Tag Archives: expert

Dangerous dog prosecutions – avoiding the destruction of your dog

dangerous dog prosecutionsIt is often said that there is no such thing as a dangerous dog, only a dangerous owner.  While the criminal law often refers to a ‘dangerous dog’,  the offences pursued in dangerous dog prosecutions relate to a dog being ‘dangerously out of control’.

Section 10 of the Dangerous Dogs Act 1991 states that:

‘a dog shall be regarded as dangerously out of control on any occasion on which there are grounds for reasonable apprehension that it will injure any person (or assistance dog), whether or not it actually does so.’


The penalties for ‘dangerous dog’ offences are severe.  They include  imprisonment of up to 14 years where death is caused.  What is is not often understood is that an offence may lead to the destruction of the dog as well.

A discretion to order destruction?

In relation to some offences the court may order destruction.  In others, the court must order destruction unless assured (by imposing strict conditions) that the dog would not constitute a danger to public safety.

When deciding whether a dog would constitute a danger to public safety, the court—

(a) must consider—

(i) the temperament of the dog and its past behaviour, and

(ii) whether the owner of the dog, or the person for the time being in charge of it, is a fit and proper person to be in charge of the dog, and

(b) may consider any other relevant circumstances.

Avoiding Destruction of a ‘dangerous dog’

defending dangerous dog prosecutionsIn all cases where a court is considering destruction, attention must be drawn to the court’s power to order instead ‘contingent destruction’.  This will prevent the dog’s destruction provided that the conditions imposed are met.

The key case in dangerous dog prosecutions remains R v Flack [2008] EWCA Crim 204 where the following criteria were established:

“The relevant principles that can be made in respect of a dog whose owner has been convicted under section 3(1) of the 1991 Act of failing to keep a dog under control in a public place are that:

(1) The court is empowered under section 4(1) of the 1991 Act to order the destruction of the dog.

(2) Nothing in that provision shall require the court to order destruction if the court is satisfied that the dog would not constitute a danger to public safety: section 4(1)(a) of the 1991 Act.

(3) The court should ordinarily consider, before ordering immediate destruction, whether to exercise the power under section 4A(4) of the 1991 Act to order that, unless the owner of the dog keeps it under proper control, the dog shall be destroyed (“a suspended order of destruction”).

(4) A suspended order of destruction under that provision may specify the measures to be taken by the owner for keeping the dog under control whether by muzzling, keeping it on a lead, or excluding it from a specified place or otherwise: see section 4(a)(5) of the 1991 Act.

(5) A court should not order destruction if satisfied that the imposition of such a condition would mean the dog would not constitute a danger to public safety.

(6) In deciding what order to make, the court must consider all the relevant circumstances which include the dog’s history of aggressive behaviour and the owner’s history of controlling the dog concerned in order to determine what order should be made.”

What we can do to help

It is unlikely that legal argument alone will suffice to convince a court to order contingent destruction. In almost all dangerous dog prosecutions you will need the assistance of an expert in dog behaviour, alongside expert advocacy. We can arrange for the preparation of suitable expert reports and provide the advocacy for you.

Instruct an expert in defending dangerous dog prosecutions

If you are facing criminal proceedings that relate to an allegedly dangerous dog then please contact us as soon as possible. Our solicitors are well versed in this aspect of the law and will ensure your best defence is put forward before the court.

This will also include the best argument possible to ensure that your dog is not destroyed.

You can find your nearest office here to seek our specialist advice. 

defending dangerous dog prosecutions solicitors
Our offices across the East Midlands

Alternatively, you can use the contact form below.



Expert Firearms Team at Wolverhampton Court

expert firearms team
Wolverhampton Crown Court

Senior Crown Court litigator Laura Clarson was responsible for the preparation of a case before Wolverhampton Crown Court recently.  She assembled an expert firearms team of barrister and witness. Her client was acquitted by a unanimous jury verdict following a trial lasting eight days.

Expert Firearms Team

Counsel Nick Doherty from Brudenell Chambers instructed to represent our client. He has a particular specialism in firearms law so was a perfect choice.  Laura also instructed firearms expert David Dyson to comment on the evidence as to whether live or blank ammunition was used.

Laura’s client had a licence to hold firearms.  He was charged with possession of a firearm with intent to cause fear of unlawful violence.  It was said that he fired live rounds of ammunition in the middle of the street in which he lived.

Bullet casings recovered from the scene together with evidence of an independent witness which supported this. Laura’s client maintained that no live rounds were discharged from the rifle and that he fired a single blank round in order to scare away two males. They were armed with a machete and a samurai sword.  They were threatening him and his sons with those weapons.

As a result, our client claimed that no unlawful violence was threatened.  He was acting in defence of himself and his family.

Mr Dyson, as a leading expert witness in the field of firearms, was called to give evidence as to the type of ammunition recovered. and was able to give independent opinion supportive of our client’s case.

Undisclosed Evidence

Laura had to actively pursue the prosecution for undisclosed evidence.  A witness had given information to the police that was helpful to her client.  This information had not been disclosed by the police because she wanted to remain anonymous.

Counsel was successful in arguing that her statement should be read to the jury in support of our client’s case.

Judge Dismissive of Defence

Despite direction from the judge that was very dismissive of our client’s case, the jury found him not guilty, presumably on the basis that his actions may have been reasonable in all of the circumstances of the case.

After trial, counsel commented that Laura was ‘a credit to the firm really fights for her clients’.

Contact Us

This case came to us through our consultant solicitor Andrew Broome who has a specialist knowledge of firearms law.  If you are charged with a firearms offence then you will need an expert firearms team to give you advice and representation then we will be able to help.

Please contact Laura on 0115 9599550 or Andrew on 0115 9441233.  Alternatively, they can be emailed here.

Nottingham Crown Court Acquittal

Senior Crown Court Litigator Laura Clarson recently worked with Nick Jones, a barrister from 5 St Andrew’s Hill Chambers, at Nottingham Crown Court to secure an acquittal for her client.

Serious Violent Offence at Nottingham Crown Court

Laura’s client was charged with another accused of causing grievous bodily harm with intent.  The allegation was that the complainant had been assaulted with a weapon, probably a bat, as a result of his unwanted attentions in relation to our client’s mother.

The injuries involved fractures to the complainant’s face.  Blood had been lost by the complainant.  It was the prosecution’s contention that this blood evidence could make a jury sure that Laura’s client had been one of those who took part in the attack.

A favourable outcome to the case was extremely important to her client, not least because the Sentencing Guidelines for this offence suggested that if convicted he could expect to receive a sentence that would start at 6 years in prison.

Nottingham Crown Court

The case required careful preparation.  The witness had no recollection of the incident which led to his injuries.  They were of such severity, however, that he must have been subject to a serious assault.  Although Laura’s client was now asserting that he had not taken part in the assault, he had not told the truth to the police during the early stages of the investigation.

Expert Evidence

The Crown maintained that it’s expert analysis of the blood evidence was decisive and claimed that if would offer the jury no alternative but to conclude that Laura’s client had been involved.

As soon as the blood evidence was disclosed, Laura instructed a respected expert, Gillian Leak of Principal Forensic Service to provide a report on behalf of her client.

Despite early service of these conclusions and the seniority and experience of our expert the Crown proved intransigent in relation to the case.  There was resistance to an early conference between experts to find points of common ground.  It transpired during the course of these negotiations that the Crown expert had not been given the entirety of the Crown case in order to further review his findings.

Although it was clear to Laura in March 2016 that the Crown’s view of the blood evidence would be unsustainable at trial, the prosecution continued nonetheless.  Problems in the complainant’s case were highlighted during cross-examination.  Most importantly, the Crown expert conceded many points in our client’s favour during questioning.

Nottingham Crown CourtBelatedly, the Crown saw reason dropped the case against Laura’s client half way through the trial at Nottingham Crown Court and he was found not guilty.  This was six months after Laura had served the evidence and made representations about the wisdom of the prosecution.

Contact Us

Crown Court cases are often complicated and steps will need to be taken to challenge what at first glance appears to be conclusive evidence.  Please contact Laura if you have a case before Nottingham Crown Court on 0115 9599550 or email her here.  Alternatively, find your closest office here.