is unlikely that that advice would not have been given. I personally made such avenue known to most unrepresented offenders in such or similar circumstances.


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