|Pierse Fitzgibbon Solicitors have extensive legal expertise in criminal defense and prosecution litigation. We recognise the client’s need for non-judgmental and practical advice, particularly when dealing with criminal offences. We believe everyone is innocent until proven guilty, and that all accused persons are entitled to be defended and have a fair trial. This is what we deem to be the essence of our Justice system.
” We believe everyone is innocent until proven guilty, and that all accused persons are entitled to be defended and have a fair trial “
The District Court primarily deals with minor criminal offences such as public order, non-serious assault and Road Traffic offences to name but a few. There is a constant stream of new legislation emanating from our legislators and we take pride in the fact that our legal team remains fully abreast of criminal law developments, thus providing the best service to our clients.
Our experienced criminal lawyers are also briefed in dealing with the more serious criminal offences, including, but not limited to, murder, manslaughter, rape, sexual assaults, serious assault, dangerous driving causing death and serious drug offences.
Pierse Fitzgibbon Solicitors are registered on the criminal legal aid panel and are therefore in a position to provide services to our clients on that basis.
For more information on the above issues, please click on one of the following links:
- Public Order Offences
- Criminal Legal Aid
Public Order Offences
What are Public Order Offences?
Public Order offences are one of the most common minor criminal offences which are prosecuted in the District Court. The law dealing with Public Order offences is derived from the Criminal Justice (Public Order) Act, 1994 which deals with the behaviour of people in public places.
Can I be arrested and brought to court for committing such an offence?
If a Garda suspects you of having committed a public order offence, he will invariable ask you for your name and address. You are committing a further offence if you do not give him this information. A Garda can arrest you without warrant on suspicion of committing a public order offence, and you will then be summonsed to court to answer for your actions.
What are the most common offences in the Public Order Act 1994?
Some of the most common public order offences are as follows:
- Section 4: this section deals with the offence of being intoxicated in a public place. The maximum fine for committing such an offence is €500, but this section also grants the Gardai the power to seize the intoxicating matter where they feel an offence is being committed under this section.
- Section 6: This section makes it an offence for any one in a public place to employ or engage in any threatening or abusive or offensive words or behaviour with the intention of causing a breach of the peace. The Gardai also have the power to confiscate any intoxicating material where they feel a crime is being committed under this section. Any person guilty of such an offence can be fined to a maximum of €1,000 or a maximum of three months imprisonment.
- Section 8: this section creates the offence of failure to comply, without reasonable excuse or authority, with the directions of a Garda. Such direction may be to cease acting in such a way which causes the Garda to have a reasonable fear for the safety of persons or property or for the maintenance of public peace. Any person convicted under this section is liable to fine not exceeding €1,000 or to a term of imprisonment not exceeding six months.
Criminal Legal Aid
What is Criminal Legal Aid?
Most people charged with criminal offences do not have the means to pay their own legal costs, therefore the Criminal Justice (Legal Aid) Act 1962 was introduced to allow the State to provide free legal aid to less well off persons in certain criminal cases.
How do I qualify for Criminal Legal Aid?
There are two tests that one must satisfy before they can qualify for legal aid:
- The Means Test: The court will only grant legal aid where they are satisfied that you do not have the resources to pay for your own legal costs. The court will invariable ask questions such as ‘Are you working?’ ‘How much do you earn?’ If you are not working and are in fact drawing social welfare, the court may then likely ask you where you collect your payments. If you are under the age of 21, they will then consider whether your parents are willing and able to assist you in paying for legal representation.
The Gardai may express an opinion contrary to the giving of legal aid to you, for example, they may claim that you are indeed employed when you have stated you are not, or they may allege that you own property or cars etc. Legal aid is often refused on the basis that you have access to other means from which you may pay your legal costs.
A Judge may require a Statement of Means where they dissatisfied with your oral evidence regarding your means. This statement will set out all your income and outgoings so as to provide the Judge with a clear picture of your situation. It is an offence to provide false or misleading information in this Statement of Means.
- The Gravity of Charge Test: This test considers the seriousness of the charge against you and the likelihood of a term of imprisonment being imposed. Courts are generally of the view that where a term of imprisonment is likely on conviction, legal aid should be granted. This is due to the fact that your freedom is being adversely interfered with and you should have a right to protect that freedom as best you can.
Can I appeal the refusal of a Judge to grant me legal aid?
The short answer to this is No. On the other hand, you can apply again to a higher court if your case has been sent forward for trial to that court. For example, you previously applied in the District Court, but you have been refused. Your case has now been sent forward for trial to the Circuit Court, therefore, you may bring a new application for legal aid in this court.
How do I apply for Legal Aid?
The Judge informs you of your entitlement to apply for legal aid at your first appearance in court, and it is at this stage, that the application is made by you.
If you would like to speak to someone regarding Criminal Litigation please contact:
Helena O’Carroll (Solicitor)
t: 068 50948