A criminal barrister is a legal professional with specialist training in the justice and court system. Criminal barristers are usually called in to work with clients who are going through the justice system and are facing complex or more serious legal matters. Criminal barristers in Sydney usually work from a number of different courts in the area, depending where their clients are, and they have separate offices known as chambers.
What is the difference between a barrister and a solicitor?
Barristers and solicitors have the same university-level legal training. Once students finish their degree, they then decide whether to become a barrister or a solicitor. Barristers undergo further legal training and sit exams that give them the specialisation and qualifications to work independently and advise clients in greater depth. Solicitors usually work for law firms, and can undertake more general legal work or specialise in a particular area.
When would I need a criminal barrister?
Generally, if you are facing less serious charges, a solicitor will be able to represent you in court. But if your solicitor feels that the services of a barrister are required, they will refer you to the appropriate person. Some examples of situations that might require the services of a barrister include difficult legal cases or severe charges, such as murder, which come with serious penalties. If you are facing a matter that is to be dealt with in the district or supreme court, you will often be referred to a barrister to represent you.
Barristers have specific areas of specialisation, much like solicitors do, so whether or not you will be referred to a barrister may depend on whether there is anyone available who specialises in the particular area of law that you are facing, and how familiar your solicitor is with the legal issues surrounding your case. Barristers are highly trained in advocacy work, and can also work as mediators and conciliators in certain situations.
What will a barrister do for me?
A criminal barrister can provide high-level legal advice and assistance as well as directly represent you in court. When you are facing a legal matter your first point of contact will generally be your solicitor, who will then prepare a brief for the barrister and discuss your case with them directly. Your barrister can advise you, and your solicitor, how to proceed with the case, what evidence is going to be best to help you defend yourself, and what your likely penalty will be.
If you have to go to court, your barrister will speak in court and present your case on your behalf. They will also question any witnesses for the defence or the prosecution and work to get you the most positive outcome. Although it is possible to represent yourself in court, an experienced criminal barrister in Sydney will have a good working knowledge of the local legal system and will be familiar with the personalities of the judges and magistrates in the area.
If you need the services of a barrister, your solicitor will advise you and refer you to the most appropriate professional. Although barristers work independently, they often have working relationships with particular solicitors. This can be useful to help ensure the best possible outcome, and help them collaborate more effectively.