Tag Archives: self defence

Why was Ben Stokes found not guilty?

Who is Ben Stokes?

Ben Stokes is the England cricketer who was charged with affray and acquitted by a jury.

But the video showed him hitting someone?

It did, his defence was that he was acting in self-defence, you can hit someone and still be not guilty of an offence in certain circumstances.

ben stokes not guilty

Why did the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) charge him then?

It is not for the CPS to decide whether or not a person is guilty, its role is to assess whether there is a reasonable prospect of conviction, if there is sufficient evidence to proceed and it is in the public interest to do so.

In this case, the issue was for the court or jury to decide whether or not he was acting in self-defence or of another.

How does a jury make their decision?

Jurors are not allowed to discuss their deliberations with anyone outside of the jury room, so we can never know what discussions took place.

You can read more about how jury trials work here.

The Judge provided them with a “route to verdict” document which sets out the questions that the jury needed to ask themselves before coming to a verdict.

ben stokes not guilty

What was the “route to verdict”?

  1.  Did Ben Stokes use, or threaten violence towards another? If no, not guilty, if yes move to the next question.
  2. Did he genuinely believe that it was necessary to use or threaten that violence so as to defend himself and/or another?
  3.  If yes, was the force reasonable in the circumstances he perceived them to be? If it was, then the verdict is not guilty.
  4. If no, move to the next question.
  5. Was the conduct of all of them, taken together, such as would cause a person of reasonable firmness present at the scene to fear for his personal safety? If yes, the verdict is guilty, if no or it may not have been, the verdict is not guilty.

What is reasonable?

 The jury was given further guidance that only the use of reasonable force can be lawful.

A person who genuinely thinks he or another is about to be attacked may react on the spur of the moment. He cannot realistically be expected to weigh up precisely how much force he needs to use to defence himself or that other person.

If he has done what he honestly and instinctively thought was necessary, then that would be strong evidence that it was reasonable. On the other hand, using force out of all proportion to what he genuinely anticipated might happen to him or another, then that would be unreasonable.

ben stokes not guilty

How can our expert criminal solicitors help?

We will be able to give you advice as to the strength of the evidence in public order offences, the availability of defences and likely sentence upon conviction.  You will always be helped by seeking this advice at the earliest possible opportunity.

As a result, if you are arrested for a public order offence or know that the police wish to speak to you about an offence of then make sure you insist on your right to free and independent legal advice.

The advantages of such early advice legal advice can be found here.

If you have already been interviewed or face court proceedings we can still make a real difference to the outcome of your case.

Legal aid may well be available to fund your defence at court.

We have offices across the East Midlands.  You can find your most convenient office here.   Alternatively you can contact us using the form below.

ben stokes not guilty
VHS Fletchers offices across the East Midlands

In this case, Ben Stokes elected to be dealt with at the Crown Court rather than the Magistrates’ Court, we can advise you on the options available to you and the consequences of those options.


Carefully prepared cross examination leads to not guilty verdict

Nottingham crime solicitor Lauren Fisher secured a not guilty verdict for her client following careful cross examination of a witness.  He faced an allegation of common assault.  He was said to have punched his partner once to the face when drunk.  She had visible injuries – bruising and swelling to her cheek bone.

Preparation of cross examination

In order to present your best case at trial, an experienced advocate will plan how best to ask the questions.  For example, in this case, Lauren would have to question the witness to suggest that she was not telling the truth.  If a witness’s truthfulness is challenged immediately, it might be unlikely that they help an advocate with other information that they could give.

As a result, Lauren questioned the witness first to establish that a third person had been present during the incident.  The witness, in answer to questions, confirmed that this person was a mutual friend who would not favour one party over another.  They had no reason to lie that the witness could think of.

This information was important as the third person was to be called as a witness for the defence.

Lauren then moved on to more contentious issues.  She cross-examined the witness on the important differences between the account she gave in her statement and the evidence she had given to the court.

At one point the witness conceded that she had “tried to contact the police to change my statement as I knew it did not make sense”.  This was an important concession by the witness.

Self-Defence raised

Our client’s defence was that he had been acting in self-defence but the injury was accidental.  He maintained that he was being hit by both the complainant and her friend.  Perhaps unsurprisingly, if this was true, her friend had not given a statement to the police.

A statement had been taken by Lauren from the mutual friend who had been present.  Unfortunately the police had failed to seek accounts from anybody else who had witnessed the incident.

Closing speech dealt with the detail

In closing, Lauren was able to outline all of the problems and inconsistencies with the account that the witness had given under cross examination.  She was able to point to the consistent account given by her client and the third party.

After due consideration, the Magistrates found her client not guilty.

cross examination by criminal legal aid solicitor vhs fletchers

Lauren’s client took the time to thank her for the work that she had put into his case.  He wrote:

“Hi Lauren, I’m very happy with what happened today.  You are a good solicitor.  The way you handled the whole situation was good. Thank you again for helping me”

Contact Nottingham crime solicitor Lauren Fisher

cross examination not guilty verdict nottingham solicitor
Nottingham crime solicitor Lauren Fisher

Whether you face a police investigation or proceedings before the Magistrates’ or Crown Court you will wish to instruct a solicitor who will spend the time preparing your case.  This might involve making sure that advice on the law is correct.  If could be giving careful advice on plea or sentence.  In this case it involved preparing a structure for cross examination of a witness to ensure Lauren’s client had the best opportunity for a not guilty verdict.

If you want to contact Lauren to discuss a case then please call her on 0115 9599550.  Alternatively you can use the contact form below.


Pre-emptive strike defence succeeds at trial

pre-emptive strike self defence trial
Nottingham crime solicitor Derek Brown

Nottingham crime solicitor Derek Brown used persuasive advocacy to ensure that his client was found not guilty of assault on the basis of a reasonable pre-emptive strike.

Derek’s client was of good character.  The background to the case was that the complainant had been seeing our client’s boyfriend. This news came out of the blue, understandably causing Derek’s client upset.

Unfortunately, the complainant chose to try and make matters even more upsetting.  She parked outside our client’s house the night before the allegation was made, laughing and using behaviour calculated to provoke a response.

The very next day the complainant was parked up again.  She made an allegation that Derek’s client had approached her in her vehicle, reached through the window and punched her and pulled her hair.  The incident was said to have been unprovoked.  Later in the same day, our client was said to have approached the vehicle again and hit it.

Police Interview as a Volunteer

Our client had been interviewed by the police as a volunteer.  This means that she was not under arrest.  Her answers to questions were still tape-recorded however, and would have the same value as evidence in court even though she was not arrested.

She had chosen not to have a solicitor present in interview.  This might be an unfortunate effect of calling a suspect a volunteer – it perhaps creates an impression that the investigation or interview is somehow less important than when arrested.  Legal advice and representation remains free under legal aid.

Denied assault allegation

In interview, she explained that she had seen the complainant parked up and asked her what she was ‘playing at’.  At that time, the car window was fully wound up.  The complainant stated that she had done nothing wrong, but then suddenly opened the car door and took off her seat belt.

The complainant started to move to get out of the car.  Derek’s client maintained that her body language was aggressive.  She believed she was going to be attacked so before she could get out of her seat she punched her once to the face.  She did this because she believed she was going to be subject to an imminent attack.

Not guilty due to reasonable pre-emptive strike

At trial, both the complainant and Derek’s client gave evidence.  Derek recognised that potential weaknesses in his client’s case of a reasonable pre-emptive strike were:

  • the motive that she had for assaulting the complainant
  • the complainant was hit while still in the car

Despite the problems, Derek’s client gave evidence well.  Derek’s experience meant that he was able to address the Magistrates’ in a strong closing speech.  The Magistrates’ went on to find his client not guilty.

Contact a Nottingham Criminal Defence Lawyer

If you have a difficult case that may turn on whether you instruct an experienced lawyer, then please contact Derek on 0115 9599550 or email him here.