Tag Archives: crime

Public Nuisance – or Not?


Nottingham crime solicitor Lauren Fisher recently dealt with an unusual case of before Nottingham Magistrates’ Court.  Her client was charged with an offence of public nuisance.

Allegation of Public Nuisance

public nuisance nottingham crime solicitor
Nottingham Magistrates’ Court

Lauren’s client was an elderly gentleman who was said to have been visiting shops with his trousers open, thus exposing himself.  The police and prosecution had apparently been in no hurry to bring the matter to court.  The offence dated back to the summer of 2015, and proceedings were not commenced by summons until the following June.

Our client presented as vulnerable.  He suffered from both mental illness and learning disabilities.  Representations were made on several occasions that it was not in the public interest for the prosecution to continue, but they fell on deaf ears.

This failure to heed these representations was all the more unfortunate when Lauren prepared the case for trial following service of all of the evidence.  Detailed legal research led to a concern that the evidence even taken at its highest could not prove the case.

Lauren’s client was said to have gone into two shops, one after the other. The Crown relied on this to show it was not an “accident”.  He was said to have been told to ‘put it away’ in one shop before going into the second shop still exposed.

Delay Causes Prosecution Problems

It was at this stage, however, that the delay created by the police in investigating the matter created problems for the prosecution.  The witness in the first show was unable to give the date the incident occurred, or even the day of the week.  At most she could say that it had happened in August.

The police had failed to hold any form of identification procedure, so witnesses were not given the opportunity to say whether Lauren’s client was the man seen with his trousers undone.

The lack of evidence to show that our client had been warned of his conduct immediately before a visit to a second shop significantly undermined the a suggestion that his behaviour was deliberate.  The fact that there were only two shop workers in the second shop was arguably insufficient to show a ‘public’ nuisance.

Renewed Representations

Unfortunately the health of Lauren’s client deteriorated over the course of the proceedings.  This led to the need for a psychiatric report to be obtained.  As an alternative to that considerable expense to the public purse, Lauren renewed the representations to the prosecution, combining factors relating to the health of her client with the likelihood of a successful outcome due to lack of evidence.  These representations were supplemented by service of a skeleton argument.

Successful Legal Argument

The matter was listed for a case management hearing and the legal argument was dealt with during that hearing as a preliminary point. The District Judge ruled that the prosecution would be unable to establish that it was Lauren’s client in the first shop on the same day, and that the behaviour gave established, as a matter of law, a public nuisance.

The prosecution offered no evidence and the charge against Lauren’s client was dismissed.

Contact Lauren Fisher

Cases alleging public nuisance may be rare, but Nottingham criminal solicitor advocate Lauren Fisher will show the same level of care whatever the allegation that you face.

If you are due to be interviewed by the police or face court proceedings then please telephone Lauren on 0115 9599550 or email her here.



Disqualified Driving Trial Success

Nottingham criminal solicitor Nick Walsh recently represented a client who was being prosecuted for disqualified driving on two separate occasions.  Once again the progress of this case illustrates that working within the prescriptive Criminal Procedure Rules can place responsibility for providing evidence firmly with the prosecution.  disqualified driving nottingham criminal solicitorIt is another case that shows the failings of the prosecution to provide this evidence.

Nick’s client had been disqualified from driving following a conviction for dangerous driving in 2008.  The disqualification was subject to the mandatory provision that he remain disqualified from driving until he passed an extended driving test.

He had never taken such a test. The prosecution sought to rely on the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) record to prove the fact of the disqualification. There was no issue that Nick’s client was the person who was disqualified or that he was driving on the occasions alleged.

Disqualified Driving

Nick’s client informed him that a search of his driver record held with the DVLA showed that the disqualification had been removed. Nick carried out an identical search.  The result was a statement that the disqualification had been removed in 2012.

Pro-active Case Management

disqualified driving trial success
Nottingham Magistrates’ Court

At his first appearance our client entered not guilty pleas.  Nick completed the case management form and clearly set out that the issue in the case was whether the disqualification had been removed.  Nick followed this with secure email contact suggesting the evidence that can be agreed.

Nick went further and repeated the relevant issue in correspondence – the prosecution would have to prove that his client remained disqualified from driving.

The prosecution did not respond to the request to agree evidence.  As a result Nick asked that the case be listed for a case management hearing where again the relevant evidential issues whereagain highlighted.

Crown Failed to Secure Admissable Evidence

On the day of trial the prosecution produced an email from the DVLA explaining that the reference to ‘removal’ meant removal from the public record only.  The information was not, however, provided in a form that could be placed in evidence before the court. driving whilst disqualified trial successThe prosecution applied to the court for an adjournment.  Bearing in mind the history of the case and Nick’s engagement with the case management procedure this application was refused.

The prosecution had had ample time to secure the evidence in an admissable form.  As a result the prosecution offered no evidence and Nick’s client was found not guilty of the two charges of disqualified driving.

Contact Nick Walsh

If you face allegations before the Magistrates’ Court and you wish to instruct and experienced solicitor who is capable of adapting to and taking advantage of the changes in case management then please contact Nick Walsh.  He can be telephoned on 0115 9599550 or email him here.

Special Reasons Avoid Drink Drive Ban

Mansfield crime solicitor Melanie Hoffman successfully argued special reasons so that her client did not receive a penalty or disqualification despite driving while over the legal limit.

Facts of the Case

Mel’s client had driven to his local pub to enjoy an evening with a friend.  This was a regular arrangement and he had every intention of walking home.

Instead of having a pleasant evening, he and his friend were assaulted in the pub by a group of strangers who entered the pub shortly before closing time.  They were heavily in drink and intent on causing further trouble and threats were made.

Upon leaving the pub, Mel’s client and his friend were again confronted by members of this group, who were by now brandishing tools as weapons.  He and his friend sought sanctuary in the works van, only for this to come under attack.

Some of  the group were able to open the passenger side door with a view to pulling the passenger from the van.  Mel’s client decided that despite having drunk alcohol, his only option was to drive the van off the pub car park.  He genuinely feared for his own and his friend’s safety.

Once on the road the van was pursued by the group who were running after the group and also going to vehicles.  As a result, our client had no alternative but to continued to drive in the direction of the local police station.  Whilst doing so  he called the police via his hands free kit to explain the situation.  The police station was unmanned so that the he needed to continue to drive,  ensuring that he kept in constant contact with the Police as he did so.

Eventually the pursuit came to an end and he was able to pull over and park the van,  knowing that the Police were in attendance to assist. The Police chose to carry out a breath test, which the Defendant failed. He was ultimately charged with a drink drive offence, despite what might have amounted to compelling public interest reasons to the contrary.

Special Reasons Identified

Special Reasons Drink Drive Mansfield
Mansfield Magistrates’ Court

Upon taking instructions from her client, Mel correctly advised him that a plea of guilty would have to be entered as he had driven on a public road whilst over the legal limit to do.  The Crown would not consider withdrawing proceedings.   He would be able, however, to put a special reasons argument before the court to seek to avoid punishment and a driving disqualification that would normally follow such a plea.

He would argue that he had only driven because he genuinely feared for the safety of himself and his friend, and a sober individual would have done the same in these circumstances.

To ensure that her client placed the best argument before the Magistrates, Mel:

  • took detailed statements from the friend and pub licensee
  • ensured that this evidence was agreed by the prosecution
  • played the 999 call made by her client to the court

At the court hearing, Mel’s client gave evidence on his own behalf, and by the conclusion of the case there could be no doubt that the facts were as he described.

The Magistrates found that special reasons did apply in this case.  He received an absolute discharge and no driving disqualification. There was no endorsement of the matter on his driving record and he did not have to pay any prosecution costs.

Contact Melanie Hoffman

It may be that if you are arrested for drinking and driving then you are interviewed by the police.  If so, it is vital that you seek our free and independent legal advice at that stage to make sure that you provide the detail that might provide you with a defence or special reasons to avoid a disqualification.

There are a number of other reasons why you should choose to instruct us at the police station.  They can be found here.

There are a limited number of special reasons that can be put forward to avoid a driving disqualification for a drink drive offence, so if we haven’t been at the police station you will want to instruct us for court proceedings.  We will always advise you about your entitlement to criminal legal aid for Magistrates’ Court representation.

Mel is currently on maternity leave, but if you are being investigated or face court proceedings then please contact her colleagues Tim Haines or Emma Cornel on 01623 675816 or use the contact form below:


Drink Drive Sentencing in Mansfield

Mansfield crime solicitor Tim Haines recently dealt with a drink drive sentence for a client who was nearly four times the legal limit to drive. Careful mitigation permitted the client to avoid what appeared to be an inevitable prison sentence.

Four Times the Drink Drive Limit

The background to the allegations was that Tim’s client had called an ambulance for his friend who had become unwell.  Unfortunately he chose to follow the ambulance in his own vehicle.  He was stopped by the police in the hospital grounds.  He provided a sample of 139 in breath at this time, following it up with a sample of 136 in breath at the police station.  The legal limit is 35.

Credit for Guilty Plea

On taking instructions, Tim advised the client as to the strength of the evidence and credit for a guilty plea.  As a result, the client entered a timely guilty plea.  He abandoned an intention to argue that his drink had been spiked.  The level of reading would, in effect, prohibit the success of such an argument.

drink drive criminal solicitor mansfield
Mansfield Magistrates’ Court

The reading meant that the Magistrates would be considering a custodial sentence, but this was also our client’s second conviction for drink driving within 5 years. His previous case had been dealt with by way of a community order due to that high reading.

He had been disqualified from driving for a significant period but had  successfully completed the drink drivers rehabilitation course thereby reducing that driving ban imposed by a quarter.

Although a prison sentence could easily have been justified for the current offence on the basis of current sentencing guidelines, bearing in mind the reading and the previous recent conviction, Tim was able to persuade the court to impose a suspended term of imprisonment with rehabilitation requirements attached.

Detailed and Careful Mitigation

Following the mitigation put by Tim, the Magistrates stressed that they had drawn back from an immediate prison sentence due to the detailed and careful mitigation advanced by Tim.  This recognised that the sentencing process should combine both punishment and the rehabilitation of offenders.

Tim’s client was understandably relieved following the sentencing hearing.

Contact Tim Haines

If you face criminal investigations or proceedings then please contact Tim Haines immediately on 01623 675816 or email him here..  He will advise you as to how best to proceed in order to secure the best result for you, whether at the police station, Magistrates’ or Crown Courts.

Dangerous Driving Acquittal

dangerous driving acquittal
Northallerton Magistrates’ Court

Nottingham crime solicitor Graham Heathcote recently had the pleasure of travelling to Northallerton Magistrates’ Court to represent a client for dangerous driving who he has represented at his two previous firms of solicitors.  The client chooses to have Graham represent him, presumably on the basis that he may well be able to work wonders with any case.  More of this below…

Dangerous Driving ended in flames?

Graham’s client faced an allegation of dangerous driving.  The allegation involved witnesses stating that he was undertaking, tailgating and attempting to manoeuvre between two moving vehicles in adjacent lanes.  The incident ended with his client’s vehicle off the road and in a field.  The vehicle had rolled onto him all but severing his arm.  The car then burst into flames.

Late Instructions

Graham’s client had such confidence in his abilities that he failed to keep four office appointments, finally attending the office 48 hours before the trial.   Graham only received the MG5, which is a summary of the allegation and the evidence, from the Crown Prosecution Service the day before the trial.  The actual witness statements were only served at 9.45a.m. on the morning of the trial. These included the accident investigation report.

All witnesses were in attendance and prepared to give evidence.  The court was in a position to hear the trial.  An offer of a plea to careless driving fell on deaf ears.

I Can’t Remember

Cross-examination of witnesses was limited as the client could not recall anything of the incident.  Although he gave evidence on his own behalf, that largely consisted of an admission of previous driving offences while asserting that the driving on this occasion didn’t sound like the way he would drive.

After being addressed on the burden and standard of proof, the law relating to dangerous driving and our client’s account the Magistrates found him not guilty of dangerous driving.  He was, however, found guilty of careless driving but kept his driving licence.

Contact Graham Heathcote

If you are denying a case and the evidence is somewhat stacked against you, you ought to telephone Graham on 0115 9599550 or email him here.

Cannabis Production Plea in Mansfield

Mansfield crime solicitor Tim Haines represented a client for an allegation of production of cannabis recently.  Although there were only 8 plants discovered, they were found in situ with a sophisticated hydroponic system, cash, mobile phones, scales and what the police alleged were dealer lists.

As is common, the police had sought a statement from a police expert who maintained that all of these items of evidence were important, and in combination he was sure that the client was involved in the commercial supply of cannabis.

VHS Fletchers Cannabis

If that was the case, the sentencing guidelines for production of cannabis would place the client as having a significant role in a category 3 offence.  This would mean that the starting point on sentence would be 12 months custody, within a range of 6 months to 3 years.

Tim took full instructions from his client.  These were that the client was a cannabis user himself, and although he accepted supply to others, this was only to a limited number of people who were his friends and also cannabis users.

These instructions were at odds with the Crown expert.  As a result, there was a risk that the client, even on entering a guilty plea, would end up before the Crown Court for a hearing to decide the basis on which he would be sentenced, and for eventual sentence.  This would add to the client’s understandable anxiety as the proceedings became protracted.

Tim’s experience and familiarity with such cases meant that he was able to engage in credible negotiations with the prosecutor.  He was able to persuade the prosecution to disregard the conclusion of its own expert, and instead to proceed to sentence on the basis of his client’s account.

Carefully prepared mitigation built on the concession by the Crown and Tim was able to persuade the Magistrates that the case could be kept in their court.  Instead of a custodial sentence, a community order with unpaid work was imposed.  Confiscation proceedings were not pursued.

Cannabis Production Mansfield Solicitor
Mansfield Magistrates Court

Tim was able to represent the client under the government funded legal aid scheme which means that his representation was free of charge to his client.

If you are to be interviewed by the police or face charges for drug related offences please contact your nearest office.  Alternatively you can email us here.  If you wish to speak to Tim directly then telephone 01623 675816 or email him here.

Derbyshire Solicitor Feedback

Recently we outlined details of a client’s case here where both a contested hearing and immediate custody were avoided.  Derbyshire Solicitor Advocate William Bennett and Senior Crown Court Litigator Ruth Campbell dealt with the case.

Our client has taken the time to complete our client feedback questionnaire and declared that she was ‘very satisfied’ with our overall level of service.  Our ‘excellent service’ needed no improvement.

Her comments were all the more pleasing as she had previously dealt with Banner Jones solicitors whose criminal staff and case load we took on in April 2015.

VHS Fletchers Crime Solicitors Chesterfield

She went on to say that VHS Fletchers would be a first choice of recommendation to anyone who would need an ‘excellent firm of solicitors’.

The form was not enough for the client to spell out the level of service she felt she received, and she continued on an additional sheet to set out that the help and advice of William and Ruth throughout the case was ‘extremely helpful and 100% brilliant’.  She remarked on Ruth’s compassion and understanding, and felt that without this support and advice she would have ‘crashed’.  Our help allowed her to ‘remain strong’.

Aside from being relieved about the outcome, our client is taking full advantage of all of the opportunities that the court sentence is affording her.  She is receiving excellent help from her probation officer, due to meet with Addaction, and has managed to cut her alcohol intake by half.

Derbyshire Solicitor Feedback

We will always welcome feedback. Positive feedback will show staff that they are doing things right, whereas constructive feedback will show us, as a firm, where we need to change to continue to improve the first class service that we try to give all of our clients.

If you have a case that you wish to discuss with a Derbyshire solicitor then please contact your most convenient office.  You can contact Ruth by email or William Bennett here.

Nottingham Solicitor Witness Request

Nottingham solicitor Louise Wright is investigating a case on behalf of a client.  Although Tesco stores in the local area have been very helpful and gone beyond what would be expected she has reached a dead end.

As a result she has taken the initiative with a view to making a plea for information through social media.

An incident occurred in the car park of the Tesco store, Carlton, Nottingham at approximately 5.45pm on the 7th July 2016. A member of Tesco staff intervened and questioned what was happening during that incident.

That member of staff may be able to provide crucial information.
They may or may not have worked at that particular store.
If anybody has information we are keen to speak to them. If you are the staff member in question or know who she is please make contact with Louise on 01159 599550 or email us here..
Any assistance will be appreciated.
UPDATE 10 August 2016
Thank you to all of those who shared the appeal.  Louise has been  successful in locating the witness and a statement has been taken helpful to her client.
VHS Fletchers Carlton Hill Tesco

Mansfield Solicitors Receive Praise

Our Mansfield solicitors received individual items of positive feedback from clients they have represented within the last week.

Melanie Hoffman assisted a client at trial who was charged with Assault Occasioning Actual bodily harm.  The allegation arose out of a long-standing neighbour dispute, and was said to have been a prolonged assault resulting in a fracture.

The trial involved cross-examination of three prosecution witnesses, all of whom gave evidence that Mel’s client had assaulted the complainant in various ways.  Careful preparation meant that Mel was able to highlight all of the inconsistencies between these  witnesses.  Mel was also able to highlight to the Magistrates and the prosecutor that the injuries were not supportive of a charge of causing Actual Bodily Harm.

As a result, although the client was found guilty of an allegation of common assault, he was found not guilty of the more serious charge.  Despite having had a trial, Melanie put forward mitigation that allowed the Magistrates to deal with her client by way of a financial penalty only.

Her client was very pleased as he provided a prompt and full testimonial , stating that Mel was ‘outstanding in Court today’.  He went on to say that of other Mansfield solicitors she was ‘the best solicitor I have ever come across’, maintaining that she was ‘tremendous’, fighting for him in court and secured ‘the best result’.

Separately, solicitor Tim Haines represented a client for a drink drive charge.  She was 3 1/2 times the legal limit to drive, and her driving resulted in a road traffic accident with a stationary car, leading to her own car being written off. Tim’s client had never appeared in court before.

Guidance for sentence in such cases is now easy to find.  The sentencing guidelines can be found here.  Tim’s client had researched the position and was understandably worried about the likelihood of a prison sentence.

Tim spent the time with the client that was needed to ensure she provided him with all of the mitigation relevant to her case.  It became clear that she was particularly vulnerable, and the offence reflected a culmination of various malign factors in her life.

Tim was able to ensure that the Magistrates fully understood the careful mitigation he put forward, and how if affected culpability and the likelihood of re-offending.  In the event, rather than receive a starting point sentence of 12 weeks’ custody, the court dealt with Tim’s client by way of a community order with a rehabilitation element only.  The inevitable disqualification could be reduced if the client undertook the relevant course.

Another prompt testimonial reflects well on Tim’s people skills as well as his advocacy – ‘I wanted to thank you for your support at court this morning. I realise you spend a lot of time in that environment but for me it was a first and last. You helped me through an extremely nerve-racking situation with professionalism and compassion and I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend you to any other person I know should they find themselves in a similar situation. Thank you again.’

Neither client was  financially eligible for Magistrates’ Court legal aid.  Both were able, however,  to afford to be represented by our Mansfield solicitors who made a difference to their cases by way of an agreed and affordable fixed fee.

Options for funding your case can be found here.

If you wish advice and representation for any criminal matter please contact your nearest office.  Mel can be contacted by email here and Tim can be contacted here.

VHS Fletchers Mansfield Office