Suspended sentence for Grievous Bodily Harm at Chesterfield
Chesterfield Crime Solicitor David Gittins recently represented a young man before Chesterfield Magistrates Court. His client had been charged with the serious offence of section 20 Grievous Bodily Harm or GBH. It was alleged he had broken the jaw of the complainant.
The sentencing guidelines mean that such an offence will regularly carry a custodial sentence upon conviction. Furthermore, such cases will often be dealt with before the Crown Court.
In this case, David gave careful consideration to the guidelines and the facts. As a result he was able to convince the court not only to keep the case but also to impose an alternative to immediate custody.
Free police station advice and representation
Experienced Police Station Representative Rob Lowe first attended Chesterfield Police station with our client. This was some months before the matter finally came before the court.
Rob was able to provide free legal advice following arrest for grievous bodily harm. This was under the legal aid scheme. Such advice is not means tested so as a result will always be free of charge.
Having a legal representative in the police station is always important. Rob was able to secure information from the police about the incident. As a result the client knew in advance what the allegation was. Rob took our client’s instructions. He was then able to advise on the strength of the evidence.
The evidence was very strong as our client was named as the aggressor. Our client accepted that he was guilty of the offence. He then had a decision to make as to whether he would answer police questions or not.
Rob was able to explain that there is often something to be gained by answering police questions even where a person will accept guilt at court. In this case it was important that our client explain at the outset why he had acted as he did. It was an early opportunity for him to say how sorry he felt. This would help him gain maximum credit on sentence when the case reached court.
Late service of CCTV evidence (again)
When the matter was eventually charged David took over the management of the case to prepared the case for court. Although the entire incident was covered by CCTV this was not available until the day the case was first in court.
The footage was clear and showed our client punching the victim once to the face. He was knocked to the ground. Sadly the victim was left with a fractured jaw that needed surgery. The Prosecution was to argue that the case should be allocated to the Crown Court as the Magistrates’ sentencing powers were insufficient.
Representations on mode of trial and allocation
David was able to argue against that, relying on a number of factors:
- The CCTV footage showed his client breaking up a fight immediately before he threw the punch
- he walked off straight away
- there was a single punch so no follow up
- he was of good character
- he was only 18 at the time of the incident
- his early admission of guilty
The Magistrates were taken through the relevant sentencing guidelines in detail. As a result, despite prosecution representations, the Magistrates agreed the case could remain in their court. The case was adjourned in order that a pre-sentence could be obtained from the probation service.
Suspended sentence for Grievous Bodily Harm
When the matter returned to Court a week later the Probation service had prepared a report. Although prison remained an option, the report concluded that our client’s risk could be managed outside the prison system. As a result, any punishment could properly be within the community.
David’s powerful and reasoned mitigation led to his client receiving a twelve week sentence of imprisonment. This sentence would be suspended. This was combined with community elements and compensation.
As a result our client was understandably delighted. He realised just how close he had come to receiving an immediate prison sentence.
Contact a Chesterfield Criminal Defence Specialist
Without condoning violence, the outcome shows that with the right preparation a court can be persuaded to sentence on the basis of single mistake that will never be repeated. There is often flexibility within the guidelines to permit a sentence that properly reflects the mitigation available to a client.
However, you will only be able to secure the best result for you in the circumstances if you choose your legal representatives carefully.
If you face a police investigation or court proceedings for an offence such as Grievous Bodily Harm then you can contact David or Rob at our Chesterfield office on 01246 283000. Alternatively you can use the form below to email your enquiry to us.