So you’ve pled Not Guilty…

June 2001

Now what?

The court should write and give you your trial date. If you were there in person they will not write to you but will just expect you to turn up so make sure you have the date somewhere safe.

If you want a solicitor to defend you and you are eligible for legal aid the application to the legal aid board must be made within 14 days of the plea (although you can apply later in certain circumstances). If you contact a solicitor they will make the application for you.

There are good reasons for and against being defended by a solicitor.Reasons to have a solicitor

If you are unfamiliar with the court procedure and are worried about when is the right time to say what they will do it for you. You can still give evidence from the witness box and a good solicitor will give you the opportunity to explain your motives.

If you are charged with something you didn’t do e.g. violently resisting arrest you might need the help of a solicitor to get the evidence before the court .Reasons to represent yourself

You have a lot more freedom to say things than lawyers do (they can be reported to the Law Society if they go beyond laid down restrictions).

You can run whatever type of defence you like. You can research lots of good legal arguments or you can just talk common sense or you can even recite a poem.

If you don’t qualify for legal aid it’s cheaper.

If you decide to have a solicitor you need to contact them as soon as possible after you have put in a plea. You can contact them earlier if you like and they can go to court and plead for you.

We have been through quite a number of solicitors since we began the campaign… and without risking being sued all I will say is there have been problems!

The solicitor we are currently using (who IS very helpful and DOES reply to messages) is Clare Ryan, 2 Douglas Gardens, Bearsden, GLASGOW G61 2SJ. Tel: 07977 000 312

Even if you are represented by a solicitor you need to think about what you want to say when you get the opportunity.

If you decide to represent yourself think about the kind of things you want to bring out. You can look at the Trident Ploughshares website for examples of defences used so far. There are also lots of legal documents there that may help you. Don’t get overwhelmed by it all. You can keep it as simple as you like. Please feel free to send me any questions you have. I have lots of legal documents here and know where to get others and can copy and send them to you.

Read the briefing on Representing Yourself and What happens in Court.

Talk to other people you know who have been in court.

Support. We try to get local supporters to the courts in Scotland, but it is always good to bring your own group to show the Magistrates that we are part of a growing movement.