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Being charged with any criminal offence is no small matter. From the anxiety and stress that comes from not knowing what your future holds, to wondering what others around you will think (co-workers, family members, etc.), there is no easy way to deal with a criminal charge. When the offence in questions is rape, these factors can become even more exacerbated, given the severe and sexual nature of the crime. In this article, we will provide some peace of mind by laying out some guidelines on how to find the best rape lawyers in the UK to help you get the best representation available.
When it comes to sensitive crimes such as rape and/or sexual assault, there can be quite a bit of confusion surrounding what exactly each crime entails. Rape, as defined by the Sexual Offences Act 2003, is when, ‘he intentionally penetrates the vagina, anus, or mouth of another person… with his penis.’
It is crucial to note that this definition includes two criteria concerning consent. One, the victim must not have consented to the sexual act. Two, the perpetrator must also not reasonably believe that the victim did indeed consent to the sexual act referred to. While this definition may be a bit abstract, here are some concrete examples:
One important detail to make note of is that only a male (legally) can be charged with rape, given that the definition includes the term penis. However, a female can still be charged with other sexual offences, such as sexual assault and assault by penetration.
Depending on various factors surrounding the case, the typical sentencing period for a convicted rapist is anywhere in the vicinity of 4-19 years’ custody, up to a maximum of life in prison. With such high stakes, having a rape charge against you is something you don’t want anyone but the best rape lawyers in the country dealing with. Before looking at how to find these lawyers, it’s worth taking some time to lay out some key characteristics you should look for.
First and foremost, given the severity of the criminal charge of rape – from both a legal and emotional point of view – you will want a lawyer that is willing to listen. They need to be able to hear out your entire story with objectivity and sincerity in order to best weigh the pros and cons of your case. Anything less is less than what you deserve.
Moreover, the best rape lawyers in the UK will be ones that have ample trial experience and are able to navigate critical questioning periods and cross-examinations with witnesses that will very likely be highly emotional and volatile. Having a rape lawyer that has spent many hours in stressful courtroom situations will bring a deep sense of calm to you and to your legal case as a whole.
Furthermore, it is also important to have a lawyer that specialises in rape cases specifically. Given the highly intimate, graphic, and sensitive nature of these charges, making sure that you have a lawyer on your side that won’t shy away from asking the hard questions, or from examining difficult pieces of evidence, will be crucial in making sure the entire story is properly brought before a judge.
Finally, because rape cases generally occur in private situations with limited corroborating evidence, it will be crucial to find a lawyer that has deep intuitions and background knowledge when it comes to interpreting a sparse number of facts regarding the matter in questions. Having a successful rape lawyer means having a lawyer that knows that the devil is in the details (even if there aren’t many details to begin with).
Given the highly sensitive nature of rape charges, you might be concerned about exactly how to find a rape lawyer. It’s not like you freely want to ask for referrals, after all. Nonetheless, there are some subtle options available to find the most qualified rape lawyers in the UK.
Check the Law Society website/directory
Arguably the best place to look for a rape lawyer online is the web page for the Law Society. This site will allow you to search for a barrister or solicitor who meets specific criteria you set out, such as their area of specialisation, the location of their practice, their current accreditations, and other vital characteristics, so you can be sure you are getting the right person for the job.
A quick internet search
You may well have thought of starting with this, and it certainly does yield quick results. Make sure you look for the right terms and keywords, such as: “experienced rape lawyers in my area,” “rape solicitors near me,” “specialist rape law firms,” and other important terms in order to narrow down your search queries. Because of the highly sensitive nature of these searches, we recommend turning on private browsing settings to reduce the chance of discovery in these early days, as well as not using public devices when scouring the Internet.
Review industry rankings
Admittedly this may take a bit more digging than the other methods we mentioned but using the internet or looking at industry publications for ranking tables is one of the best ways you can find the most prepared and trusted lawyers to handle your rape charges. A prime example of an industry ranking directory is the platform, Legal 500, which is one of the world’s prominent legal directories. On this platform you can search for individual lawyers, firms, and private practices, in order to make sure you get the legal advice you need, along with the expertise you deserve.
Review magazines and articles
Another great way to find a trusted rape lawyer in your area is by reading up on the latest legal news and other articles for cases that pertain to your charges. Oftentimes the lawyers that are writing about such matters will have the experience, education, and expertise to back up their findings (or at the very least, their firm will), which gives you further insight into how that firm or individual would be able to handle your case. As an added bonus, by reading these articles you will also become more informed about your case, and thus be able to present it in a more coherent manner to your defence counsel, which will make things go even more smoothly.
Generally, the hourly rate for a criminal defence attorney in the UK ranges from £120-400+ per hour, depending on their level of experience and expertise. There are, however, many cost arrangements to be aware of that are distinct from the conventional hourly charging structure.
Fixed fee structure
In this kind of arrangement, your attorney will estimate the fees necessary to resolve the matter on your behalf and charge you a flat rate. It’s vital to keep in mind that these charges often do not include VAT or disbursements, which will be additional. There might be some other presumptions as well, such as ensuring that the case maintains a specific level of complexity. In some cases if these assumptions are overruled (if the case in question becomes much more complex than originally thought, for example), then the fee structure given at the outset will likely change as well.
A retainer, often known as an upfront payment, may also be a fee structure offered by the lawyer in your case. This payment can range from a fee covering the first few hours to a significant sum of money covering a month or more, depending on the situation at hand and the lawyer you are working with.
At Stuart Miller Solicitors, we have a team of rape case specialists that are attentive, non-judgmental, and willing to help you get the justice you deserve. If you are tired of feeling hopeless and ashamed because of the charges brought against you, we can help. Get in touch for a free consultation with us, and let’s get your life back on track.
A legal expert will consult you within 24 hours of making an enquiry.
We will always treat you with trust, understanding and respect.
Your case will be handled by an expert who specialises in your type of offence.
We will take early action to end proceedings as soon as it is practically and legally possible to do so.
You will be kept updated on your case at all times. We will provide a named contact available to answer your questions.
We understand this is a difficult and stressful time for you and your family. Our team will support you every step of the way.
We will never give up on your case. We fight tirelessly to get you the best possible outcome.