Your Rights If You Have Been Summonsed to Court
You have now been served with a Summons, meaning you have been summonsed to court. A Summons is a legal document and it means you have to attend a court at the date, time and place stated on it, to answer a criminal accusation.
As you are now involved in a court process, you have certain rights. It is important you know these rights, which are explained below.
1. The Right to Consult with a Solicitor and to Get Legal Advice
You have the right to talk to and to get legal and other advice from a solicitor .
A solicitor is a lawyer and is independent from An Garda Síochána (Irish police) or State authorities.
You may be able to get legal aid free of charge. On the court date, you can apply for free legal aid to the judge hearing your case. The Judge may need information from you to decide if free legal aid can be granted and will consider the following matters before making a decision on legal aid:
- Whether you have enough money to pay for your own lawyer.
- Given the seriousness of the charge or offence, whether it is in the interest of justice that you should have legal aid in the preparation and conduct of your defence.
2. The Right to Remain Silent
In general, you do not have to answer any questions about the accusation made in the Summons or provide information about the accusation made in the Summons.
- You should answer when the Registrar calls your name and answer any procedural questions the Judge asks you in court.
- When you are asked, you should say whether you are pleading guilty or not guilty.
- You have a right not to give evidence – however, if you do decide to give evidence in court, you have to answer any questions that are asked of you about the accusation in the Summons.
Your solicitor (if you have one) can help you to decide on the best approach for you.
3. The Right to Ask for Further Information About What You Are Accused Of
The Summons has information about what you are being accused of, but you can ask for more information and documents about the accusation.
When you get to court, you or your solicitor (if you have one) can ask the Judge for more information and documents. If the Judge grants you this, the Judge may postpone your case to give you time to consider all of the information (and any documents) before you decide if you want to plead guilty or not guilty to what you are being accused of.
Your solicitor (if you have one) can advise you on the best approach for you.
4. The Right to Ask the Judge for an Interpreter or Translation of Documents
You can ask the Judge for an interpreter or translation of documents. If the Judge orders this assistance in court, it will be free of charge. The Judge may postpone your case to make sure that an interpreter is available.
If you have a hearing or speech impediment, you can ask the Judge for an interpreter or other help. If the Judge orders this assistance in court, it will be free of charge.