Chesterfield Solicitor’s Persistence
Chesterfield solicitor Ben Strelley was instructed by a 15 year old client appearing before Chesterfield Youth Court. The client faced an allegation of being drunk and disorderly in a public place. Upon being spoken to by the police it was said that he then assaulted two police officers. He had not been in trouble with the police before.
Ben’s client had chosen not to have a solicitor with him when he was interviewed by the police. As a result of not receiving early advice on the strength of the evidence he had not accepted the statements of the police when interviewed. He had therefore been charged rather than consideration be given to an out of court disposal.
Upon taking instructions at court, Ben identified that his client was not disputing the account given by the police. The reality was that he was so drunk that he could not remember what had happened and had no reason to challenge the allegations.
In those circumstance, Ben felt it appropriate to argue that the matter should be referred back to the police for consideration of an alternative disposal. Despite the pressure from the court and prosecution to make progress by way of a guilty plea, Ben was able to persuade the court that the adjournment should be granted and detailed written representations were made straight away.
Unfortunately, as is often the case, when the matter was back before the court the prosecution claimed that the client was not eligible for an alternative disposal, although no reasons why were give. Again, in the face of pressure from the prosecution, Ben made a compelling argument for a further adjournment which was granted.
Ben correctly identified the relevant issues and fought on behalf of his client in a climate where pressure is always on the solicitor and client to make progress and not delay matters. Ultimately his persistence paid off and the client was placed on an intervention program under the supervision of the Chesterfield Youth Offending Team and all of the charges were withdrawn.
Ben’s client also had the benefit of being represented under the legal aid scheme which means that the advice and representation received was free of charge to him. Had the client chosen to have Ben’s representation in the police station as well this outcome could have been achieved earlier, again with the benefit of free legal aid.