“The lawyer is too expensive” and “he can’t do much”. “I don’t need it anyway, I can do it myself” or “I don’t know if it’s worth it or what it can do”. Here’s a summary of some of the thoughts that can go into determining an individual choice.
The following lines attempt to provide some answers.
First, there’s the good news. The lawyer may be free, in the sense that he or she costs the customer nothing, as many insurance contracts include legal protection, which covers the lawyer’s fees and expenses.
Traffic matters occupy the justice system to a considerable extent. There were nearly 2,000 immediate withdrawals of driving licenses and to the nearly 1,000 provisional driving bans issued by an investigating judge on a provisional basis in 2019 alone.
In the busy hearings of criminal and police courts, prosecutors like to point out that a driver’s license is not an acquired right, but a state authorization that carries with it duties. Litigants often become aware of this when they appear in court. In cases of immediate withdrawal of a driver’s license, the person concerned, his or her friends and family have noticed the changes in life that the absence of a driver’s license implies. No more deciding when to leave, when to arrive, where to go and how to get there. Some are discovering the joys of public transport, the constraints of being far from home to work, or alternative modes of transport, or simply that short journeys can easily be made on foot. Visiting a loved one, taking the children to school, taking them to friends’ houses or activities, transporting things (shopping, furniture) are all becoming part of everyday life, and require a certain amount of organization and planning. So after a few weeks or months of adjustment, it’s easy to believe that people are aware of the value that can be attached to a driver’s license.
Regardless of whether or not they belong to the judicial or legal world, people tend to downplay these cases. Whether in terms of numbers or consequences, traffic incidents should not be minimized or trivialized.
What may come as a shock, however, is the number of litigants who choose to appear unassisted. In fact, the choice of a lawyer is optional, and it is not compulsory to use this service. At the latest during the public hearings, the prosecutor’s closing arguments, the judge’s interpellations, the verdict, the execution of the sentence or the subsequent withdrawal of points (which can lead to other administrative sanctions that can be cumulated and result in the suspension of the right to drive for 12 months), those subject to the law sometimes feel that their choice should perhaps have been given more thought.
Among the people who consult us, recurring questions concern the penalty incurred, the course of the procedure, and the consequences of a possible sanction. The lawyer can consult the file and will explain the issues and possibilities to the client. During the consultation, the lawyer becomes a confidant and perhaps the person has not been able to tell the truth to their loved ones. It’s not uncommon to feel regret or even shame, and sometimes people simply don’t dare express all their feelings or certain events that have shocked them, for fear of the reactions of others or simply of not being believed. Experienced lawyers are familiar with certain practices, courses of action or particular feelings that people with similar experiences may have. Having to deal with other cases, there may be similarities. The lawyer can detect these sometimes unseen details that have affected the person, ask the right questions and provide answers.
Feedback from customers varies. There may be relief, hope, awareness, but in all cases there’s relief. Enlightened, people are prepared, know what’s going to happen and what’s at stake, so they can face the ordeal with greater serenity. Even if they’ve calmed down, that doesn’t stop them from dreading the court appearance. For most of them, it’s the first time they’ve had to deal with the law, and as adults, we’re not necessarily used to being exposed to a crowd of people, risking reproach and possible punishment. While strategies may vary depending on the specifics of the case, sometimes the most important thing for the client is to explain the context to the judge and thus ensure that the human being sitting as judge takes certain specifics into account to render a decision that is fair in light of the particular circumstances and the person who is the subject of the judgment. Knowing that on the big day, the lawyer is at your side to assist you can be a great comfort, and can make a big difference to the customer. In addition to the assistance of a lawyer, there is also the possibility of being represented.
You have to admit, though, that it’s always unpleasant to have to go to court and ask yourself whether or not you should get help. However, once the choice has been made, it’s a shame to regret it later, especially when it was based on false beliefs. By choosing to consult, the customer is not simply passive and forced to endure what happens next on his or her own. He can be active and become aware of things he hadn’t thought of.
To conclude, a statement made in France by a prosecutor in open court who declared “justice that is better accepted will be better executed”. Indeed, if the litigant is informed and can actively participate in the course of his or her trial, justice will certainly be more efficient, and everyone stands to gain.
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