Monthly Archives: February 2018
The government has recently announced that West Yorkshire Police has signed up to a new identity checking service. This represents a further roll out of police fingerprint checking by portable scanner and phone app.
The new service is already being used in a select number of force areas. A further twenty areas will be going live before the end of this year. This form of police fingerprint checking will remove the need for suspects to be taken to a police station to check identity.
It is anticipated that this will reap benefits for front line officers and suspects alike. Previous research found that the average time for an identity check was sixty seven minutes. As a result the police will be freed up the to continue with other duties. From a citizens point of view, the number needless detentions should be drastically reduced.
Support for Police fingerprint checking in the street
Police leaders have commented:
“Early examples of the new system in action include a firearms unit, who detained a driver after a short pursuit and were able to identify him as a disqualified driver, despite him giving false details. He was issued with a summons for three offences and his vehicle seized. The armed response unit returned to patrol within ten minutes, and without the mobile fingerprint scanner this could have resulted in the unit being out of action for four hours taking the individual to a custody suite.”
How does the service work?
The new service works by connecting a small fingerprint scanner to a mobile phone App. Within seconds of taking a print the suspect’s identity can be checked across the two main police databases, allowing police after that to deal more appropriately with the suspect.
While this technology has been available for a few years, reduced pricing has now made it affordable enough for a national rollout. Scanners that previously cost around £3,000 can now be purchased for under £300.
Concerns about consultation and implementation
Liberty, the leading human rights organisation has been less enthusiastic, commenting that:
“This scheme is part of a pattern of the police using radical privacy-invading technology without proper public consultation or meaningful parliamentary oversight. Much like the facial recognition technology that is increasingly being deployed by police forces, it is being presented to us after the event and with little fanfare and is being made available to more and more officers across the country. In this case, we learned about it via a sneaky gov.uk post early on a Saturday morning.”
There are important protections for suspects that are to be found in the Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984. If you have any concerns about the use of these powers, please contact us to discuss further.
Where fingerprint identification is being used to provide evidence in support of a prosecution, we will always take particular care to ensure that the law has been complied with.
How We Can Help
If you are a person facing a criminal investigation or proceedings, contact us immediately. Our solicitors are well versed in this and all other aspects of the criminal law and will work to ensure your best defence.
Alternatively you can use the contact form below.
Monthly Archives: February 2018
It is often said that there is no such thing as a dangerous dog, only a dangerous owner. While the criminal law often refers to a ‘dangerous dog’, the offences pursued in dangerous dog prosecutions relate to a dog being ‘dangerously out of control’.
Section 10 of the Dangerous Dogs Act 1991 states that:
‘a dog shall be regarded as dangerously out of control on any occasion on which there are grounds for reasonable apprehension that it will injure any person (or assistance dog), whether or not it actually does so.’
The penalties for ‘dangerous dog’ offences are severe. They include imprisonment of up to 14 years where death is caused. What is is not often understood is that an offence may lead to the destruction of the dog as well.
A discretion to order destruction?
In relation to some offences the court may order destruction. In others, the court must order destruction unless assured (by imposing strict conditions) that the dog would not constitute a danger to public safety.
When deciding whether a dog would constitute a danger to public safety, the court—
(a) must consider—
(i) the temperament of the dog and its past behaviour, and
(ii) whether the owner of the dog, or the person for the time being in charge of it, is a fit and proper person to be in charge of the dog, and
(b) may consider any other relevant circumstances.
Avoiding Destruction of a ‘dangerous dog’
In all cases where a court is considering destruction, attention must be drawn to the court’s power to order instead ‘contingent destruction’. This will prevent the dog’s destruction provided that the conditions imposed are met.
The key case in dangerous dog prosecutions remains R v Flack  EWCA Crim 204 where the following criteria were established:
“The relevant principles that can be made in respect of a dog whose owner has been convicted under section 3(1) of the 1991 Act of failing to keep a dog under control in a public place are that:
(1) The court is empowered under section 4(1) of the 1991 Act to order the destruction of the dog.
(2) Nothing in that provision shall require the court to order destruction if the court is satisfied that the dog would not constitute a danger to public safety: section 4(1)(a) of the 1991 Act.
(3) The court should ordinarily consider, before ordering immediate destruction, whether to exercise the power under section 4A(4) of the 1991 Act to order that, unless the owner of the dog keeps it under proper control, the dog shall be destroyed (“a suspended order of destruction”).
(4) A suspended order of destruction under that provision may specify the measures to be taken by the owner for keeping the dog under control whether by muzzling, keeping it on a lead, or excluding it from a specified place or otherwise: see section 4(a)(5) of the 1991 Act.
(5) A court should not order destruction if satisfied that the imposition of such a condition would mean the dog would not constitute a danger to public safety.
(6) In deciding what order to make, the court must consider all the relevant circumstances which include the dog’s history of aggressive behaviour and the owner’s history of controlling the dog concerned in order to determine what order should be made.”
What we can do to help
It is unlikely that legal argument alone will suffice to convince a court to order contingent destruction. In almost all dangerous dog prosecutions you will need the assistance of an expert in dog behaviour, alongside expert advocacy. We can arrange for the preparation of suitable expert reports and provide the advocacy for you.
Instruct an expert in defending dangerous dog prosecutions
If you are facing criminal proceedings that relate to an allegedly dangerous dog then please contact us as soon as possible. Our solicitors are well versed in this aspect of the law and will ensure your best defence is put forward before the court.
This will also include the best argument possible to ensure that your dog is not destroyed.
Alternatively, you can use the contact form below.
Monthly Archives: February 2018
A new domestic abuse sentencing guideline was published on 22 February 2018, giving courts up to date guidance that emphasises the seriousness of offending involving domestic violence or other forms of abuse in a domestic setting.
What is domestic abuse?
There is no specific crime of domestic abuse. It can be a feature of many offences including assault, sexual offences or harassment. The new domestic abuse sentencing guideline aims to ensure that the seriousness of these offences is properly taken into account when such offences are being sentenced. The intention is that sufficient thought is also given to the need to address the offender’s behaviour and prevent re-offending.
Are there an existing domestic abuse sentencing guideline?
The new guideline replaces a domestic violence guideline which was published in 2006. A great deal has changed since then in terms of societal attitudes, expert thinking and terminology.
It was felt, therefore, that guidance for courts was therefore in need of revision to bring it up to date. ‘Domestic abuse’ is now the term used, rather than ‘domestic violence’. This reflects that offences can involve psychological, sexual, financial or emotional abuse as well as physical violence.
When is the new guideline in force?
The domestic abuse sentencing guideline will apply to all offenders aged 16 and older sentenced on or after 24 May 2018.
How does this guideline change things?
The guideline identifies the principles relevant to the sentencing of cases involving domestic abuse, outlines how the seriousness of offences should be assessed and highlights other factors that should be taken into account.
It brings a distinct change in emphasis in relation to seriousness.
The previous sentencing guideline stated that offences committed in a domestic context should be seen as no less serious than those in a non-domestic context, whereas the new guideline emphasises that the fact an offence took place in a domestic context makes it more serious.
This is because domestic abuse is rarely a one-off incident, it is likely to become increasingly frequent and more serious the longer it continues and may result in death. It can also lead to lasting trauma for victims and their children.
For the first time, the guideline also includes a reference to abuse which is perpetrated through use of technology, such as email or text, social networking sites or tracking devices fitted to a victim’s car. These are increasingly common methods by which domestic abuse can occur.
The guidelines recognise that these offences can affect people of all backgrounds and the guideline is also clear that abuse can occur between family members as well as between intimate partners.
Will anything else change?
Yes. In particular, there is now additional guidance on restraining orders, along with new guidance on Victim Personal Statements.
In relation to restraining orders, the guideline now includes additional guidance to assist the court with a renewed focus on keeping the victim safe, particularly for those who continue or resume their relationship with the offender.
The guideline further reminds courts to take any Victim Personal Statement into account. Where there is no such statement, this is not an indication of any lack of harm to the victim.
Sentencing Council member Jill Gramann said:
“Domestic abuse comes in many forms such as harassment, assault and sex offences. The increasing use of technology in offending has meant that it has also evolved in its scope and impact. The new guideline will ensure that courts have the information they need to deal with the great range of offending and help prevent further abuse occurring.”
What factors will a court take into account on sentence?
The following list of non-exhaustive aggravating and mitigating factors are of particular relevance to offences committed in a domestic context and should be considered alongside offence specific factors.
- Abuse of trust and abuse of power
- Victim is particularly vulnerable. Although all victims of domestic abuse are potentially vulnerable due to the nature of the abuse, but some victims of domestic abuse may be more vulnerable than others, and not all vulnerabilities are immediately apparent)
- Steps taken to prevent the victim reporting an incident
- Steps taken to prevent the victim obtaining assistance
- Victim forced to leave home, or steps have to be taken to exclude the offender from the home to ensure the victim’s safety
- Impact on children as children can be adversely impacted by both direct and indirect exposure to domestic abuse
- Using contact arrangements with a child to instigate an offence
- A proven history of violence or threats by the offender in a domestic context
- A history of disobedience to court orders such as, but not limited to, Domestic Violence Protection Orders, non-molestation orders and restraining orders
- Positive good character – as a general principle of sentencing, a court will take account of an offender’s positive good character. However, it is recognised that one of the factors that can allow domestic abuse to continue unnoticed for lengthy periods is the ability of the perpetrator to have a public and a private face. In respect of offences committed within a domestic context, an offender’s good character in relation to conduct outside these offences should generally be of no relevance where there is a proven pattern of behaviour
- Evidence of genuine recognition of the need for change, and evidence of obtaining help or treatment to effect that change
Will those convicted get a longer sentence?
A spokesperson for the Sentencing Council commented:
‘Overall, it is likely that there will be an increase in sentence severity as a result of the introduction of the guideline, however, the guideline emphasises the need to consider the most appropriate sentence to prevent further re-offending and protect victims, which may be a community order.’
How we can help
Many people feel that sentencing is increasingly a mechanistic process, with a danger that the new domestic abuse sentencing guideline will be rigidly stuck to, and the individual considerations of defendants either ignored or played down.
However, case law over the last few years emphasises that courts should be cautious to ensure that this does not happen. All of our advocates are experienced in presenting the best mitigation possible to courts, ensuring the best possible outcome.
Contact a specialist in defending domestic abuse cases
The new domestic abuse sentencing guideline mean that it may be easier in the future for courts to justify a custodial sentence. As a result, you will want to contact us as soon as the police make contact with you.
Your nearest office can be found here. We provide a nationwide service, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. All advice and assistance in police interview will be free of charge to you. Legal aid is available for many cases before the Magistrates’ and Crown Courts.
Monthly Archives: February 2018
In 2015/16, Ipsos MORI conducted a study on individuals’ legal needs on behalf of the Law Society and the Legal Services
Board (LSB). The main component of the study was an online survey to examine individuals’ experiences of 29 legal issues and the effect of receiving early legal advice.
Large scale survey about the effect of early legal advice
The survey provided quantitative findings from 8,192 participants, which examined the responses from 16,694 issues
This included issues relating to
- divorce/dissolution of civil partnerships
- debt/money issues
- injury at work
- road traffic accidents
- personal injury
- legal issues with mental health issues
- repossession or eviction
- neighbour disputes
- relationship breakdown issues
- welfare benefits; discrimination
- being arrested
- legal issues related to children
- domestic violence
- unfair treatment by the police
These are all issues which may be handled using legal processes but are not necessarily seen as being ‘legal’ in nature by those experiencing them.
The results of the analysis
This report outlines results from analysis comparing the effects on the timing of the resolution of individuals’ legal issues of receiving early professional legal advice compared to not receiving it.
The analysis showed that early advice has a statistically significant effect on the timing of the resolution of people’s legal issues.
Specifically, the analysis showed that for these issues:
- On average, a quarter (25%) of people who received early professional legal advice had resolved their problem within 3-4 months of the problem first occurring, whereas for people who did not receive early legal advice it was not until 9 months after the issue had first occurred that 25% had resolved their issue.
- Correspondingly, and controlling for other factors that can affect problem resolution, people who did not receive early advice were 20% less likely than average to have resolved their issue at a
particular point in time.
- The main other factors affecting problem resolution were the severity of the issues, and people’s previous knowledge of their legal rights. More severe problems, as would be expected, take longer on average to resolve, and people with little previous knowledge of their legal rights were 33% less likely than average to have resolved their issue at a particular point.
- Early professional legal advice was defined as ‘within 3 months of the issue first occurring’ as analysis showed that this is a reasonable definition on average across the 17 issues considered.
- Professional legal advice covered advice from a solicitor, or other professional advisers such as Citizen Advice Bureaux or
As a result, the report stressed the importance of restoring the ability for individuals to seek early legal advice by receiving legal aid. Advice and assistance in police interview remains free of charge to all. Find out more about that here.
The Law Society is campaigning for the restoration of access to early legal advice under the legal aid scheme here.
Monthly Archives: February 2018
Senior Crown Court Litigator Sarah Lees-Collier was recently instructed in the case of a 65 year old defendant charged with serious sexual offences involving his foster or adopted daughters. The case involved careful and detailed cross examination.
The allegations were almost exclusively historic sexual offences, with the complainants giving very similar accounts of offending. All of the offences were denied.
Sarah had chosen to instruct experienced counsel Vanessa Marshall from 7 Bedford Row Chambers, known for her eye to detail and exhaustive analysis and preparation of such cases. During the currency of this case Ms Marshall discovered that she had been successful in her application to be Queen’s Counsel.
Expert cross examination of four complainants
Here, all four complainants had the benefit of special measures permitting them to give evidence behind screens. Cross examination was expertly conducted in relation to a great deal of material including social care records. A substantial amount of material was not disclosed until the trial had started.
The detailed preparation meant that we were able to show that the witnesses had told some lies that were relevant to the case. For example, one of the complainants had no choice but to accept that she had previously made false allegations about another carer. The defence identified, within the unused material, reasons why further false allegations might have been made.
Counsel had to treat the witnesses with care. It was clear that whatever the reality of the allegations they were now making, they had had a difficult early life.
Our client was of good character. As a result, character evidence was gathered. A number of witnesses attended court to speak as to his character in the trial.
Although the the trial lasted for five weeks, the defence was compelling. As a result, our client was found not guilty of all charges with the jury deliberating for just under three hours.
Our client was, of course, particularly pleased and relieved.
Contact a Crown Court litigation specialist
If you face proceedings before the Crown Court, whether you intend to plead guilty or fight your case at trial, you will want to instruct an expert Crown Court litigator.
You can contact your nearest office here. To instruct Sarah Lees-Collier she can contacted on 0115 9599550 or using the contact form below.
Monthly Archives: February 2018
As part of his training, trainee solicitor Elliott Moulster has been seconded to work at the Nottingham Law Centre in order to obtain a broad range of experience prior to qualification.
This firm enjoys a close relationship with the Nottingham Law Centre. Solicitor Andrew Wesley is the chair of the Board of Trustees for the Law Centre, responsible for oversight and some strategic management, in a pro bono role.
Nottingham Law Centre is located directly opposite the Hyson Green Market in Radford, Nottingham. It specialises in providing free legal advice and representation in the areas of housing law, debt and social security law. As a result, it advisers try to assist some of the most vulnerable in society.
Elliott has begun to work alongside Diana Bagci who is part of the Law Centre’s Social Security Team, providing particular assistance to the local Roma community.
Elliott has now spent his first week in this busy not for profit organisation.
The week started with introductions to everyone who works and volunteers at the Centre. Elliott received the warmest of welcomes from everybody that he met.
Before being trusted with providing advice, Elliott began to receive his training. He had the opportunity to sit in on many client appointments. What impressed him most about this first day was the professionalism and empathy that staff members showed when dealing with cases that were both deeply personal and of extreme sensitivity.
After spending Monday meeting clients and advisers, Elliott spent much of Tuesday at Nottingham Law Centre reading some of the relevant law and guidance relating to benefits.
He acquainted himself with the regulations concerning the Employment Support Allowance (ESA), Job Seekers Allowance (JSA) and the rules surrounding other benefits such as Universal Credit.
Elliott had further opportunities to sit in on further client interviews during the course of the day.
Elliott attended a meeting about combating modern slavery in the East Midlands. This event opened his eyes to the prevalence of such practises in the United Kingdom. This valuable insight will allow Elliott to help understand the experience of those clients who are victims of modern slavery.
The first half of Thursday was spent drafting a detailed letter to the Social Security Tribunal. The purpose of this letter was to make representations in support of an application to reconsider a previous decision of the tribunal. It was believed that the tribunal decision was in error, but that the problem could be rectified.
In the afternoon, Elliott attended a local Community Centre. This was to offer practical advice and assistance to members of the local Roma Community. Again, he found the experience very educational. He experienced a culture in some ways different to his own, and appreciated the opportunity to provide advice away from an office setting speaking directly to those in the community.
Unfortunately Elliott was unable to avoid returning to VHS Fletchers today to prepare some of Health and Safety prosecutions that he is working on. He will, however, return to Nottingham Law Centre next week to begin to provide advice.
Contact Nottingham Law Centre
As a result, if you require advice about housing law, debt or benefits entitlement then we do not hesitate to recommend the excellent service provided by the Law Centre.
Monthly Archives: February 2018
The BBC Justice survey is the result of the recent collapse of several rape cases that brought to public attention widespread concerns with disclosure practices across the Criminal Justice System.
The BBC, along with The Criminal Law Solicitors’ Association, The Criminal Bar Association and The London Criminal Courts Solicitors’ Association, would like to hear from legal professionals about the disclosure concerns behind the headlines – identifying disclosure issues that arise on a day-to-day basis in the police stations, Magistrates’ and Crown Courts.
It may be that the police have refused to give adequate disclosure for the purposes of advising prior to interview; the IDPC provided for the first hearing contains inadequate or no witness statements; there is no MG6C provided for trial; disclosure ordered by the court has still not been provided despite the expiry of time given; trials or hearings have been delayed or adjourned because of late, inadequate or no disclosure given to the defence.
The survey is open to members of The Criminal Law Solicitors’ Association, The Criminal Bar Association and The London Criminal Courts Solicitors’ Association, and all solicitors and barristers currently practicing criminal law in England & Wales.
The BBC want you to tell them about your experiences over the past 12 months.
The survey only takes a few minutes to complete. All responses will be treated confidentially.
The closing date for responses is Tuesday 20th February.
Monthly Archives: February 2018
Bitcoin and other crypto-currencies are never far from the news. This is most recently because the value of Bitcoin rose considerably in the latter part of 2017, the market then crashing. It is a currency that permits criminal activity for those involved in money laundering.
It is an odd ‘currency’, as it is not backed by any government, and certainly not by an underlying gold stock. It is, in fact, nothing more than a virtual object that has a value dictated solely by supply and demand – indeed that is one of the few characteristics that it shares with conventional currency.
Currency attractive for money laundering
So, why the attraction? Why would a person wish to convert £10,000 into one bitcoin, or a lesser amount for a share of one?
One of the main attractions of bitcoin is that it exists across borders, outside of traditional banking controls and with a secure cloak of anonymity. Those three magic ingredients make this type of currency attractive to those seeking to launder the proceeds of crime.
Nobody is interested in the identity of the trader. The proceeds can be cashed in almost anywhere in the world. There are even cash machines in some countries including England. Blockchain encryption has rendered law enforcement impotent in this brave new world of international finance.
This explains the rise in value. In just one year it rose to thirteen times its value at the end of 2016.
But, the larger the sums that need to be laundered, the more complex and risky it is to make those initial transactions. That is where the middle-man comes in. He or she will be a person either knowingly or unwittingly agreeing to purchase bitcoin, or, more commonly, transfer monies on behalf of a money launderer. They will take a fee for his or her trouble along the way.
Sometimes the amount could be as little as a few hundred pounds but extrapolated this sum becomes significant. Such individuals are known as ‘money mules’.
Government regulation to fight money laundering
The government is keen to regulate these new currencies, and in a recent statement to parliament the treasury minister said:
“The UK Government is currently negotiating amendments to the 4th Anti-Money Laundering Directive that will bring virtual currency exchange platforms and custodian wallet providers into Anti-Money Laundering and Counter-Terrorist Financing regulation, which will result in these firms’ activities being overseen by national competent authorities for these areas. The Government supports the intention behind these amendments. We expect these negotiations to conclude at EU level in late 2017/early 2018.”
Until these protections are in place, people will be able to assist in money laundering enterprises, with little that the authorities can do to stop it.
Up to fourteen years for money laundering offences
It perhaps sounds the stuff of fiction, but in the first nine months of 2017, there were over 8652 ‘money mule’ cases identified by Cifas, the fraud prevention service. This criminality represents just the tip of a money laundering iceberg.
The penalty if caught is potentially significant, with sentences of imprisonment as long as 14 years available to a court. If someone close to you seems to have come into money, you may want to start asking questions, before it is too late.
Contact us for specialist legal advice
When a person becomes unwittingly involved in money laundering it is important to step back from the position as seen with the benefit of hindsight and examine what truly went on. A careful forensic analysis of the circumstances will reveal any defences available to someone suspected of money laundering crimes. Making a silly mistake is not yet a crime.
If you need advice about money laundering or any other criminal law matter then please contact your nearest office. We will be able to provide you with free and independent legal advice in any police interview, and advise you on the availability of legal aid should your case come to court. Alternatively, you can get in touch by using the contact form below.
Monthly Archives: February 2018
From 6 April 2018 the Act will allow local authorities to apply for a banning order where a landlord has been convicted of a ‘banning order offence.’
What is a banning order?
A banning order will ban a person from:
- letting housing in England,
- engaging in English letting agency work,
- engaging in English property management work, or
- doing two or more of those things.
The banning orders will operate whether a landlord acts on their own behalf or via a corporate body.
What offences might prompt an application for a banning order?
The following offences are capable of triggering an application for a banning order as they are banning order offences:
Any offence involving:
- the production, possession or supply of illegal drugs
- violent and sexual offences
will be appropriate banning order offences subject to there being a link between the property being rented out and/or the tenant/household.
The offences below (subject to there being a link between the property being rented out and/or the tenant/household) are also on the list of banning order offences:
- An offence under sections 327-329 Proceeds of Crime Act 2002.
- An offence under sections 2 or 2A Protection from Harassment Act 1997.
- An offence under sections 30 or 48 Anti-social behaviour, crime and Policing Act 2014.
- An offence under sections 7, 9, 21 or 22 Theft Act 1968.
- An offence under sections 1(1) or 2 Criminal Damage Act 1971.
- Illegally evicting or harassing a residential occupier in contravention of the Protection from Eviction Act 1977 or the Criminal Law Act 1977.
Offences under the Housing Act 2004 that will trigger banning orders
Unsurprisingly, any of the following offences under the Housing Act 2004 are also relevant offences for banning orders:
Failure to comply with an Improvement Notice
Offences in relation to licensing of Houses in Multiple Occupation (HMOs);
Offences in relation to licensing of houses under Part 3 of the Act;
Allowing a HMO that is not subject to licensing to become overcrowded;
Providing false or misleading information.
Failure to comply with management regulations in respect of HMOs;
An offence under the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974 where a person contravenes section 36 of the Gas Safety (Installation and Use) Regulations 1998;
Failure to comply with a Prohibition or Emergency Prohibition Order under sections 20, 21 and 43 of the Housing Act 2004;
An offence under section 32 of the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005.
Can a landlord argue against the making of a banning order?
There are the following protections for landlords facing applications for banning orders:
Before applying for a banning order the authority must give the person a notice of intended proceedings. This notice will inform the landlord that the authority is proposing to apply for a banning order and explain why.
The notice will also stating the length of each proposed ban, and invite the person to make representations within a period specified in the notice of not less than 28 days.
Once the notice has been issued, there are the following obligations:
- The authority must consider any representations made during the notice period.
- The authority must wait until the notice period has ended before applying for a banning order.
A notice of intended proceedings may not be given after the end of a period of 6 months. This period begins with the day on which the person was convicted of the offence to which the notice relates.
What happens if a landlord breaches the banning order?
Breach of a banning order is a criminal offence. It carries up to six months imprisonment and an unlimited fine. It is also highly likely that confiscation proceedings under the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002 will follow to recover income derived in breach of banning orders.
How we can help you as a landlord
This type of law illustrates perfectly the often-hidden consequences of a criminal conviction. To represent people properly, it is not enough that a solicitor understands only the main offence. Any solicitor you choose will need a wider appreciation of the effects on a defendant. Once these are understood, they will be fully considered during the planning of your defence. As a result, it may not be the solicitor who handles a landlord’s property matters who is best placed to handle a criminal investigation.
Our highly experienced team can assist you in navigating the initial criminal proceedings that can give rise to the banning order application. We also understand confiscation proceedings and skilled in the practice of negotiation with public bodies.
As a result, we will help you work towards the most favourable resolution in your case.
Contact crime and regulatory solicitor Martin Hadley
Contact crime and regulatory solicitor Martin Hadley on 0115 9599550. Alternatively you can use the contact form below. You will then be able to discuss any allegations of criminal conduct arising out of your business as a landlord.
We will be able to provide you with free and independent legal advice if you are interviewed by the police, whether as a volunteer or under arrest. This is because be have a contract with the government to provide criminal legal aid.
Martin will discuss with you your options for funding any interview with the local authority or court proceedings.
Monthly Archives: February 2018
It is possible to appeal against a Crown Court sentence to the Court of Appeal. The appeal process can be complicated depending on the individual case, so this article can only ever outline the basics of the appeal process.
You should know the range of sentences likely in your case
In cases that we deal with on behalf of clients facing Crown Court proceedings we will have ensured that all of our clients are given an early indication of the likely sentence range. This advice will include the potential sentence depending on whether there is a guilty plea or conviction after trial.
In some cases we will be able to be relatively precise as to what might be expected. In others cases, however, the range can be quite broad. In some rare cases it can be ‘anyone’s guess’ only because the case is so unique. Generally speaking, mainly where there are sentencing guidelines in place, we are very good at preparing our clients for the likely outcome.
Unfortunately, things do not always go to plan. For example, evidence may change during the case making it a lot more serious than originally thought. Of course, some clients receive the benefit of the evidence changing in a way that favours them. Sometimes the Judge may take a different view of the case, or, and this happens despite what appear to be clear sentencing guidelines, the Judge falls into error and makes a mistake when sentencing.
First steps in an appeal against a sentence
In all cases, following sentence, there should be clear advice on appeal. This will normally be given verbally, but you can have it in writing if you request that. In more complex cases it is usual for the advocate to set out in writing why an appeal is or is not appropriate.
If your Crown Court advocate is able to provide a positive advice on appeal, then you will have the opportunity to discuss that with us. We will hen take the necessary next steps on your behalf.
In cases where an appeal is not thought to be viable, again we will provide full advice to ensure that you understand the reasons for this decision.
What are the grounds for appeal against a Crown Court sentence?
There are, perhaps surprisingly, thirteen distinct grounds for appeal. They break down conveniently into two broad labels. For the Court of Appeal to intervene the Crown Court sentence must be either
- Wrong in principle; or,
- Manifestly excessive
All appeals are considered initially by a Single Judge. They will decide whether the case appears to have merit or not. If that Judge refuses leave to appeal on the basis that they believe the case is not properly arguable we will discuss the next steps with you.
If I am told not to appeal against a Crown Court sentence, can I ignore that advice?
A person can chose to ignore the advice received. Any such decision should be discussed with us in advance because there are risks in proceeding with an appeal that is without merit.
The Court of Appeal can impose costs. In some cases it will also make a ‘loss of time direction’. This means that a release from prison at the end of any sentence will be delayed. This is delay is often in the region of 14 to 42 days.
How long will the appeal take?
The length of time will depend on the complexity of the case and the listing requirements of the court. Priority is also likely to be given to those facing shorter sentences that can be successfully appealed. In some cases where a person has received a short prison sentence, there is a procedure to expedite an appeal. In some cases, these can be heard within a few days.
Aside from such cases, appeals against a Crown Court sentence will be typically heard within six months of being lodged with the court.
Can I get bail pending an appeal against a Crown Court Sentence?
Bail is seldom granted in cases before the Court of Appeal. The usual remedy to any injustice is for the Court to expedite the appeal hearing in cases where this approach is merited.
Where will the appeal be heard?
Most appeals are held at the Court of Appeal in London, although occasionally the court sits at regional Crown Court centres. If you are in custody, you will typically be present via video-link, or if on bail you can attend the hearing in person.
Court of Appeal judges will hear the case, and you will be represented by an advocate at the hearing. In some cases, the prosecution is also present, but not always.
When will I find out the result of my appeal?
In most cases, the result is announced at the end of the hearing. If complex issues are involved, then the decision might take a few weeks longer.
If I wasn’t represented by VHS Fletchers can you advise on appeal?
The simple answer is ‘Yes’. We would be happy to discuss your case. In some cases, legal aid will be available for the provision of this advice. This will be subject to a means and merits test.
Contact a Criminal Law Specialist
Alternatively, use the contact form below.