Local newspapers will often publicise cases that have been before local Magistrates’ Courts. It will often seem that the sentences handed out in some cases are entirely disproportionate to the offences that vulnerable defendants have been convicted of. This may be due to circumstances that we are unaware of, or because of a particularly harsh sentencing bench, or because the defendants appeared unrepresented before the court.
Such severe sentences are not inevitable. At a recent Saturday morning court, Nottingham partner and crime solicitor Nick Walsh was able to secure constructive disposals for two of his vulnerable clients.
Serial shop lifter receives conditional discharge
Nick’s first client was charged with five shop thefts with a total value of £760. The evidence was strong and he had made admissions with the benefit of our free and independent legal advice in police interview.
He had a long history of offending and had been to prison four times in the last two years. He had only been released from custody shortly before the new offending.
Due to his vulnerabilities he was very volatile when Nick spoke to him. He was a long standing client of Nottingham crime solicitor Graham Heathcote and initially only wanted Graham to represent him. At one stage he intended to go into court unrepresented if Graham could not deal with his case.
Nick’s manner is such that he was able to calm him down and take instructions about the miserable circumstances that he had endured since release from prison. He had remained homeless, and as a result of sleeping rough had suffered abuse and assaults.
Despite the number of offences and his record of convictions Nick was able to persuade the Magistrates to deal with him by way of a conditional discharge.
Vulnerable drug user sentenced to community order
She had received two custodial sentences for thefts within the nine months prior to this offending. Before that she had the benefit of other community orders that involved Drug Rehabilitation Requirements. All of these interventions had failed.
Our client had been kept for court as the police refused bail, believing that she would fail to attend court or commit further offences if bailed.
Fortunately Nick was able to speak with the duty probation officer. As a result of that discussion, Nick was able to mitigate and persuade the Magistrates that his client ought to be given a further opportunity to comply with a community order. A further Drug Rehabilitation Requirement was imposed without the need for a pre-sentence report from the probation service.
Choose the right solicitor for your case
As we have a contract with the government to permit us to provide expert legal advice and representation under the legal aid scheme. This means that our advice in the police station will always be free of charge to you in the police station.
Many of our vulnerable clients will be also be entitled to legal aid in the Magistrates’ Court. Nearly all will be eligible for legal aid to ensure representation for cases before the Crown Court.
In the cases at the police station or the courts set out above, all of our clients had the benefit of free legal advice.
Our solicitors regularly deal with the most vulnerable clients within our community.
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