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Criminal law | Legal Guides

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You can find out more about criminal law issues by clicking on the links below:

Talk to your solicitor

The information provided here is intended as a guide only and is not a substitute for professional advice. If you have a legal issue, you should talk to a solicitor who has the skills to help you.

No responsibility is accepted for any errors or omissions, howsoever arising.

Interviews at a Garda station

Gardaí will often seek to interview suspects or witnesses at a Garda station. They can do this by arresting you, or by asking you to assist them with their enquiries voluntarily. If you choose to come to a Garda station voluntarily, you are free to leave the station at any time unless you are arrested.

You have a right to be represented and advised by your solicitor in any interview with Gardaí. You can find contact details for solicitors who have indicated that they are available to attend Garda stations in different divisions using the free Find a Garda Station Solicitor service.

Arrests, summonses, and bail

If a Garda suspects that you have committed an offence, he or she may arrest you, or you may be served with a court summons.

Being arrested

Often, a Garda will have a warrant to arrest people, but this is not always needed. If you are suspected of an ‘arrestable offence’ (one which carries a penalty of five years or more), you can be arrested without a warrant. Gardaí also have powers to arrest people suspected of other specific offences, such as driving under the influence of alcohol.

When you are in Garda custody, you must be given reasonable access to a solicitor of your choice and be allowed to communicate with him or her privately. You can find contact details for solicitors who have indicated that they are available to attend Garda stations in different divisions using the free Find a Garda Station Solicitor service.

Court summonses

Instead of arresting you for a suspected offence, the Gardaí may serve you with a court summons to appear in court on a particular day at a particular time.

If you receive a summons and want to get legal advice, you can use our free Find a Solicitor service to look for solicitors in your area.

Legal Aid

If you cannot afford to pay for the services of a solicitor, you may be eligible for Criminal Legal Aid.

Bail or remanding in custody

If you are charged with a criminal offence, you will either be released on bail by the member in charge of the station (this is known as station bail), or transferred to the District Court as soon as possible. At the District Court, the judge may release you on bail, or may remand you in custody.

Criminal trials

If you are going to be tried in court for an offence, this can happen in one of two ways.

  • Summary trial: the trial will take place in the District court, before a judge and without a jury. Summary crimes generally attract less significant sentences or fines.
  • Trial on indictment: the trial will take place in the Circuit Criminal Court or Central Criminal Court, before a judge and jury, with greater sentencing power.

The type of trial you receive depends on the type of crime that you are accused of committing.

Sentencing

If you are found to be guilty of an offence, the judge will decide on the most appropriate sentence.

The judge will consider factors such as the circumstances of the offences, and your own personal circumstances, in determining what sentence to impose. Your solicitor may urge the judge to consider certain factors in deciding on your sentence.

The Judge may consider a range of different sentences including a prison sentence or a fine. Your solicitor can advise you on the type of sentence that you are likely to receive, and what it entails. He or she may also be able to advise you on whether to appeal a sentence and help you with that appeal.