• Top 1% of Defence Law Firms

  • Defended over 50,000 Cases

  • 5 star google reviews

  • 40 Years of Criminal Law Expertise

Criminal Law – Frequently asked questions


Your Common Questions About Criminal Defence Answered

Frequently asked legal questions | Criminal Defence Solicitors

Financial Compensation 

  • If I'm found innocent/not guilty, will the prosecution reimburse me for any losses?

    If you’re not guilty, you are entitled to some of your money back. However, it’s not an automated process; you have to make an application to get some of these funds returned. This can be done by applying for a defence costs order; this means that your refund is paid out of central funds. However, you’ll only be paid according to the legal aid rates, so if you worked with a private defence lawyer, you will not get the full amount reimbursed.

  • Will I get money from the court if I’m not guilty?

    If you’re not guilty, you are entitled to some of your money back. However, it’s not an automated process; you have to make an application to get some of these funds returned. This can be done by applying for a defence costs order; this means that your refund is paid out of central funds. However, you’ll only be paid according to the legal aid rates, so if you worked with a private defence lawyer, you will not get the full amount reimbursed.

  • If I'm convicted, do I have to pay the prosecution?

    You do not have to pay the prosecution as they are funded by the government, but you may be liable to pay court costs if you’re found guilty.


  • No I need to pay for you to represent me at the police station?

    No. You are entitled to free legal advice at the police station, regardless of your assets or source of income. Our duty solicitors are available 24/7, and are just a phone call away. Should you ever find yourself at the station being interviewed, please do not hesitate to contact us and we will represent you, regardless of the time of day or nightd.

  • Does Stuart Miller Solicitors work with Legal Aid?

    Yes, our firm often works with Legal Aid, and our solicitors are all qualified to work with legal aid. If you do not have financial support our lawyers will apply for legal aid on your behalf. The application will ask for your and your partner’s – if you have one – financial information. If you are on schemes like universal credit, a pension ion scheme,  a jobseeker’s allowance, or if you make less than £12,000 per annum, you’ll be granted legal aid. If you’re below 18, you’ll automatically be granted legal aid as well. 

  • How do I switch solicitors if I’m on legal aid?

    If you’re on legal aid, changing solicitors is much harder – this is because the legal aid budget is tight, so you must explain why you want to change lawyers. You will need to fill in an ‘Application to Transfer’; the form will ask for personal information, details of your old and (potential) new solicitors, and why you want to make the change. Your old and new solicitors will have to fill in parts of the form as well, so you’ll need to coordinate between them. Once you submit the form to the court, it is up to the court to decide whether you get to change lawyers. This is because they’ll look at the costs incurred while changing, and have to decide whether the change is worth spending from the legal aid budget. 
    For a more comprehensive answer, check out an article we wrote on this topic: 

  • How is my case funded?

    How your case is funded depends on your finances. If you don’t qualify for legal aid, then the funds will come out of your own pocket. Paying for a solicitor also means you’ll have more lawyers to choose from – not every solicitor is qualified to work with legal aid. If you’re below 18, you automatically qualify for legal aid. If you make less than £12,500 per annum, you qualify as well. If you’re on a scheme like universal credit, income support, jobseeker’s allowance, or a pension guarantee credit, you will qualify. 
    Legal aid at the police station is available to all, regardless of your source of income or your assets. At the magistrate’s court, however, you will only qualify for legal aid if you make less than £12,500 or you are on benefits. At the Crown Court, that minimum limit is increased to £37,500 – if you earn below this amount and your case is sent to the Crown Court, you will be eligible for legal aid. If not, you will have to pay for your legal fees out of pocket.  
    Your solicitor will make a legal aid application on your behalf, and you’ll have to submit your income statements and financial information – if you have a partner, you’ll have to submit their financial information, too.

  • How do I pay my legal fees later?

    Depending on your financial status, you could apply for legal aid – this is something your solicitor can do on your behalf. However, legal aid is reserved for those who are unable to afford a lawyer, or are too young, so it’s meant for people on low incomes, or those below 18. f you can afford a lawyer but can’t afford to make a large payment by the end (if you have a steady flow of income but can’t afford to pay a large amount all at once, for example), don’t worry. You can discuss setting up payment plans with your solicitor. Be sure to mention this to your solicitor during the initial meetings; your lawyer should have a decent estimate as to how much your case would cost. They would include things like hours billed and any extra fees or disbursements that may arise (like hiring expert witnesses)d.

  • Will I get my bail money back if I bail someone out?

    If you paid a surety, you should get the money back after the first court appearance. If you were asked to pay a security deposit, however, you will not see the deposit until the full trial is over.- and if you miss a court date, you lose the deposit.


  • The police want me to come in for a voluntary interview, what does that mean?

    The police think you’re involved in one of their investigations or they’ve received a complaint about you, and want you to come in and answer a few questions. They might come to your house or send you a request through the post. 
    You’re not legally required to attend a voluntary interview, but it’s risky not to. If you don’t attend, the police have the right to arrest you for questioning later, especially if they think you’re involved in their investigation. It’s always better to attend the interview, if you’ve been asked to.  
    The police will caution you in the beginning, by telling you that you can remain silent during the interview, but it might hurt your defence, especially if you’re required to go to Court later. This interview will also be used as evidence, so be careful in what you say during this time.  
    Though you’re not required to have a lawyer present, it’s always better to have some legal advice, and you are entitled to free legal advice during an interview. If you don’t take the offer of legal counsel, the police aren’t obliged to give you any details about the allegation before your interview. This means that if your interview plays into their investigation (which it could, because they haven’t told you anything), you might unknowingly implicate yourself, which could lead to more courtroom appearances in the future

  • Do I need a lawyer if I’m innocent?

    Yes, it is always recommended that you work with a lawyer, even if you are innocent. Your lawyer is there to help represent you, defend your rights, and ensure you have a fair trial. The law is complex, and courtroom procedures are very complicated. Something as benign as missing paperwork could result in you being falsely convicted, and going to jail. Your lawyer is there to ensure that all legal procedures are followed, that the prosecution has sent in their evidence against you, and that you are able to follow along with your case, without getting overwhelmed by legal proceedings.

  • Can the police stop and search me on the streets?

    Technically, yes, the police can stop and search you without suspicion. However, they have to follow the right procedure to do so, and the search must be approved by a senior police officer. This could happen if they think serious violence could take place, you’ve been seen carrying a weapon, or you’re in a specific location that’s deemed risky.
    Before they search you, a police officer must tell you:

    1. their name 
    2. Their police station 
    3. what they think they’ll find 
    4.  why they want to search you 
    5. Why they’re legally allowed to search you 
    6. And that you’ll get a record of the search as proof – if it isn’t possible at the time, you’ll be able to receive a copy later 

    If the police don’t do this, the search is unlawful. You have the right to ask them why they’re not following proper procedure, and avoid being searched, and exercise your right to privacy.

  • The police seized my phone, when will I get it back?

    There’s no time limit or deadline as to when the police should give your phone back to you. They have the power to seize anything that can be seen as evidence – including mobile phones, vehicles, even cash.  
    With your mobile phone, the police have extensive powers to search it for any evidence related to the offence. They have the technology to access your phone without needing your password. Even if your phone is smashed, dripping wet, or structurally damaged, the police can still recover your data.  
    Any information that’s been extracted from your phone can be used as evidence in the courtroom.  
    If you’ve been arrested, the police have the legal right to seize your phone. But, if you’ve been stopped and searched on the street, they don’t have the right to look through your phone, unless they suspect you of a serious offence, like terrorism or child sex offences, and the police should have the paperwork to prove it.  
    To know more about what the police can retrieve from your phone, check out our blogpost here:  

  • I’ve been released under investigation – is that different from bail?

    Being released under investigation essentially means that the police have let you go while they continue to conduct their investigation. If you are relevant to the case, or if they find evidence against you, they’ll charge you for it, and will send you a letter with the details. If you’re innocent, they’ll let you know too.
    It is different from bail, in a few key ways. Firstly, released under investigation has no external conditions – you don’t have to fulfil any orders, and you can continue going about your life. Secondly, there’s no time limit, which means that an investigation could take years, and there’s no way to confirm when you’ll know whether you’ve been charged or let go.
    Arguably, this is very stressful. It can be difficult to make plans, like move houses or go on a holiday, in case you miss the letter from the police. With no clear timeline or update, this could hang over your head, with no end in sight. Though this was introduced as a way to ease the burdens over the police force, it’s resulted in everyone else being stuck in limbo – from potential defendants to the victims.
    For a more comprehensive answer, check out our blogpost here:

  • Do I need a lawyer if I’m just going to plead guilty?

    Yes, it is highly recommended that you consult with a lawyer, even if you are going to plead guilty. This is because pleading guilty isn’t as straightforward as standing up in court, announcing your guilt to the judge, and sitting back down.  
    A lawyer will help you understand everything about the case the prosecution has made – including the evidence they have, what they might argue in court, and how strong their case is. Your lawyer will also tell you if it’s a good idea to enter a guilty plea , like getting you a reduced sentence. Your lawyer is there to ensure you understand the charges and the consequences of pleading guilty, so you can make a free, informed decision. Your lawyer will also tell you of other consequences that you might not have considered. For example, because this will be on your record, it might be more difficult to get a job later on, as most employers will run background checks 
    This way, having legal advice ensures that you know all of the consequences of your decision, whether it’s a good idea to plead guilty, and how secure the prosecution’s case against you really is

  • What is a voluntary interview?

    A voluntary interview, also known as “caution plus three” interview is done at the police station, without the need for an arrest. Be warned, this interview will still be used as evidence against you, which is why it’s advised to seek legal advice before attending the interview. Though you have no legal requirement to attend a voluntary interview, it is not advised to miss it. The police have the right to arrest you for further questioning if they believe you have crucial information or are a suspect in the case.

  • Is “no comment” during an interview a sign of guilts?

    No, it is not an admission of guilt. Nor is it a proclamation of innocence. Saying “no comment” simply means you’re exercising your right to stay silent. If you want, you can just stay quiet during the interview, but it will make the interview move slowly. Saying ‘no comment’ can give you time to think about your answers, rather than say the wrong thing at a police station. Answering ‘no comment’ also means that the interview won’t be used as evidence, if it does go to trial. If you’re looking for a more detailed answer, check out an article we’ve written on the topic below: 

  • Will my lawyer reveal anything to the police?

    Absolutely not, your lawyer will not reveal anything you say to anyone – they are legally and morally bound to keep your information confidential. However, your lawyer also has ethical obligations to the court, including not misleading the court. This means that the lawyer has to fight for you – if you say you’re not guilty, your lawyer will fight for you with that belief in mind. But, if you tell your lawyer that you are guilty, but want to plead not guilty anyway, then they have an ethical obligation to excuse themselves from the courtroom. This is because they can’t lie for you in the courtroom, as it would be misleading the court.
    If they excuse themselves, they won’t tell the courtroom why, but they will step aside and allow another solicitor to represent you.
    Ultimately, it is the best thing to tell your lawyer everything, because they can advise you on what the best step is. If you are guilty, they’ll fight to ensure you get the least punishment possible. If you’re not guilty, they’ll ensure that you walk away, with your reputation intact. If it’s a complicated case, they’ll do their best to ensure that you face a fair trial.

  • If someone pressed charges against me, but change their mind later, will the case get dropped?

    It depends on how much evidence the police has gathered for your case, and how far they’re willing to go to press charges. If the case depends only the complainant’s testimony and they change their mind, the prosecution has no choice but to drop the case. But, if there is more evidence, then the prosecution can continue to press charges, even if the complainant withdraws their testimony.


  • I’ve been arrested but I am not an adult – is the law different for me?

    Though the law might not change per se, the sentences will. For example, the sentence for an offence like robbery, or theft, are milder compared to the sentence an adult might receive. For those under 16, all trials will be held in the Youth Court, and your defence lawyer will be trained in working with younger clients. This is because procedures, the way witnesses are interviewed, and your defence all change in the Youth Court.
    The punishments can range from fines (which your parent or guardian will have to pay), to referral or youth rehabilitation orders. A referral order involves you meeting a youth offender panel and agreeing to specific commitments, from anywhere between 3 months and a year.
    A youth rehabilitation order is like a community sentence. You’ll be required to follow specific conditions – like a curfew, or community service – and can last for up to 3 years.
    You can get a custodial sentence (I.e. go to prison) but these are very rare, and they’re not like adult prisons. For young people, it’s often at secure homes, or youth offender institutions – the focus is on rehabilitation. You could also be given a detention and training order – where you spend half the time in detention, and the other half at training, for rehabilitation. This order can last from 2 months to 2 years.

  • Do you represent under-16s?

    Yes, we do represent people below the age of 18. Our solicitors are uniquely qualified in matters of youth justice and the Youth Court, and are prepared to do their best to ensure your future isn’t compromised.

  • What should I expect at youth court?

    Youth Court is generally more relaxed; the court is designed to make it easier for children and teenagers to understand what’s going on. There is no jury, and the courtroom is not open to the public. There will either be 3 magistrates or a district judge, and everyone goes by their first name to make it more comfortable for the young defendants.  
    If you are below 16, your parent or guardian must accompany you. 16- and 17-year-olds can choose to have a parent or guardian accompany them, but it isn’t obligatory.  
    At the first appearance the court will ask the child if they are guilty or not guilty, if the child is charged with a grave crime the court will decide which court will hear the case. More serious cases may be sent to the Crown Court. The majority of cases will stay in the youth court. The maximum sentence in the youth court is a two year Detention and Training Order (DTO)


  • How do you file an appeal in the crown court?

    To appeal a decision made in the Magistrate’s Court, you must file an appeal in the Crown Court. The process is relatively straightforward, but must be done within 15 working days of the date you were sentenced. To do so, you must download and fill in the Appeal to the Crown Court form, and send the form by post or e-mail. The Crown Court will hold a hearing, where you can argue for your appeal, and a prosecutor will make a case against you. You will then get a letter, within 80 days, from the Crown Court with a date for your hearing. During the hearing, you’ll be able to make your case, and the judge might ask you more questions, to learn more about the case. At the hearing, you’ll be told if you won your case, or not. The judge’s decision will also be mailed to you by post. 
    Before you make an appeal, it is highly recommended that you consult with a solicitor first, and get some legal advice. A solicitor will be able to help you with the appeal process, and advise on whether an appeal is helpful or not

  • What is a plea bargain?

    A plea bargain is when the defendant agrees that they have committed the offence, and wishes to plead guilty in the courtroom. Sometimes, it might be better to submit a guilty plea – the earlier you submit a guilty plea, the lesser your potential sentence is. Furthermore, it might be easier to plead guilty to a lesser offence, than go to court for a more serious offence and risk a harsher sentence. For example, the maximum sentence for causing grievous bodily harm with intent is life imprisonment, but the maximum sentence for inflicting grievous bodily harm is 5 years in prison. By pleading guilty to an offence with a lesser sentence, the defendant can get a lighter sentence. 
    However, a guilty plea isn’t as easy as saying, “I’m guilty, Your Honour” and receiving a sentence. A plea bargain is a negotiation between the defence and the prosecutor, because the prosecutor could reject the defendant’s plea bargain, and continue to go to court. The prosecutor is also required to consult with the victim or their families, and inform them of the plea bargain, and take their decision into consideration.

  • How do I represent myself in the magistrate’s court?

    If you’re facing a fairly minor offence, it is possible to represent yourself in the magistrate’s court. However, we always recommend that you consult with a lawyer anyway; a lawyer knows the ins and outs of the law, any updates to the law, and the procedures that your case would require. 
    If you are looking for self-representation – maybe you don’t qualify for legal aid but don’t want to pay for a lawyer or are confident in your ability to handle it yourself – then here’s a quick guide to what you need to do, at the magistrate’s court. 
    The first thing to know is where your offence falls; if it’s summary-only, indictable-only, or either-way. Summary-only offences are minor, and include offences like some public disorder offences, motoring offences, and minor assault. The maximum punishment the magistrate’s court can pass is 6 months’ imprisonment, but this is very rare. 
    ndictable-only offences are more serious and always result in prison time. You will need a lawyer, if your offence is indictable-only. Some examples are murder, robbery, or rape. Your case will then be sent to the Crown Court, as the Crown Court deals with serious criminal cases. 
    Either-way offences could go either way; offences like drunk driving, drug offences, thefts, and burglaries could be argued either way. The maximum imprisonment the Magistrate’s Court can give for these types of offences is 12 months. 
    For your first court appearance, the court might expect some progress – which usually means entering a plea, especially if it’s for a summary-only offence. Make sure you understand your charge clearly, and note down why you’re submitting your plea – if you’re not guilty, keep your evidence close at hand. 
    Before you go to court, make sure you do your due research – this means making sure you know ALL of your charges, whether your charges are summary only, either way, or indictable, and what potential sentences could be. Government websites like the cps website, and the sentencing council are very useful and will have all the information you require. Make sure you study these websites, and note down all the information that’s relevant to your case. 
    When you first go to court, make sure you stay polite and calm. Greet the usher, and ask for any papers that you should have – the usher should manage this for you. Make sure you greet the prosecutor as well, stay cordial, and mention that you’re doing this on your own. Though they are going against your case, they won’t hesitate to help you out. 
    If your case is minor, the magistrates will want you to submit a plea during the first hearing. If it’s not guilty, the case will continue to trial. If the case is guilty, they’ll go straight to the sentence. 
    Frankly, if you’re entering a not-guilty plea, or if your offence is either-way and could go to the Crown Court, we highly recommend contacting a solicitor


  • What should I bring to the first consultations?

    To your first consultation, it’s important to try and bring as much key evidence as possible – for example, if you have any videos of the arrest, any messages saved on your phone, or any other evidence. It is useful to try and write down important points, or a timeline of events. This will help you remember key details and will be useful for your solicitor to refer to during the first consultation.  
    Remember to keep an open mind and be as honest as possible with your solicitor; omit no key details. It can take one detail to unravel your entire case. It might be uncomfortable to discuss, but it’s important to have the facts on the table

  • Who will be dealing with my matte?

    Our law firm is staffed with qualified specialists who are well-trained and well-experienced in a variety of offences. Based on the nature of the case and the severity of the offence, you may.

  • How much will it cost me?

    As each client’s financial situation and case is unique, we cannot provide exact amounts on how much this will cost you. However, we do have a breakdown of our fees listed below. Our solicitors do work with Legal Aid, which means you do not have to worry about legal fees if you cannot afford it


  • Do you offer a free initial consultation?

    Yes, we do offer free initial no-obligation consultations – we are happy to provide you with some advice, assuage your fears and provide some guidance on what your potential next steps could be.

  • Emergency?

    Call 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.