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Monthly Archives: November 2016

Chesterfield crime solicitor David Gittins recently represented a member of the Armed Forces before Chesterfield Magistrates Court caught speeding.

Speeding at 80 mph in a 30 mph Zone

Our client had been charged with speeding having been followed by a police car driving at 80 mph in a 30 mph zone. Whilst being caught speeding and the associated risk of a driving disqualification would worry most people, the impact on this individual, who needed his license to maintain his career, was perhaps greater than most.

David’s client, who was only 19 years old at the time, was driving along the Dronfield bypass towards Sheffield.  He was travelling through road works where the speed was reduced to just 30 mph. With the exception of one car following the defendant, the roads were very quiet and there chesterfield crime solicitor speedingwere no workers in sight. It was only when the police car lights went on that the Defendant realised he had made a terrible mistake.

Our client  was compliant with the police, apologised, and was summonsed to Court. In the interim he had to tell his employers, the British Army, about his error. Whilst the Army were supportive of the Defendant and sent a superior officer to Court to support him, it was clear that if the Defendant lost his license for a substantial period he would also lose his job.

This was because David’s client was a tank divers in the British Army and needed his license to continue doing so. He was due to start operational training early in 2017 before being placed on stand by to be stationed at any war zone around the world the thereafter.

Speed Was Outside the Guidelines

David took instructions at court and explained that when it comes to most driving offences the Court follows set sentencing guidelines. In this case when driving in a 30mph zone the sentencing guidelines only go up to a presumed speed of 60 mph, the defendant’s speed was literally off the chart!

Notwithstanding this, David began taking details for mitigation from him including details of all his training to date, the excellent military service he has undertaken so far, and personal mitigation relating to his non-military life.

In court our client pleaded guilty and David then set about his task of keeping the driving ban, which was inevitable, to the absolute minimum. David addressed the court at length about the naivety of the defendant, his personal mitigation and the impact of losing his driving license for an extended period.

Short Disqualification

After hearing the mitigation the court sentenced the David’s client to a disqualification of just 40 days before imposing financial penalties. He was delighted with the outcome and his Superior Officer confirmed his job would be safe. The Magistrates, understanding the position, even wished him well in his future career.

Many people think they will never need a Criminal Solicitor but this goes to show the impact a solicitor can have even in more minor cases.  Without David his client may not have had the skills to present his case to the court and ensure his promising military career could continue.

Contact David Gittins

If you have any Criminal matters before the Court or Police Station, including road traffic matters, and wish to instruct David please contact his through the Chesterfield Office 01246 283000 or email her here.

Monthly Archives: November 2016

Nottingham criminal solicitor advocate Phil Plant

Nottingham solicitor advocate Phil Plant recently represented a client before Nottingham Crown Court who face the serious allegation of inflicting Grievous Bodily Harm with Intent (Section 18 GBH).  After trial, he was found not guilty.

Assault Following False Allegations

Phil’s client was said, along with a co-accused, to have taken part in a brutal revenge attack on the victim following false allegations that he had assaulted a female friend.

section 18 GBH trial
Trial Success at Nottingham Crown Court

The victim had been so badly beaten that was so badly beaten he suffered a displaced fractured of the jaw.  It also led to him suffering  almost total amnesia and his recollection was based on harrowing flashbacks of the incident that continued to haunt him.

Lesser Charge Instead of Section 18 GBH?

Upon conviction, our client could expect a substantial period of imprisonment.  The prosecution had told us that it would accept a plea to the lesser charge of inflicting GBH (Section 20 rather than section 18 GBH).  Phil’s client insisted that he was not involved at all, so chose to have his trial.

The victim asserted that the the complainant named both of the accused as the perpetrators of the attack.  Phil’s client did not accept that he was part of the attack, although he did witness it.

When questioned by Phil the complainant conceded that his client was not the kind of man who would behave in the manner he described, conceding perhaps that it appeared unlikely that his client did indeed take part in the attack.

The other defendant had given given different accounts during the course of the investigation.  At trial he maintained that it was our client who had carried out the assault.

Not Guilty Verdict

Having heard evidence tested through Phil’s expert cross-examination the jury found his client not guilty.  The other accused, separately represented, was convicted of the original offence and received a significant custodial sentence of several years.

Contact Phil Plant

If you wish to instruct Phil to represent you at trial before Nottingham Crown Court then please contact him on 0115 9599550 or email him here.

Monthly Archives: November 2016

Nottingham criminal solicitor and regulatory lawyer Martin Hadley represented a landlord client.  He  had been visited by local council Enforcement Officers. They were inspecting homes in multiple occupation to ensure that landlords were abiding by the duties imposed upon them by Section 234 of the Housing Act 2004.

The Management Regulations under this Act are designed to ensure that tenants are provided with safe, good quality housing. The regulations place a heavy burden upon landlords.

Homes in Multiple Occupation

A house in multiple occupation is a property rented out by at least 3 people who are not from 1 ‘household’ (eg a family) but share facilities like the bathroom and kitchen. It’s sometimes called a ‘house share’. You must have a licence if you’re renting out a large HMO .  Further information can be found here.

homes in multiple occupation

The client’s premises were visited whilst he was undertaking renovation works.

Unfortunately, however, he had failed to maintain:-

  • statutory notices
  • fire alarms
  • common parts in a safe condition
  • hand rails, or
  • boundary fences.

Interview Under Caution

The Council officers interviewed Martin’s client under caution and with a recording being made.  Sensibly, our client chose to instruct Martin prior to the interview and he was present to give advice and assistance throughout the interview process.

Martin’s client did not dispute the allegations.  Martin made representations to the council that this was a case that could be dealt with by way of a caution.  Such a warning would be taken into account if there were further allegations in the future and a prosecuting authority had to decide whether to bring court proceedings.

No Prosecution

The client was understandably happy with the outcome of the investigation.  Martin’s approach identified that although the matter was admitted there was an alternative to prosecution and secured the appropriate outcome.

Our client avoided what could have been an expensive day at court as it was likely that he would have had to pay a fine and the local authorities costs for investigating and prosecuting the matter.  In addition he would have received a criminal record.

Contact Martin Hadley

If you receive notice that you are under investigation by the local authority as a landlord with homes in multiple occupation, or for one of the range of offences that you can be prosecuted for then please contact Martin on 0115 9599550 or email him here.

Monthly Archives: November 2016

Nottingham solicitor advocate Nick Walsh recently dealt with a sentence before Nottingham Crown Court.  Careful mitigation drew distinctions between his client and two others to ensure that he received a suspended sentence rather than an immediate prison sentence.

Nottingham Crown Court
Nottingham Crown Court

Struck With a Bottle

Nick’s client, along with others, had pleaded guilty to inflicting grievous bodily harm.   He was one of five people who had attended a house party.  Everyone present was drunk.

The behaviour of one of the group led to concerns from the victim that a female party-goer was to be assaulted.  As a result, the victim took hold of the aggressor.  He was then set upon by the group. During the assault he was punched and kicked and struck over the head with a bottle.

As a result of the assault he received a fractured jaw and had to undergo immediate surgery.  He was discharged from hospital two days later.

Negotiation of Lesser Charge

Only three of the five had been charged with offences.  They had originally been charged inflicting grievous bodily harm with intent to case really serious injury.  Negotiation at the Plea and Trial Preparation Hearing persuaded the prosecution to accept pleas to the lesser charge.

The probation service had prepared a pre-sentence report.  In that report, Nick’s client had accepted that he was the person who had struck the victim with the bottle.

Sentencing Guidelines

The sentencing guidelines relating to this offence can be found here.

One interpretation of the Guidelines would have placed this offence as one of greater harm, it being a sustained assault, and higher culpability as a weapon was used in the attack.  Had that been the case, the starting point for sentence for a ‘Category 1’ offence would have been three years imprisonment.

Further negotiation with the prosecutor and detailed representations to the Judge allowed the case to be treated as falling within Category 2 of the guideline.  This was due to the absence of pre-meditation.  As a result there was now a starting point of 18 months custody.

Careful Mitigation at Nottingham Crown Court

Although 17 at the time of the incident, Nick’s client was 18 at the point of sentence.  Nick was able to rely upon his client’s youth and more importantly what he had achieved in the ten months since the incident.  He had found work and broken off ties with his co-accused.  He also had compelling mitigation relating to his upbringing.

As a result, although it was Nick’s client who used a weapon in the incident the Judge at Nottingham Crown Court was able to distinguish between him and the others in the dock.  He received a sentence of 8 months suspended for 18 months with community requirements.   His co accused, however,  each received sentences 14 months’ immediate custody.

Contact Nick Walsh

Nick deals with clients at the police station, Magistrates’ and Crown Courts.  As a result he can provide you with continuity of representation.  If you wish to instruct Nick in any case then please telephone him on 0115 9599550 or email him here.


Monthly Archives: November 2016

We are pleased to confirm that we have been awarded the legal aid contracts that we bid for earlier in the year.

These contracts allow us to provide publicly funded representation for our clients at the police station and Magistrates’ and Crown courts nationwide.

Duty Solicitor Work

VHS Fletchers will also be able to represent those clients who ask for the duty solicitor at police stations and courts across Nottinghamshire and Derbyshire.

Prison Law

As a firm we do not forget about clients once a case is concluded. We are pleased to confirm that we will be able to continue to represent our own and other clients who have issues that arise during the serving of any custodial sentence through our prison law department.

legal aid nottingham derby chesterfield mansfield ilkeston
Legal Aid Contract Award

Contact Us

Please find your most convenient office here to contact one of our lawyers or email us here.

Monthly Archives: November 2016

Mansfield crime solicitor Melanie Hoffman successfully argued special reasons so that her client did not receive a penalty or disqualification despite driving while over the legal limit.

Facts of the Case

Mel’s client had driven to his local pub to enjoy an evening with a friend.  This was a regular arrangement and he had every intention of walking home.

Instead of having a pleasant evening, he and his friend were assaulted in the pub by a group of strangers who entered the pub shortly before closing time.  They were heavily in drink and intent on causing further trouble and threats were made.

Upon leaving the pub, Mel’s client and his friend were again confronted by members of this group, who were by now brandishing tools as weapons.  He and his friend sought sanctuary in the works van, only for this to come under attack.

Some of  the group were able to open the passenger side door with a view to pulling the passenger from the van.  Mel’s client decided that despite having drunk alcohol, his only option was to drive the van off the pub car park.  He genuinely feared for his own and his friend’s safety.

Once on the road the van was pursued by the group who were running after the group and also going to vehicles.  As a result, our client had no alternative but to continued to drive in the direction of the local police station.  Whilst doing so  he called the police via his hands free kit to explain the situation.  The police station was unmanned so that the he needed to continue to drive,  ensuring that he kept in constant contact with the Police as he did so.

Eventually the pursuit came to an end and he was able to pull over and park the van,  knowing that the Police were in attendance to assist. The Police chose to carry out a breath test, which the Defendant failed. He was ultimately charged with a drink drive offence, despite what might have amounted to compelling public interest reasons to the contrary.

Special Reasons Identified

Special Reasons Drink Drive Mansfield
Mansfield Magistrates’ Court

Upon taking instructions from her client, Mel correctly advised him that a plea of guilty would have to be entered as he had driven on a public road whilst over the legal limit to do.  The Crown would not consider withdrawing proceedings.   He would be able, however, to put a special reasons argument before the court to seek to avoid punishment and a driving disqualification that would normally follow such a plea.

He would argue that he had only driven because he genuinely feared for the safety of himself and his friend, and a sober individual would have done the same in these circumstances.

To ensure that her client placed the best argument before the Magistrates, Mel:

  • took detailed statements from the friend and pub licensee
  • ensured that this evidence was agreed by the prosecution
  • played the 999 call made by her client to the court

At the court hearing, Mel’s client gave evidence on his own behalf, and by the conclusion of the case there could be no doubt that the facts were as he described.

The Magistrates found that special reasons did apply in this case.  He received an absolute discharge and no driving disqualification. There was no endorsement of the matter on his driving record and he did not have to pay any prosecution costs.

Contact Melanie Hoffman

It may be that if you are arrested for drinking and driving then you are interviewed by the police.  If so, it is vital that you seek our free and independent legal advice at that stage to make sure that you provide the detail that might provide you with a defence or special reasons to avoid a disqualification.

There are a number of other reasons why you should choose to instruct us at the police station.  They can be found here.

There are a limited number of special reasons that can be put forward to avoid a driving disqualification for a drink drive offence, so if we haven’t been at the police station you will want to instruct us for court proceedings.  We will always advise you about your entitlement to criminal legal aid for Magistrates’ Court representation.

Mel is currently on maternity leave, but if you are being investigated or face court proceedings then please contact her colleagues Tim Haines or Emma Cornel on 01623 675816 or use the contact form below:


Monthly Archives: November 2016

Mansfield criminal solicitor Melanie Hoffman recently represented a client at a trial for allegations of domestic violence before Mansfield Magistrates’ Court.  He faced charges of assaulting both his his estranged wife and teenage daughter during a visit to the former matrimonial home.

In police interview Mel’s client had answered questions, raising self defence on both counts without the benefit of legal advice. This account was maintained at his first Magistrates’ Court appearance and he entered not guilty pleas.

Pressure from the Bench

Mansfield crime solicitor domestic violence acquittal
Mansfield Magistrates’ Court

These pleas were entered despite pressure being applied by the court in the form of an indication that custody would be the likely outcome in the event of conviction after trial.  Alternatively, there was mention of a community order following an early guilty plea.

Mel’s client did not give in to this pressure, maintaining his instructions.  As a result, Mel began her detailed trial preparation.  This thorough examination of the statements highlighted a number of inconsistencies in the prosecution written witness statements and video interviews.  This preparation allowed the careful editing of the video to ensure that information that was not relevant to the trial issue and would prejudice her client was removed.

Special Measure for Witnesses in Domestic Violence

At trial, Mel pursued a line of sensitive but meticulous cross-examination of both ex-wife and child witness.  The former had the benefit of being screened from Mel’s client, the latter was questioned across a video link.  This measures are common place in such trials.

During this questioning the inconsistencies previously noted by Mel during her case preparation began to emerge.

Mel’s client gave evidence on his own behalf.  This was consistent with the explanation that he had given to the police in interview several months before.

Detailed Closing Speech

In her closing speech, Mel’s grasp of the case allowed her to take the Magistrates through the detail of the case, highlighting what she believed amounted to significant inconsistencies between the accounts of the prosecution witnesses.  This was usefully contrasted with the consistent account given by her client.  Mel also reminded the Magistrates that they would have to take into account her client’s good character, relevant to whether he was telling the truth and likely to have committed the offences.

She submitted that this combination of factors meant that the prosecution had not made the Magistrates sure of her client’s guilt. The Magistrates agreed with Mel’s representations and found her client not guilty of both charges.  In their reasons they explained that owing to the inconsistencies high-lighted by Mel they weren’t sure that the defendant had acted in the manner alleged.

Restraining Order Refused

Unfortunately, there is now the opportunity for the prosecution to apply for a Restraining Order even where a person is found not guilty of all of the offences of domestic violence.  The Crown chose to make such an application here, but Mel successfully opposed this application  on the basis of the difficulties with the original evidence and the fact that there had been no suggestion of difficulties in the months between the allegation being made and trial.

Contact Melanie Hoffman

Are you at risk of losing your good name as a result of criminal allegations?  Do you face allegations of domestic violence?  If you wish to discuss a police investigation or court proceedings with Mel then please telephone her on 01623 675816 or email her here.

Monthly Archives: November 2016

Nottingham crime solicitor Louise Wright was recently instructed in a case alleging police assault at Nottingham Magistrates’ Court. After a full day of trial her client was found not guilty after careful application of the relevant law.

Alleged Police Assault

Police were called to an alleged domestic disturbance.  Upon arrival, a female is standing outside the  address with her children.  She stated that her ex-partner was inside the address, refusing to leave.  The police officers entered and spoke with the male who they claimed refused to leave the property.

police assault nottingham criminal solicitor
Nottingham Magistrates’ Court

The prosecution’s case was that our client was arrested for a breach of the peace.  He was said to have been initially compliant but upon being taken to the police car he began to resist.  This resulted in CS spray being used and her client being placed in leg restraints.

The officer sustained a cut to her hand during the incident.  As a result our client was further arrested for assaulting the officer in the execution of her duty.

Two Part Defence

The client’s defence had two parts:

  • that the officer had not arrested our client or explained why he was being taken against his will
  • that an arrest for breach of peace will only be lawful if the threat of the breach is imminent.

Louise argued that as the concept of a breach of the peace was loosely defined, the powers afforded to those who intend to stop or prevent a breach should be closely scrutinised by the courts to ensure that there has been no undue interference with respect of Article 5 rights.

The magistrates were referred to the leading authority of R v Howell [1982].  This defined what a breach of the peace was. Agitated or excited behaviour, not involving any injury, nor any verbal threat, cannot be a breach of the peace.

A more recent case of Hawkes v DPP [2006]  decided that language and an abusive aggressive manner might justify an arrest on the ground of an apprehended breach of the peace.  To be arrested for an actual breach of the peace there had to be an incident of violence. As a result, as in Louise’s case, verbal abuse and a refusal to get into the police car did not amount to such an incident.

Closing Speech

At the conclusion of the case, Louise argued before the Magistrates that there had been no breach of the peace.  As a result the officers did not have a power if arrest.  As a result, their purported arrest was unlawful and Louise’s client’s behaviour, by contrast, was both lawful and reasonable.  Additionally, there were inconsistencies in the police evidence that did not assist the prosecution’s case.

Having considered the evidence and the submissions the Magistrates found Louise’s client not guilty of the charge of police assault.  Her client felt that in all of the circumstances he had been wronged, and as a result he was extremely appreciative that Louise had undertaken the detailed analysis of the evidence and the issues that allowed the right verdict.

Contact Louise Wright

If you have a case that involves the need to challenge police evidence, such as police assault, then please contact Louise Wright on 0115 9599550 or email her here.

Monthly Archives: November 2016

Mansfield crime solicitor Tim Haines recently dealt with a drink drive sentence for a client who was nearly four times the legal limit to drive. Careful mitigation permitted the client to avoid what appeared to be an inevitable prison sentence.

Four Times the Drink Drive Limit

The background to the allegations was that Tim’s client had called an ambulance for his friend who had become unwell.  Unfortunately he chose to follow the ambulance in his own vehicle.  He was stopped by the police in the hospital grounds.  He provided a sample of 139 in breath at this time, following it up with a sample of 136 in breath at the police station.  The legal limit is 35.

Credit for Guilty Plea

On taking instructions, Tim advised the client as to the strength of the evidence and credit for a guilty plea.  As a result, the client entered a timely guilty plea.  He abandoned an intention to argue that his drink had been spiked.  The level of reading would, in effect, prohibit the success of such an argument.

drink drive criminal solicitor mansfield
Mansfield Magistrates’ Court

The reading meant that the Magistrates would be considering a custodial sentence, but this was also our client’s second conviction for drink driving within 5 years. His previous case had been dealt with by way of a community order due to that high reading.

He had been disqualified from driving for a significant period but had  successfully completed the drink drivers rehabilitation course thereby reducing that driving ban imposed by a quarter.

Although a prison sentence could easily have been justified for the current offence on the basis of current sentencing guidelines, bearing in mind the reading and the previous recent conviction, Tim was able to persuade the court to impose a suspended term of imprisonment with rehabilitation requirements attached.

Detailed and Careful Mitigation

Following the mitigation put by Tim, the Magistrates stressed that they had drawn back from an immediate prison sentence due to the detailed and careful mitigation advanced by Tim.  This recognised that the sentencing process should combine both punishment and the rehabilitation of offenders.

Tim’s client was understandably relieved following the sentencing hearing.

Contact Tim Haines

If you face criminal investigations or proceedings then please contact Tim Haines immediately on 01623 675816 or email him here..  He will advise you as to how best to proceed in order to secure the best result for you, whether at the police station, Magistrates’ or Crown Courts.

Monthly Archives: November 2016

Mansfield Crime Solicitor Tim Haines complied with court directions  in a ‘drug driving’ case which meant that the Crown were forced to drop a case on the day of trial.

Drug Driving

mansfield criminal solicitor drug driving acquittal
Mansfield Magistrates’ Court

His client was charged with ‘drug driving’. The prosecution case was that he had been driving with nearly eight times the legal level of the drug amphetamine in his system. The Defendant disputed this evidence.  He was not helped in this because he had managed to misplace his blood sample provided by the police to allow his own expert analysis.

The obligation is on a client and his legal representative to complete a pre-trial review form each and every time a case is adjourned to trial in the Magistrates’ Court.  In this case, Tim completed the form in great detail.  I was made abundantly clear that the expert evidence relied upon by the prosecution could not be agreed as the findings were disputed.

Expert’s Findings Challenged

Perhaps more importantly, because the findings were challenged, the client directly challenged the prosecution to prove that the sample analysed was the correct one.  The Crown was told that it would have to prove each evidential link between the sample being taken and analysed.

Despite this early identification of the relevant issues the prosecution failed to obtain and serve this evidence.  As a result, on the day of the trial Tim made representations to the Magistrates that the prosecution case was fundamentally flawed.  The Crown could not prove to the Court that the sample analysed by its expert was that taken from the Defendant after arrest.

Not an ‘ambush’ defence

An attempt was made by the prosecution to suggest that it had been ‘ambushed’.  It was argued that the issue as to lack of continuity had not been raised by Tim sufficiently mansfield crime solicitor drug driving acquittalin advance of the trial. This contention could easily be refuted by reference to the case management form completed some 6 months earlier.  This made it clear what the evidential issues were.

The Magistrates understandably refused the Crown application to adjourn the case to a fresh trial date.   They were able to point out that the completed pre-trial form was fully and accurately completed.  As a result the Crown had had 6 months to respond to the evidential challenge raised by the Defence. The Crown were left with no option but to offer no evidence against the Tim’s client and the charge was dismissed.

Tim’s client left court without conviction and what would have been a mandatory driving disqualification of at least 12 months.  He was able to keep his employment, which would have been jeopardised if not lost altogether if he had been disqualified from driving.

Contact Tim Haines

Road traffic cases may seem straightforward but can be complex.  If you wish to speak to Tim about a police investigation or court case  for drug driving or any other matter please telephone him on 01623 675816 or email him here.

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