This is the 3rd of this 6-part series on the criminal process. Here, we will look at what happens after an accused has been charged.
Engaging a lawyerIn almost every case, it would be beneficial to engage a lawyer to assist the accused with his/her case. Of course, there may be some cases that are so straightforward that engaging a lawyer will not make much of a difference. However, there are many lawyers who provide free first consultations for legal advice. You should take advantage of this and see a lawyer or two to get an indication of whether you should engage a lawyer for your case. The lawyer will evaluate the merits and downfalls of each case. The lawyer would then be able to advise the client on the various courses of action, ensuring that the client’s interests are looked after. Furthermore, the lawyer can assist the client in making representations to the Prosecution.
Making representations to the Prosecution/Attorney-General’s Chambers (AGC)Representations are written appeals to the Prosecution/AGC to persuade them to review the case and be more lenient in their approach. This is usually undertaken by the accused’s lawyer and allows the accused the opportunity to have negotiations and discussions with the prosecutor regarding his case. Representations will include reasons for the Prosecution/AGC to consider the accused’s matter more leniently. For example, it may contain information such as family background of the accused and circumstances in committing the offence. Representations may be written for a number of reasons. Before the accused pleads guilty, representations are generally written for these purposes:
- To request that the AGC withdraw the charge(s) against the Accused;
- To request that the AGC discharge the charge(s) against the Accused. This will either lead to a discharge not amounting to an acquittal (DNATA) or to discharge amounting to an acquittal (DATA);
- To request that the AGC reduce one or more of the charges against the Accused.