Tag Archives: suspended sentence

Prison avoided for football related disorder

football related disorder
Chesterfield football law solicitor David Gittins

Football is one of the most popular sports in England and Wales to both play and watch on a weekly basis.  On occasions, however, the mix of alcohol and heightened emotions can lead to a loss of control.  This means that what should be a fun day out can turning into the possibility of a fan being banned from all football matches for a minimum 3 years period as well as a possible prison sentence following any football related disorder.

Only this month Chesterfield football law solicitor David Gittins, a football fan himself, represented a 58 year old client who had not been convicted since the mid-80’s.  On this occasion he was before the court for football related offence. Notwithstanding the extremely serious allegation David was able to ensure his client kept his freedom and limited the conditions on the inevitable football banning order that the police applied for.

Football related disorder

Chesterfield Town had hosted Wrexham FC in a Vanarama National League match game. The match was categorised by the Police as “B”.   This meant that there was a potential for disorder. Both before and after the match there were problems caused by a small number of fans.  This included a serious incident in a pub close to the Proact Stadium.

The pub was designated for “home supporters only”.  However, a number of Wrexham fans gained entry.  This resulted in what the police describe as a ‘hostile environment’.  During the disorder David’s client threw a pint glass that he had been holding directly towards the Wrexham fans.  Thankfully nobody was caused injury.

Our client then left the pub, but not before he picked up a Police “spotter” video camera and took it with him.

football related disorder

The police investigation

After the match Derbyshire Police trawled CCTV relating to the incident.  A number of arrests were made.   Our client was interviewed and subsequently received a letter through the post informing him that he had been charged with threatening behaviour.  This postal requisition gave him the date that he was required to attend court.

It was only at this point that David was instructed to assist.  Had our client chose to seek our free and independent legal advice in police interview, we would have been aware of the full circumstances of the allegations much sooner and begun to prepare his case at an early stage.

Once legal aid was granted, David spent several hours watching the CCTV in the case.  He analysed the evidence in full before advising his client on the strength of the evidence against him.

Early guilty plea to football related disorder

David attended Court with his client who entered a guilty plea.  This would secure him maximum credit on sentence. A probation report was prepared.  Our client was a risk of a sentence of imprisonment.  The starting point for offending in these circumstances is 12 weeks in prison.

After hearing detailed and structured mitigation from David, the court decided that his client would be able to keep his freedom.  He received a suspended prison sentence of 3 weeks.

Inevitable Football Banning Order

The police in this case applied for a football banning order.  Unusually the police asked that as well as the usual terms banning attendance at all FA matches, there also be a large exclusion zone on match days.  This would have prevented our client from entering an area around the Proact Stadium for 4 hours before and 6 hours after each home game.

David was able to persuade the Magistrates’ that such additional conditions were unnecessary.

Contact one of our football law solicitors

If you are arrested or know that the police wish to speak to you about football related disorder 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 and will happily travel across the country to provide representation for all football related offences.

VHS Fletchers offices across the East Midlands

Alternatively you can contact us using the form below.



Prison avoided for football related offence

football related offenceIt doesn’t matter if you support a Football team that is winning trophies each year, or a team simply trying to avoid relegation.  The exhilaration of a last minute equaliser, or if you are really lucky a last minute winner, is simply indescribable.

Unfortunately, that 30 seconds of exhilaration could be cut short if your actions result in you being drawn to the attention of the police if your celebrations have gone too far.

Recently Chesterfield football law solicitor Ben Strelley represented a young client in both police interview and Chesterfield Magistrates’ Court.  He had run onto the pitch to celebrate a 93rd minute equaliser at the Chesterfield Town against Ebbsfleet United match.

The Allegation

For those who didn’t follow Chesterfield Town closely during the 2018-2019 league season, it is fair to say it wasn’t its finest year.

In this particular match, Chesterfield had gone 3-0 down to the away team after only 45 minutes.  Slowly the Spireites found their feet and clawed back two goals before time added on.

In the 93rd minute Will Evans scored an equaliser to square the game and complete the comeback.

Like many of the 4123 fans in attendance our client, a Chesterfield Town fan, was elated with the goal.  So overwhelmed was he by the turnaround he ran on to the pitch with others to celebrate with the Chesterfield Town players.

football related offence

After the Match

The police were in attendance at the game and had recorded the celebrations of the fans.  They subsequently contacted our client to arrange a voluntary interview.  He had the good sense to contact Ben for his expert free and independent legal advice in this interview.

The allegation our client faced was that he had committed an offence under sections 4 and 5 of the Football (Offences) Act 1991 by entering the field of play.  Although it is possible for a suspect to raise a defence, they must have lawful authority or excuse to be on the pitch, and must prove that this is the case.

 Guilty plea at Chesterfield Magistrates’ Court

football related offence
Chesterfield football law solicitor Ben Strelley

Football law solicitor Ben Strelley attended court with his client.  He was unable to put forward a defence to the charge so pleaded guilty at the first possible opportunity.  This would afford him full credit for his plea.

Although this offence would not usually attract a prison sentence, our client had committed this offence during the currency of a suspended sentence order.  This means that there was a real risk that this offence would trigger the activation of the suspended sentence.  To avoid this, Ben would have to argue successfully that to activate the sentence would be unjust.

Ben spent the time necessary with his client to be able to provide detailed, structured personal mitigation on behalf of his client.  This resulted in his client avoiding what might have seemed an inevitable prison sentence.   Instead the suspended sentence was varied and he was ordered to undertake 40 hours of additional unpaid work as well as a fine for the new offence.

A football banning order was also imposed.  Sometimes it is impossible to mount a successful opposition to these applications! Nonetheless, our client was delighted with the outcome and the fact that he had kept his freedom due to Ben’s expert advice and representation.

Expert representation for a football related offence

If you are arrested or know that the police wish to speak to you about a football related offence 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 and will happily travel across the country to provide representation for all football related offences.

VHS Fletchers offices across the East Midlands

Alternatively you can contact us using the form below.


Can I get a suspended sentence?

A suspended sentence is a term of imprisonment that is suspended so that you do not go into custody immediately.  Further, you will not go into custody if you comply with the conditions attached to the order.

Who can get a suspended sentence?

suspended sentenceIn the Magistrates’ Court, any sentence of 6 months’ imprisonment (12 months for two or more either-way offences) or less can be suspended.  In the Crown Court, any sentence of 24 months or less can be suspended.

The minimum length of imprisonment for a suspended sentence is 14 days.

It follows, therefore, that if your offending is deserving of a sentence above the maximum level, or you are sentenced as a dangerous offender, you will not be able to receive a suspended sentence.

A suspended sentence is also not available for youths.

When can a sentence be suspended?

suspended sentenceThe sentencing court will first consider whether or not a custodial sentence should be imposed.  In legal terms the court decides whether the “custody threshold” has been passed.

If custody of one of the lengths discussed above is imposed, the Court can then move on to decide whether it can be suspended or not.

In considering whether the sentence can be suspended the Court will look at the particular circumstances of the offence and offender and consider a sentencing guideline that applies to this scenario.

Factors to consider would be:

  • whether there is a realistic prospect of rehabilitation
  • strong personal mitigation
  • the impact of immediate custody on others.

Mitigating against a suspension would be that

  • the offender is a risk or danger to the public
  • the most appropriate punishment is immediate custody
  • a poor history of compliance with court orders.

How long can it be suspended for?

The sentence of imprisonment can be suspended for a period from six months up to two years.  This is called the ‘operational period’.

What conditions may be imposed?

A sentence is suspended on condition that you do not commit any further offences during the operational period. In some circumstances an order may have that single condition.

Additionally, you can have a suspended sentence order that is subject to further requirements similar to this in a community order. This can include

  • unpaid work
  • a curfew
  • supervision with the Probation Service.

If you are subject to such an order, it is also suspended on condition that you comply with the requirements imposed.

What happens if I breach the order?

You can breach an order by either committing an offence within the operational period or failing to comply with any requirements that are imposed.

The starting point that will be adopted by the court if you are in breach of an order is to activate the period of imprisonment. The length of imprisonment may be reduced to reflect the level of compliance with the order and any of the requirements.

If it is unjust in the circumstances to activate the sentence then the court has other options.   You may be

  • fined for the breach,
  • made subject to further or more onerous requirements
  • the operational period may be extended.

 How can we help?

As well as advising you whether you might be able to receive a suspended sentence, we will also be able to help you put yourself in the best position for the court to treat you leniently.

This process can start as early as advice prior to a police interview under caution.  As a result, if you are arrested or know that the police wish to speak to you about any offence then make sure you insist on your right to free and independent legal advice and ask for VHS Fletchers.

The advantages of such early 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.

Some examples of cases where we have helped secure a suspended sentence for our clients can be found here:

Drug Offences

Motoring Offences

Conveying Articles into Prison


 You can find your nearest office here.

suspended sentence
VHS Fletchers offices across the East Midlands

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Distressing case before Chesterfield Magistrates’ Court

activation of a suspended sentence
Chesterfield crime solicitor Denney Lau

A recent case involving activation of a suspended sentence nearly brought Chesterfield crime solicitor Denney Lau to tears.  Despite having been qualified for 11 years and having represented any number of clients with many different circumstances before the court, this case was still able to cause distress.

Denney’ s client was appearing before the court in relation to breach of a suspended sentence order.  The starting point for breaching such an order is that the suspended sentence term must be activated.  It is possible to avoid this if the court can be satisfied that it would be unjust to do so in all of the circumstances.  As a result, Denney’s client was very much at risk of a custodial sentence.

The breach information set out that although our client’s initial compliance had been good, after several months he had simply stopped attending the appointments.  No explanation had been given.  On the face of it, our client was guilty of a complete disregard of a court order and there was unlikely to be any argument to avoid a prison sentence.

However, upon further investigation, this view of the case could not be further from the truth.

Compelling personal circumstances to avoid activation of a suspended sentence

During private consultation Denney was able to learn the full circumstances of his client’s failure to keep to the terms of the order.  His client had lost touch with the probation service following difficulties in his partner’s pregnancy.

During a routine scan, no heart beat had been detected.  Attempts were made to induce the birth.  Further complications arose and his partner had to undergo emergency surgery.

Although the baby was born, within two months our client was attending the funeral of his child.  He struggled to cope with these life changing events and had made several attempts to take his own life.

He had sought medical help and mistakenly believed that all of the professionals involved with his family would have liaised with each other so that compliance under the probation order had been suspended.  Unfortunately, the order does not work like that and it had continued.

Denney had to advise his client that despite his personal circumstances he was in breach of the suspended sentence order,  Had he spoken with the probation service they may have been understanding of his circumstances, but he had not.

It appeared, however, that the information from the client provided compelling reasons for the court to permit the order to continue.  The court agreed, having heard the mitigation, that it would be unjust to activate the suspended sentence.

The importance of instructing a criminal solicitor

This case illustrates the importance of instructing an expert criminal defence solicitor, whether you face activation of a suspended sentence or any other criminal offence.

Denney and his colleagues are used to hearing about people’s lives in great detail, whether that is by way of a police allegation or as part of a defence or mitigation.  As a result, we are experts at gathering relevant information and will have heard very similar cases many times over the years.  The horrific ordeal suffered by our client in this case still has the power to shock.

We were able to represent this client under the legal aid scheme.  This means that our representation before the Magistrates’ Court was free of charge to him.  This means that he was spared the ordeal of explaining deeply personal information to both the probation service and Magistrates.

You can read more about legal aid here.

You can contact your nearest office for an appointment to discuss your case.  Our contact details can be found here.

activation of a suspended sentence
VHS Fletchers offices across the East Midlands

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Sentencing Guidelines for Breaching Court Orders

On 7 June 2018 the Sentencing Council published new guidelines for judges and magistrates.  These are to be used when offenders are being sentenced for breaching court orders.

The guidelines provide a clear approach.  This mean that the way courts deal with such offenders will be tightened up.  These are people who are breaching court orders by not complying with orders such as suspended sentence orders, community orders, restraining orders and sexual harm prevention orders.

It is the first time there have been comprehensive guidelines setting out a consistent approach for courts to use.  They will help ensure that for offenders breaching court orders those sentencing will impose appropriate penalties according to the seriousness of the breach.

breaching court orders

What breaches of court orders are covered by the guideline?

  • Breach of a Community Order
  • Breach of a Suspended Sentence Order
  • Breach of Post Sentence Supervision
  • Failing to Surrender to Bail
  • Breach of a Protective Order (restraining and non-molestation orders)
  • Breach of a Criminal Behaviour Order and Anti-Social Behaviour Order
  • Breach of a Sexual Harm Prevention Order and Sexual Offence Prevention Order
  • Failing to Comply with Notification Requirement
  • Breach of Disqualification from acting as a director
  • Breach of Disqualification from keeping an animal

When does the guideline on breaching court orders come in to force?

The guideline for breaching court orders will come into effect in courts on 1 October 2018.

Is the guideline a change in approach?

Courts are required to follow guidelines and these guidelines closely reflect legislation and define more clearly appropriate court responses to breaching court orders.

For example, in relation to suspended sentence orders, legislation states that they must be activated – i.e. the offender will be sent to prison – in the event of a breach unless it would be unjust to do so.

breaching court ordersThe guideline gives clearer guidance on this consideration.  Offenders will now not get opportunities to avoid their sentence being activated. For activation to be considered to be unjust, there would need to be new and exceptional circumstances – not present at the time the order was imposed – that prevented them from complying with the order. This might involve for example the offender taking on caring for a disabled relative which greatly affects their ability to comply with an unpaid work requirement.

The guideline also covers breaching court orders imposed to prevent particular behaviour or protect individuals or groups from it.  These include Sexual Harm Prevention Orders and Restraining Orders. The guidelines prompt courts to look at an offender’s motivation and intention in committing a breach to assess the seriousness of the breach. The guidelines also instruct courts to look at any harm caused, and for the first time in a guideline, the risk of harm being caused.

Including a focus on risk of harm for such breaches helps ensure appropriate sentences are imposed where a breach presents a serious risk of harm to the public.  As a result no actual harm needs to have occurred. This could include for example a sex offender who fails to comply with notification requirements with the intention of evading detection in order to commit further offences.

Sentencing Council member Julian Goose said:

“Court orders are there to protect individuals and the wider public from particular types of offending or continuing criminal behaviour by offenders. Making sure that offenders comply with court orders is crucial in reinforcing public confidence in sentencing. Where offenders do not comply, the public have a right to expect that this is properly addressed by the courts. We are giving courts clear guidance on what action should be taken against those offenders who ignore court orders so that they are dealt with robustly and consistently.”

Will more people go to prison as a result?

The Sentencing Council conducts research to assess the impact of its guidelines on future sentencing practice. This is a difficult task and the findings are subject to many caveats.  However, the following pattern emerges:

Protective orders:

‘In general, the sentencing ranges have been set with current sentencing practice in mind and therefore it is not anticipated that there will be any impact on prison and probation resources in the majority of cases. There are two exceptions which may lead to higher sentences for some breaches of a restraining/non- molestation order.’

Criminal Behaviour Order:

‘In general, the sentencing ranges have been set with current sentencing practice in mind and therefore it is not anticipated that there will be any impact on prison and probation resources in the majority of cases. The exception is for the most serious breach cases that fall in categories A1, A2 and B1, where there has been an extension to the category ranges, and also at the bottom of the distribution where there may actually be a reduction in sentence severity.’

Breach of notification requirements:

‘A review of transcripts of cases has confirmed that current guidance is not considered adequate by sentencers to address offences falling within the top end of seriousness. The new guideline is more prescriptive and as a consequence it is possible that there may be more sentences at the top end of the guideline range.’

Suspended Sentence Orders:

‘…it has not been possible, (and it is not advisable), to calculate any informative or realistic estimate of the guideline on sentencing practice or the subsequent impact on prison or probation services.’

Breach of disqualifications:

‘…any potential impact would be minimal.’

Failing to surrender to bail:

‘The new wording and format of the guideline regarding consecutive sentences is considered to be in line with the existing guideline, and therefore is not anticipated to have an impact on prison or probation resources.’

breaching court ordersThere was insufficient data to provide an insight into the effect on sentencing for breach of Sexual Harm Prevention Orders or SOPOs.

In our experience sentencing guidelines often do lead to unintended rises in sentence length, possibly due to a lack of understanding, something our advocates are acutely aware of.

If you are breaching a court order how can we help?

 If you know that you are in breach of a court order then please contact us immediately.  The breach may be a matter investigated by the police and involving a police interview.  If so, our independent advice and representation of you in such an interview will be free of charge.

If you face court proceedings it may well be that you are entitled to free legal aid in the Magistrates’ Court or legal aid with or without a contribution in the Crown Court.

You can find the office most convenient to you here.

breaching court orders

Alternatively you can use the contact form below.


Plea to drug offences results in suspended sentence

drug offences solcitor advocate legal representation
Derby criminal solicitor advocate William Bennett

Derby solicitor advocate William Bennett and senior crown court litigator Sarah Lees-Collier worked together to secure a favourable sentence for their client before Nottingham Crown Court who faced serious drug offences.

Negotiation secured a favourable basis of plea and sentence.

Crown court trial for serious drug offences

Our client faced trial with four others for drug offences.  She was charged with conspiracy to supply cannabis.  A large amount of cannabis had been found in three houses and the boot of a car.  All defendants were connected by a family relationship.

drug offences cannabis growSpecifically, our client was said to have helped with the growing of the cannabis as well as the onward supply.  Although our client accepted growing cannabis she maintained that this was for her own use.  It was medicinal as she suffered from severe arthritis.  Sarah obtained a medical report from her doctor to back up this assertion.

Unfortunately, the prosecution was not prepared to accept what she had said.  They  maintained that she had a key role in what was a substantial conspiracy.  The case was listed for a ten day trial for all defendants including our client.

On the morning of trial there was movement on behalf of both our client and the prosecution.  She was prepared to accept involvement on the basis that her house had been used to grow the cannabis.  her route into cannabis use and this offending remained the same – her illness.

As a result of these negotiations the court was able to sentence our client far more leniently that would otherwise have been the case.  Despite her late plea, William persuaded the judge to impose a sentence of only four months but suspend it.  As a result, as long as our client complies with the community element of the order and does not commit further offences then she will not have to serve the sentence.

Basis of plea and sentencing guidelines

drug offences crown representation
Crown court litigator Sarah Lees-Collier

The basis upon which our clients are sentenced will always be very important.  This is particularly true in cases involving drug supply as the sentencing guidelines can be particularly unforgiving.

For example, whether you have a significant or leading role in a relatively small scale operation supplying cannabis can make a difference of three years to the starting point for sentence.

In this particular case, because of the guidelines, the starting point for the judge in considering sentence would have been twelve months.  Bearing in mind the lateness of the plea, William was able to persuade the judge to reduce the sentence dramatically to the sentence finally imposed.

Contact our specialist crown court team

We have Crown Court specialists based at all of our offices across the East Midlands.  Find your nearest office here.  We will provide you with the most cost effective way to fund your Crown Court representation, whether that is privately or through legal aid.

drug offences legal representation
VHS Fletchers offices across the East Midlands

Alternatively, you can contact us using the form below.

Client in Possession of a Bladed Article

Nottingham criminal duty solicitor Jameel Malik was recently instructed in a sentencing before a District Judge at Nottingham Magistrates’ Court.  The case involved possession of a bladed article.

possession of a bladed article sentencing
Nottingham Magistrates’ Court

Possession of a Bladed Article

Jameel’s client was to be sentenced for possession of a bladed article.  There had been an argument with a shopkeeper.  This then led to our client arguing with his friend.

The second argument was witnessed by off duty police officers.  When approached by officers, Jameel’s client then ran away.  When detained and searched he was found to have a knife on him.

Breach of a Suspended Sentence

The offence put our client in breach of both a suspended sentence order and a conditional discharge.  Despite this, Jameel was able to persuade the Magistrates that a probation report ought to be ordered and the case was adjourned for one to be repaired.

Once the report had been prepared, Jameel was then able to argue that in this case it would not be just to activate the suspended sentence.  He put forward the following:

  • the suspended sentence order was imposed for a different type of offence
  • it had been imposed five months earlier
  • in that time, his client had been working well with the probation service

The District Judge, who had read the pre-sentence report, was persuaded by Jameel’s arguments.  The operation period in relation to the existing suspended sentence was extended by 6 months.

In relation to the offence of possession of a bladed article a new short suspended sentence was imposed.

No action was taken in relation to the conditional discharge.

Contact Nottingham Crime Solicitor Jameel Malik

possession of a bladed article sentencing Nottingham Magistrates
Nottingham crime solicitor Jameel Malik

Whether you face a police investigation or court proceedings you will want to instruct a solicitor who will seek the best result for you in your circumstances.  You can telephone Jameel on 0115 9599550.  Alternatively you can use the form below.



Suspended Sentence Order Allowed to Continue

suspended sentence order chesterfield crime solicitor
Chesterfield Magistrates’ Court

Chesterfield Crime Solicitor David Gittins recently used all of his experience to identify a reason why it would be unjust for the Court to activate a Suspended Sentence Order.  His job was made all the more difficult as the new offence was an assault on the same victim.  David was successful in persuading the court that justice could be best served by his client receiving a further opportunity.

Offending during a suspended sentence order

David’s client had been arrested and charged with an allegation of common assault. It was said that whilst in drink he had punched his partner who was trying to get him to leave her car. This was witnessed by others at the scene and resulted in both police and ambulance staff being called.

suspended sentence order chesterfield crime solicitor
Chesterfield Police Station

David’s client was taken to the police station.  He chose not to answer questions in interview, instead providing a “no comment” interview.  He was, unsurprisingly, charged with the offence.  The case was initially listed for trial.  This was because our client initially wished to argue that he was acting in self-defence.  Further analysis of the evidence and legal advice from David meant that he changed his plea to guilty.

Legal advice leads to sensible guilty plea

This guilty plea put David’s client in breach of a suspended sentence.  That offence had also been committed in similar circumstance.  As a result, it appeared highly likely that the court would activate the suspended sentence.

David spent some time with his client so he could obtain any information that could be used in mitigation.  He also took the time to seek information from the probation officer at court.  The officer was able to confirm that his client was progressing well on the community elements that comprised the suspended sentence order.  This information gave our client an opportunity to argue that he ought to be given a further opportunity.  Instead risk was best addressed in the community.

David addressed the District Judge at length about the reasons behind the recent offending.  He offered forward the personal mitigation.  This was linked to  good progress that his client was making with both the probation  and mental health services.

He was able to outline how any period of imprisonment would be detrimental to his client’s rehabilitation because the support and treatment he was currently receiving would not be available in prison.  He was at risk of losing stable accommodation which is so important in an offender’s rehabilitation.

Suspended Sentence Order Allowed to Continue

The District Judge agreed that it would be unjust to activate the suspended sentence because of the detailed mitigation put forward by David. Instead he imposed a further suspended sentence order. The breach had to be marked so the operational period of the original suspended sentence order was extended by two months.

David’s client was obviously delighted with the opportunity to continue to turn his life around and receive treatment within the community.

Criminal Legal Aid Available

 Legal Aid is available for Magistrates’ Court proceedings, although it is dependent on a merits and means test being satisfied.  In this case, David’s client was able to receive legal aid for his representation.  As a result our advice and representation was free of charge to him.

 Contact a Chesterfield Crime Solicitor

Chesterfield criminal defence lawyer chesterfield
Chesterfield Crime Solicitor David Gittins

Whether you face a police investigation, Magistrates’ Court proceedings or a case before the Crown Court you will wish to instruct a criminal law specialist.  We provide advice and representation nationwide from out offices across the East Midlands.

If you wish to instruct David then please telephone him at our Chesterfield Office on 01246 283000 or use the contact form below.  Our other offices can be found here.


Conveying Prohibited Articles into Prison – Suspended Sentence

conveying prohibited articles into prison suspended sentence
Senior crown court litigator Sarah Lees-Collier

Senior Crown Court litigator Sarah Lees-Collier recently represented a client charged with conveying prohibited articles into prison.  In this case it was cannabis and mamba, List A and List C items.

Sarah’s client was in a difficult position because the sentence for such offences is almost inevitably a prison sentence.   In this case his position was worse as he had been convicted before of a similar offence.  In that case he had received a six month prison sentence.  As a result, if convicted , prison would seem inevitable.

Detained with Cannabis and Mamba

Sarah’s client had attempted to enter Nottingham Prison with two wraps of what he thought was mamba in his underwear. He was stopped because a  sniffer dog indicated that he ought to be searched.  When the items were discovered he immediately said he believed it was mamba.  When it was tested only one wrap was found to contain mamba.   The other contained cannabis although the wraps looked very similar in appearance.

The difference was potentially important in terms of sentence.  Cannabis was a List A article, whereas Mamba was not.  The maximum sentence was 10 years in prison, whereas the penalty for a List C article was a fine.

The prosecution was persuaded that  Sarah’s client could be sentenced on the basis that he believed that he was bringing a List C article into the prison.  Despite his record the court was persuaded to adjourn the case for a pre-sentence report.

At our client’s request, we instructed counsel Ben Isaacs of 7 Bedford Row Chambers.  Following extensive mitigation  the Judge was persuaded that the inevitable prison sentence could be suspended.  He received an 8 month prison sentence suspended for 18 months with community elements because of these arguments.

The Current Law on Conveying Prohibited Articles into Prison

Once an individual had knowingly conveyed a package containing any prohibited article into prison he was criminally liable for the contents.   As a result, a person will bear the risk of a significant sentence even when they thought that they were bringing in a less serious, List C item.

Their belief is likely to be important mitigation, but cannot be a defence.

Contact Crown Court Litigator Sarah Lees-Collier

If you face an allegation of conveying prohibited articles into prison or any other criminal offence then please contact Sarah.  She can be reached at our Nottingham office on 0115 9599550 or alternatively you can contact her using the form below.


Prison Avoided For Repeated Restraining Order Breach

derby criminal defence lawyer mitigates restraining order
Derby crime solicitor John Young

Derby crime solicitor John Young recently acted for a client who faced what appeared to be an inevitable prison sentence.  His client had an appalling history for breaching his restraining order.  A first order had been made in 2010 but this had been breached five times.

Although that order was revoked in 2012, a  second Restraining Order was imposed in 2014.  That order had already been breached 10 times with the most recent sentence for breach being three weeks prior to this sentencing.

New breaches of a restraining order

John’s client was originally charged with two allegations of breaching the restraining order.  On the second occasion he had been arrested at his ex-partner’s address so was clearly guilty of the offence.  However John was able to negotiate with the prosecution that it wasn’t in the public interest to proceed with both charges.  As a result, his client only pleaded guilty to the single offence.

All of the circumstances would suggest that a prison sentence was inevitable in this case:

  • offence committed during a period of supervision
  • offence placed him in breach of a community order
  • he had an extremely poor record for identical offending

The sentencing guidelines suggested that not only should the case be dealt with by a prison sentence, but that the client should have been committed to Derby Crown Court for sentence.  A sentence of six months in prison was represented by the prosecution as being insufficient because of these guidelines.

Suspended sentence rather than immediate custody

Instead, John used all of his experience and persuasive advocacy to ensure that his client received a further chance to turn his offending around while in the community.   It is hoped he can avoid further breaches of his restraining order.

Continuity of Representation

John’s client was assisted by the fact that we are able to provide continuity of representation in most cases.  He had dealt with his client for the previous court appearance so knew all of his background and the history of previous orders.  As a result, all of this worked to his client’s advantage.

John’s client was both surprised and pleased to receive a suspended sentence rather than an immediate prison sentence of some length.

Contact a Derby Criminal Defence Solicitor

We offer 24 hour emergency advice and representation for those being investigated for criminal offences or detained for court at weekends.  Police station advice and representation will always be free of charge to you, as will any interview with the police under caution, whether you are arrested or a volunteer, at the police station or at your home address.

The locations and contact details for your nearest office can be found here.

John Young can be contacted on 01332 546818 or if you want to email him then please use the form below.