Crown Prosecution Service – CPS – allegations involving charges where, upon conviction, a client is expected to receive a prison sentence of more than six months are regularly allocated to the Crown Court to be dealt with. Bearing in mind the pressures on the court system this can lead to a long delay between charge and trial, on top of any delay between arrest and first appearance at the Magistrates’ Court.
We recognise that these delays can be a worry to all of our clients, but we try to mitigate this by showing that we are using this time to effectively prepare the defence case. Our firm has a team of specialist Crown Court Litigators who deal with these serious cases.
Early preparation will always involve taking a client’s full instructions on the evidence. It may involve taking statements from additional witnesses, seeking character evidence or pursuing expert reports.
A recent case shows how it may be unwise to take prosecution expert evidence at face value, particularly when it is in the form of medical ‘evidence’ in an abbreviated prosecution file.
Ruth Campbell, a senior Crown Court litigator based in our Chesterfield Office, represented a client accused of assaulting his partner. The allegation was one of s20 Offences Against the Person Act 1864, or grievous boldily harm.
The alleged victim claimed that she had suffered a broken arm as a result of an unlawful assault. Ruth’s client maintained that he had only ever acted in self-defence. Instead he maintained that he himself had been the victim of an attack by his partner. He claimed that she had lunged at him with a knife and he had twisted her arm to protect himself. He did not believe that his actions could have caused her to suffer a broken arm.
As a result, and at an early stage, it was suggested to the prosecution that the injury was not consistent with the description of the incident as set out by the complainant. This contention was set out in the client’s defence statement leading the Judge, when our client entered a not guilty plea, to request that the CPS serve additional medical evidence to clarify the position.
When these enquiries were concluded the additional evidence obtained demonstrated that the injury could not have been caused as alleged and showed that the complainant was not telling the truth. As this was evidence obtained by the CPS, it was accepted that the prosecution had no option but to drop the charge and a formal not guilty verdict was entered.
Experience meant that Ruth was able to listen to the client’s instructions, consider the evidence and know that the injury did not appear to support the facts as set out by the complainant. A potentially serious injury is not decisive evidence of a client’s guilt.
At VHS Fletchers your case will be dealt with by an appropriately qualified lawyer who will respect your instructions and prepare your case accordingly.
This client had the additional benefit of receiving legal aid which means that ultimately his case was free of charge to him. We will always investigate the most cost effective way for you to fight your case.
If you have any criminal matter which you wish to discuss with one of our team please contact your nearest office. If you wish to contact Ruth directly then telephone her on 01246 283000 or email her.