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Monthly Archives: February 2024

Many people ask the question ‘should you represent yourself in court?’  This is in many cases because they know they are not eligible for legal aid or perhaps think they are not eligible.  People make this decision often without checking the position with a solicitor.

A recent study by Dr Charlotte Walker of York St John University revealed the following:

“In this study, in Court A, in 80 out of 220 (36%) hearings, the defendant appeared unrepresented; and in Court B, this was the case in 25 out of 183 (14%) hearings.

The defendants appeared without legal representation in 105 out of 403 (26%) hearings in total, which represents a significant minority.

Based upon the observations and interviews, this was due to a range of reasons including financial factors; defendants not wanting to delay proceedings; and defendants not seeing the value of having a lawyer.”

We accept that not everyone necessarily needs to be represented in court.  However, if legal aid is available then this is an entitlement.  It makes sense to ensure that all angles are covered.

It is perhaps ironic that some of the seemingly more basic cases, such as road traffic prosecutions, often throw up the trickiest legal issues.

According to Dr Walker, numerous studies have found that unrepresented defendants tend to struggle to represent themselves in court (Dell [1971], McBarnet [1981], Shapland [1981], Transform Justice [2016], Walker [2021]).

Can I afford legal representation?

If you are eligible for legal aid in the magistrates’ court, there is no cost to you. In the crown court, a contribution may be payable depending on your income. We can tell you in advance what the rules are in this regard.

You can read more about the legal aid schemes here.

Where legal aid is not available, many people are surprised at just how affordable “private representation” is. Many people have the idea that solicitors charge many hundreds of pounds per hour, and whilst a few do in corporate and commercial work, the pricing in criminal law is much more competitive and fixed fees are commonly offered for many cases.

You can read more about some of our fixed fees here.

There is no one answer to funding your criminal case, but you should always contact us for free to find out your funding options in detail. You have nothing to lose by doing so.

Contact an expert criminal defence lawyer

Before you have to ask the question ‘should you represent yourself in court’ contact one of our criminal defence solicitors at your nearest office.

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Alternatively use the contact form below:


Monthly Archives: February 2024

On Friday 23 February 2024 partner Denney Lau had the honour and privilege of hosting the 147th President’s Annual Dinner for the Sheffield and District Law Society.  Denney has been president for the last year.

In an inspirational speech before the attendees, Denney acknowledged his progress from a humble background where he was the first in his family to attend University.

Upon arrival in the United Kingdom as an immigrant, he was unable to speak the language and was, in effect, ‘without a voice’.  He became a solicitor to provide others with a voice and ensure their right to be heard.  Having embarked on that course, however,  he never imagined he would be the holder of such a prestigious position.

Denney extended his thanks to all of his fellow lawyers for continuing to provide people with that voice, and attending the dinner to make it such a special occasion.

As well as presenting an opportunity for local lawyers to get together, awards were given to those locally who have excelled in their respective specialisms.


Monthly Archives: February 2024

This week Nicholas Hawkes become the first person to be convicted for the new offence of “Cyber-Flashing”. Hawkes sent unsolicited photos of his erect penis to a 15-year-old girl and a woman.

The woman took screenshots of the image on WhatsApp and reported Hawkes to Essex Police the same day.


Sefer Mani, of the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) in the East of England, said:

“Cyber-flashing is a grotesque crime and the fact we were able to deliver swift justice for the two victims shows the new law is working.

Everyone should feel safe wherever they are and not be subjected to receiving unwanted sexual images.

I urge anyone who feels they have been a victim of cyber-flashing to report it to the police and know that they will be taken seriously and have their identities protected.”

This offence came in to force on 31 January 2024 and was created by the Online Security Act 2023. The Act inserts a new provision into the Sexual Offences Act 2003 (s 66A, an offence known formally as ‘Sending etc photograph or film of genitals’).

How is cyber-flashing committed?

A person (A) who intentionally sends or gives a photograph or film of any person’s genitals to another person (B) commits an offence if:

a) A intends that B will see the genitals and be caused alarm, distress or humiliation, or

(b) A sends or gives such a photograph or film for the purpose of obtaining sexual gratification and is reckless as to whether B will be caused alarm, distress or humiliation.

References to sending or giving such a photograph or film to another person include, in particular:

(a) sending it to another person by any means, electronically or otherwise,

(b) showing it to another person, and

(c) placing it for a particular person to find.

What is the sentence for this offence?

Cyber-flashing carries a maximum penalty of up to 2 years imprisonment. A conviction also means that the notification requirements under the SOA 2003 also apply, depending on sentence length (commonly referred to as the Sex Offender Register).

This offence is one of a number enacted by the Online Safety Act 2023.

Seek advice from an expert criminal lawyer

Seeking legal advice at the earliest opportunity will allow us to provide advice to you about the law and the evidence in either a police investigation or a prosecution.

If you are arrested or know that the police wish to speak to you about any criminal allegation make sure you insist on your right to free and independent legal advice.  We will be present in your interview to advise through the investigation stage.

The advantages of such early advice legal advice can be found here.


If you have already been interviewed or face court proceedings we can still make a real difference to the outcome of your case.

Legal aid may well be available to fund your defence at court.


We have offices across the East Midlands and will happily travel across the country to provide representation for all types of offences.

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Alternatively you can use the contact form below.


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