Prison sentence avoided for breach of a suspended sentence order
Chesterfield Crime Solicitor Kevin Tomlinson had to use all of his experience and persuasive advocacy to ensure that his client did not receive a prison sentence after his breach of a suspended sentence order.
Kevin’s client was charged with nine offences. Five of these were committed whilst he was subject to a suspended sentence order. The law is such that if an offence is committed during the lifetime of a suspended sentence a court must activate the suspended sentence. The only opportunity a person will have to avoid this is where it is successfully argued that it would be unjust to do so.
It was perhaps the case that in the circumstances that Kevin’s client found himself in, custody would seem inevitable. In the event, Kevin managed to achieve for his client what at first seemed impossible.
Allegations in breach of a suspended sentence order
Kevin’s client had been arrested in relation to a number of thefts from shops. Perhaps unsurprisingly Kevin’s client was a drug user. The offences were committed over a period of time, but he was interviewed about them by the police in a single interview.
In interview, Kevin’s client accepted each offence. Because of his record the police had kept him for court on a Saturday morning. Kevin represented him when he pleaded guilty to all of the offences.
The court had insufficient information to allow our client to be sentenced at a Saturday court. As a result the case was adjourned until later in the week for the sentencing hearing. Unfortunately, our client was remanded into prison to await sentence.
The sentencing hearing
At the sentencing hearing, Kevin set about securing information to put before the court in a bid to convince them that it would be unjust to send his client to prison for breach of a suspended sentence and the new offences.
Kevin took all the information that he would need to provide the court with detailed personal mitigation. He took the time not to rush through this important part of the process, resisting pressure from the court for the case to be called on.
After taking these instructions, Kevin’s next port of call was the probation service. The probation staff confirmed that our client was progressing well on his suspended sentence order in terms of trying to tackle his drug use.
As a result, Kevin had enough helpful information to allow him to argue that his client should not receive an immediate prison sentence but should be given a further chance. This was a credible argument even though there was a breach of a suspended sentence order.
Prison sentence avoided
Kevin’s client was due to be sentenced before the resident District Judge at Chesterfield Magistrates’ Court. Following the prosecution opening and some information from the probation service, Kevin then addressed the Judge.
He argued at length on behalf of his client. Kevin relied upon the reasons behind the offending, some personal mitigation, the good progress under the order and the short period spend in prison before sentence. In conclusion he asked the Judge to decide that it would be unjust to impose the sentence for breach of a suspended sentence order.
After listening to this mitigation the District Judge agreed with Kevin. He decided to impose a sentence which allowed our to retain his freedom. Kevin’s client was understandably delighted with the outcome and relieved to not face a custodial sentence.
Free legal aid funding in the Magistrates’ Court
Our client had the benefit of legal aid. for these hearings in the Magistrates’ Court. This means that our advice and representation of him was free of charge to him.
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