Question posted in the Criminal Law category relating to Gauteng
Question value: R 300.00
My son (student) was arrested last year for driving under the influence. He needs to appear in court on 20 June. He is convinced that he was not over the limit, however, I am a concerned mother. I obviously want to help my child, but cannot afford to through a lot of money a it. I understand that a lawyer could potentially help to get a diverted sentence, being first offense, should he be found guilty.
Would it be better to have a lawyer present at the court. My concern is that we might sit there all day and then found not quilty any way, or have the case postponed if they dont have the results back.
My questions are as follows:
1) Can he find out if the test results are back prior to the court date ?
2) Could he go to court, and if found guilty then ask for postponement in order to get legal representation
3) If he is found guilty, can he ask for a diverted sentence, or is that only possible if you use a lawyer ?
3) Should they postpone the case, does he have the right to ask for an alternative date if the court date co-incides with a test / exam ?
What would your advise be to minimise legal costs but at the same time have the best chance not to get a criminal record ?
Thank you very much.
Answer to the Question
Hi there and thank you for your question,
I am a practicing attorney based in South Africa and I will assist you with your question. Please feel free to ask as many follow up questions in order to clarify your question. If you have a new question, you must please open a new thread.
Re: 1) Can he find out if the test results are back prior to the court date ? --> No, unfortunately not. The SAPS lab will provide the test results to the prosecutor. It will be up to the prosecutor to decide when he will tell you. There is however an obligation on the prosecutor to give you a FULL copy of the entire docket before the trial, but you are only entitled to ask for that after the SAPS investigations have been completed and they are ready for trial.
Re: 2) Could he go to court, and if found guilty then ask for postponement in order to get legal representation --> No. If he is found guilty he will then be sentenced. If he wants a lawyer, then he needs to get a lawyer before the trial starts. The lawyer needs to prepare for the trial to defend your son.
Re: 3) If he is found guilty, can he ask for a diverted sentence, or is that only possible if you use a lawyer? --> No. He can ask that the sentence be a light sentence for whatever reasons, but the adult diversion that you are speaking about is something that happens instead of a trial. Basically, you agree to do some form of community service and if you do it properly then the prosecutor will withdraw the charges. You do the community service, the charges are withdrawn, no trial, no criminal record. You can ask for this yourself with the prosecutor, but you'd need to motivate it. A lawyer would be able to assist you with preparing the reasons in the format of written representations.
Re: 4) Should they postpone the case, does he have the right to ask for an alternative date if the court date co-incides with a test / exam? --> Yes, however not many people know this. If he is represented by a lawyer, then the date must be suitable to the lawyer. The same goes for your son.
Q: What would your advise be to minimise legal costs but at the same time have the best chance not to get a criminal record ? --> Hire a lawyer now, and ask him to assist with making written representations to the prosecutor asking that your son do community service through an adult diversion course, and then the charges be withdrawn.
If you have a lawyer representing your son, the prosecutor will normally call those cases first. That means that you won't then sit around for the entire day! If you don't have a lawyer, then you are back of the queue!
If there is a part of the answer which you need more advice on, or clarity please continue in this same thread instead of opening a new question.
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