Some words of wisdom from Chris Kalpage of Kalpage & Co Solicitors.
Info for all Riders
If you plan to go to court on a traffic or criminal matter, devour this...
I have been a lawyer for over 30 years and have discovered some obvious though sometimes neglected tips to assist in obtaining the best outcome:
Don’t leave the assessment of your case to the last minute. It may be human nature to put things in the “too hard basket” and to procrastinate, but you are doing yourself a disservice. There are times when I would get a call from a prospective client the evening before a court appearance, or on the day of the court appearance when the prospective client has turned their mind to their problem only to realize that it is far more complicated than they first envisaged.
Follows from (1) if you do consult with a lawyer make sure you do everything asked of you so they can be thoroughly prepared and the best case can be presented on your behalf. If you do not understand something get your lawyer to explain it to you. I have seen cases where a client has not understood something that has happened in court and then subsequently done something that has got them in deeper trouble.
Talk to your lawyer and confirm time and place of meeting before court and ensure that you are there early. The situation is stressful enough without running late due to some unforeseen circumstance that may have easily been avoided.
Ensure that you are well dressed wear the neatest attire you can afford . If you have a suit wear it or even a shirt with a collar. It is not that difficult. The number of times I have seen people in court with shorts and tee shirt or singlet is surprising. Going to court is like a job interview someone is going to be making a decision that will impact upon you and you should ensure that you are creating the best impression.
Don’t get into an argument with the Magistrate or the Prosecutor again try to concentrate on the relevant issues. That does not mean not putting ones case forcefully, but getting into an unnecessary argument with the prosecutor or police officers on a personal level may result in an adverse result if they have any discretion to exercise in your case. Often where there are multiple charges that discretion can be exercised in your favour in trying to get charges dropped and proceeding with lesser charges. Often the police officer in charge and the Prosecutor will be involved in this process. Getting into a personal argument with a Magistrate or Judge apart from potentially having serious consequences is just stupid. Whether you like it or not show respect for the institution it is the playing field that you are on and a little respect shown towards the institution and the Magistrate or Judge does not harm your case.