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I have been summoned to the police court, now what?

With a subpoena, proper follow-up is crucial. It's best to know what to do.

On the basis of the summons, you will get a permission to look into your file at the clerk's office of the police court and use this to find out what is actually going on.

Do you decide to go to the hearing alone? Then you will have the opportunity to defend yourself personally about the facts.

Also know that the public prosecutor, who will claim a sentence against you, is in possession of an extract from your criminal record. So if you have committed offences before, you will most likely receive a harsher sentence.

The sentence will either be pronounced on the spot or on a certain date determined by the police judge.

Don't agree with your sentence? A 30-day appeal period starts from the day of the sentence. This gives you the opportunity to lodge an appeal if you do not agree with the decision or find the punishment too severe or not severe enough. The prosecution also has the same time to appeal or not.

Do I need a lawyer?

Having a lawyer present before the police court is very useful. First, they will thoroughly review your file and discuss with you what the possible consequences might be. They will also be able to tell you how a hearing before the police court works in practice.

During the hearing, your presence is not obligatory if the lawyer is there to represent you. Your lawyer will therefore be able to tell you, based on your file, whether or not it is necessary for you to accompany you to court.

Your lawyer will point out specific circumstances to convince the judge (on legal or factual grounds) that you are not, or not completely, at fault. And even if you are guilty, a good argument can make a big difference to the punishment you receive. This is because your lawyer also knows the law and the applicable laws, and so can argue a lenient sentence for you with good knowledge and experience.

If your lawyer demonstrates mitigating circumstances, a police judge can reduce the statutory fine. They may also adjust the revocation of your driving licence so that you can still use your car to go to work during the week, for example.

Be sure to also check whether you have legal expenses insurance. This can be in a separate policy or as an extra hatch in your car insurance. Then chances are that the costs of your defence in court by a lawyer you can choose will be covered.

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