Tag Archives: guilty plea

Chesterfield solicitor mitigates in drink drive case

With Christmas fast approaching the yearly anti-drink driving campaigns will soon be splashed across TV, Radio and Social Media.  You can find more information about that here, but we simply repeat the advice relating to drink drive:

  • the easiest way to avoid problems is not to take any alcohol before you drive
  • be very careful the next morning and consider public transport if you have been drinking the night before.

drink drive legal aid solicitor ChesterfieldWe know, despite people being aware of the advice.  people still make mistakes.  In most cases this involves a momentary lapse in judgement from a person who has never been in trouble with the police before.  A conviction for drink driving can have a serious impact on an individual and have a very real effect on their life.

We will  try our best to minimise this impact where possible.  This might be by fighting the allegation at trial or putting forward effective mitigation on sentence.

Chesterfield Criminal Solicitor David Gittins is regularly before Chesterfield Magistrates Court representing his clients in such cases.  He  was recently instructed by a client who had been involved in an accident whilst drink driving.  As a result he faced a custodial sentence. Due to David’s assistance his client was able to avoid a prison sentence.

The Allegation

legal aid drink drive solicitor chesterfieldDavid’s client had been charged with drink driving following a road traffic incident.  She had driven into the rear of a vehicle before driving off.  She was followed home by a member of the public who had realised she was drunk.  As a result the police were called.

David’s client had very little recollection of the incident.  In police interview she accepted the evidence and because of this made admissions in interview.

She was found to have been just below three times the legal limit to drive.  Being aware of the position she had placed herself in, she chose to instruct David before here first court appearance.  As a result, David was able to give early advice and prepare the case in time for the hearing.  Part of that advice was to remind his client that there would be credit for an early guilty plea.  This is a reduction in the final sentence imposed.

Our client was a mother holding down two jobs to provide for her family.  As a result, she was understandably upset about the risk of a prison sentence.

The Sentence

drink drive solicitor Chesterfield legal aidFollowing his client’s guilty plea to drink driving, David mitigated on her behalf.  He was able to focus on the positive elements of his client’s character and future.  Although an immediate prison sentence was a possibility, David argued that these positive aspects of mitigation meant that she could retain her liberty.

David’s client was received a Suspended Sentence Order for this drink drive offence because of this mitigation.  This meant that provided she adhered to a curfew and undertook unpaid work in the community she would not be sent to prison.  She also received the mandatory disqualification from driving.

Free legal aid in the Magistrates’ Court for this drink drive case

legal aid solicitor for drink drive caseDue to the serious nature of this case and the real risk of prison and therefore loss of livelihood, free Magistrates’ Court legal aid was available.   for the Defendant meaning all of David’s representation was free of charge.

Instruct a Chesterfield Motoring Law expert

Whether you face a police investigation for a road traffic offence or have court proceedings pending you will wish to instruct an expert motoring law solicitor.  Please contact David at our Chesterfield office on 01246 283000.

legal aid solicitor for drink drive case

Alternatively, you can contact a solicitor at one of out other five offices across the East Midlands or use the contact form below.


Remorse, regret and credit for your guilty plea

In matters being investigated by the police or before the criminal courts it is sometimes the case that a simple act of contrition, genuinely felt and communicated, can alter a case outcome significantly.

For example, a timely admission and expression of sorrow can make the difference between a formal resolution, such as caution or charge or persuade the police to consider an out of court community resolution.

Credit for your guilty plea will attract the automatic discount on sentence, but it is a demonstration of genuine regret and remorse that may make all the difference.

Remorse might open the door to restorative justice

regret remorse credit for your guilty pleaRestorative justice is now a popular out of court disposal.  Such a resolution is preferable to almost all other outcomes when guilt is not in doubt. Research shows that the process can benefit both the victim and the offender.

Other out of court disposals such as driver awareness courses can also have an impact on an offender.  This will particularly be the case where a defendant is willing to address their behaviour.  Few participants will leave the course undisturbed by the graphic images of a child hit by a speeding vehicle.

In court, it can sway a bench in some cases to impose a more lenient punishment, so because of this we always work with clients to ensure mitigation is advanced adequately at all stages.

Of course, sorry in itself might not mean much, what are you sorry for?  Is it for being caught?  Or is it because you find yourself before a court?  Could it be more than that and therefore does it amount to genuine remorse?

Genuine remorse and sentencing guidelines

credit for your guilty pleaThis is an important question in sentencing terms because ‘genuine remorse’ is a mitigating factor in almost all sentencing guidelines and can make a substantial difference to the outcome.

The Oxford English Dictionary defines remorse as being:

‘A feeling of compunction, or of deep regret and repentance for a sin or wrong committed.’

A court will, however, be looking only for genuine remorse, and it is far from being a scientific exercise.

What does the Sentencing Council have to say?

The Sentencing Council commented on this as follows:

“This factor appears in all Sentencing Council guidelines and is one that sentencers are adept at assessing. Sentencers sitting in court on a daily basis are alive to the ease with which ‘sorry’ can be said but not meant. Evidence obtained during the course of interviews with judges (during the consultation process) confirmed the way in which judges carry out this assessment; often the judges used phrases in conversation with us such as ‘genuinely remorseful’, ‘genuine remorse’ and ‘true remorse’. This confirms the Council’s view that the consideration of remorse is nuanced, and that all the circumstances of the case will be considered by the sentencing in deciding whether any expressed remorse is in fact genuine.”

Not just credit for your guilty plea

In a recent lecture, a High Court Judge offered up these examples to illustrate genuine remorse:

• Deliberate withdrawal from an on-going criminal enterprise.

• Removing oneself from criminal associates or the sources of temptation.

• Behaviour immediately after the offence such as obtaining medical aid.

• Voluntary surrender and confession to the police.

• Efforts to reform by way of, e.g. drug-rehabilitation or alcohol withdrawal programmes.

• Return to education.

• Assistance to the authorities in combating crime.

• Voluntary restitution, payment of compensation without order from the court or restoring damaged property.

Less objective examples (but commonly seen) include:

• Expressions of remorse in police interviews after arrest.

• The impression of genuine remorse given to a probation officer, psychiatrist or psychologist when being interviewed for the purpose of preparing a report for the court before sentencing.

• Letters of apology written by offenders to victims or the court

How can we assist? Contact a criminal defence lawyer now.

It is our job when representing clients to ensure that the best case is put forward.  You will want this to go beyond the usual mitigation offered by the credit for your guilty plea.  This should involve other aspects of your character that might shine a light on your true self.

People make mistakes, sometimes serious ones, but rarely does that alone define the real person.  We believe that carefully presented mitigation makes a real difference to the outcome of criminal cases.

We are experienced in approaching family, friends, employers and other community figures for reference letters on your behalf.  The information that we request will make sure we build on the credit for your guilty plea because of this experience.

credit for your guilty plea
Our offices across the East Midlands

Please contact your nearest office here or alternatively use the contact form below.