Derby solicitor advocate William Bennett and senior crown court litigator Sarah Lees-Collier worked together to secure a favourable sentence for their client before Nottingham Crown Court who faced serious drug offences.
Negotiation secured a favourable basis of plea and sentence.
Crown court trial for serious drug offences
Our client faced trial with four others for drug offences. She was charged with conspiracy to supply cannabis. A large amount of cannabis had been found in three houses and the boot of a car. All defendants were connected by a family relationship.
Specifically, our client was said to have helped with the growing of the cannabis as well as the onward supply. Although our client accepted growing cannabis she maintained that this was for her own use. It was medicinal as she suffered from severe arthritis. Sarah obtained a medical report from her doctor to back up this assertion.
Unfortunately, the prosecution was not prepared to accept what she had said. They maintained that she had a key role in what was a substantial conspiracy. The case was listed for a ten day trial for all defendants including our client.
On the morning of trial there was movement on behalf of both our client and the prosecution. She was prepared to accept involvement on the basis that her house had been used to grow the cannabis. her route into cannabis use and this offending remained the same – her illness.
As a result of these negotiations the court was able to sentence our client far more leniently that would otherwise have been the case. Despite her late plea, William persuaded the judge to impose a sentence of only four months but suspend it. As a result, as long as our client complies with the community element of the order and does not commit further offences then she will not have to serve the sentence.
Basis of plea and sentencing guidelines
The basis upon which our clients are sentenced will always be very important. This is particularly true in cases involving drug supply as the sentencing guidelines can be particularly unforgiving.
For example, whether you have a significant or leading role in a relatively small scale operation supplying cannabis can make a difference of three years to the starting point for sentence.
In this particular case, because of the guidelines, the starting point for the judge in considering sentence would have been twelve months. Bearing in mind the lateness of the plea, William was able to persuade the judge to reduce the sentence dramatically to the sentence finally imposed.
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