Chesterfield Criminal Defence Solicitor Secures Suspended Sentence
Chesterfield criminal defence solicitor Serena Simpson recently defended a client before Chesterfield Magistrates Court. The charges were allegations of domestic violence directed to a former partner.
The offences included an allegation of assault occasioning actual bodily harm (ABH) where she had stabbed the victim to the arm and chest with a knife. In addition it was alleged that Serena’s client had followed the male and further assaulted him by punching him to the face.
Serena first met her client when she had been refused bail by the police. She was detained in the cells to be put before the court for a remand to prison custody.
On meeting the client, Serena immediately realised that she was a vulnerable adult herself. She provided a history of domestic violence directed against her by the complainant in this case.
Offence on Bail
Serena’s client admitted that due to this prolonged abuse she had picked up a knife and stabbed her violent partner. She had then turned herself in to the police. She accepted that while on police bail she had seen the victim. Although he had followed her, she had slapped him to the face. There was a further minor public order offence that was denied.
The Prosecution suggested an alternative version in respect of the second allegation. It was claimed that Serena’s client had followed the victim and punched him rather than slapped him.
Newton Hearing Listed
Serena’s client pleaded guilty to both assaults. As she disputed the extent of the allegations she put forward her account in a written ‘basis of plea’. Her account was not accepted by the prosecution. As the Court felt it would make a real difference to sentence the case was listed for a hearing to decide whether our client’s version of events was correct. This is a trial of issue or a ‘Newton Hearing’.
Serena successfully argued for bail for her client. She then undertook the preparation for the contested hearing. It became clear as the hearing the ex-partner did not want to attend court and give evidence.
Serena was keen to bring the case to an end as soon as possible as from meeting with her client it was clear that the ordeal of court proceedings was having an adverse effect on her.
Active Case Management
The case was listed for a case progression hearing at Serena’s request to ascertain whether the hearing was going to be effective in due course. The prosecution was unable to make a decision until a week before the trial when it confirmed that a hearing was no longer sought and Serena’s client could be sentenced on her version of events. Further, the public order allegation was dropped.
The case was not yet over, however. Serena had to prepare for a difficult sentencing hearing as whatever the background her client had still admitted stabbing her ex-partner.
Starting Point of 18 Months?
Sentencing guidelines govern an allegation of ABH. The prosecution argued that this case fell into the most serious band, and the starting point for any sentence ought to be 18 months imprisonment within a range of 1 to 3 years. Her case was likely to be committed to the Crown Court for sentence even with discount for plea.
Serena provided mitigation to the court outlining the history of the relationship, including the violence directed at her client, and other elements of personal mitigation. Serena persuaded the District Judge that the case did not fall into the top level of seriousness. As a result, Serena’s client was able to receive a sentence of 16 weeks suspended for 2 years with a rehabilitation element.
The Judge made it clear that Serena’s mitigation had persuaded him to take this unusual course of action in a case involving knife crime.
Serena’s client was understandably delighted.
Legal Aid Funding
Our client had the benefit of legal aid. This allowed her to instruct Chesterfield criminal defence solicitor Serena Simpson. This advice and representation was free of charge to her. Further information about funding can be found here.
Contact a Chesterfield Criminal Defence Solicitor
If you are investigated by the police or are at court you may wish to instruct Chesterfield criminal defence solicitors VHS Fletchers. Please telephone us at our Chesterfield office 01246 283000 or use the contact form below.