Nottingham crime solicitor Lauren Fisher pursued an exceptional hardship application for her client to ensure that he had the benefit of legal aid. She then ensured that his trial was prepared properly with the Crown, once again, failing to secure the evidence that would provide a realistic prospect of conviction.
The circumstances of the offence
Lauren’s client was charged with and allegation of common assault. A member of the public had reported the assault. When the police attended at the scene they found the alleged victim who named Lauren’s client as being responsible for an unlawful assault. He was named and arrested nearby.
In interview, Lauren’s client maintained that he could not remember anything about the night. Unsurprisingly he was charged to court.
A few days later, his partner made a further statement to the police. She stated that she had been drunk when she made her original statement. The incident had also been two-sided and she had not been assaulted. Due to the fact she was no longer a helpful witness to the prosecution she was tendered to the defence. This means that Lauren could call her as a witness if she wanted.
Lack of identification evidence
The prosecution had not noticed that without this witness there was no evidence identifying Lauren’s client as the man involved in the incident. This was the case because the eye witness had not been present when our client was arrested. As a result of the original statement by our client’s partner there had not been identification procedures.
Once Lauren had identified this she properly put the court and prosecution on notice that identification would be a trial issue. Had she not put the prosecution on notice it was likely that the prosecution would be granted an adjournment to seek the necessary evidence.
Failure to hold a VIPER procedure
Despite being warned of the problem with the evidence the prosecution and police failed to pursue the VIPER identification evidence. Lauren’s client confirmed that he would consent to the procedure late in the case. As a result his details were passed to the officer to make the necessary arrangements.
Despite this, by the trial no attempts had been made to make the arrangements for a video identification parade. As a result the prosecution took a realistic approach and offered no evidence.
Magistrates’ Court Criminal Legal Aid Exceptional Hardship
Criminal legal aid in the Magistrates’ Court is subject to both a merits and means test. Firstly, the Legal Aid Agency has to be sure that there are features of the case that mean that legal aid should be granted. The defendant is also subject to a means test. There is no contribution, so if the defendant earns over a certain level after deductions then legal aid is not available.
It is possible, however, to make an application to the Legal Aid Agency to ask that legal aid is granted on the basis of exceptional hardship. This procedure involves the defendant’s solicitor setting out the likely fees to represent them at court and then asking the Agency to say that the expense would be more that they could afford.
In this case, Lauren spent the time with her client assessing that such an application would be worthwhile. Because of this he was able to have the benefit of free advice and representation at the Magistrates’ Court trial.
Contact a criminal law solicitor in Nottingham
Whether you face a police investigation or proceedings before the Magistrates’ or Crown Court you will want to instruct a specialist criminal defence lawyer. We will provide you with advice and representation that you can afford.
Please remember that advice and representation in police interview is always free of charge under the legal aid scheme. This is always true whether you are interviewed while under arrest or as a volunteer, at the police station or another place such as your home.
We will always provide advice as to whether an exceptional hardship application is likely to succeed and advise on the process.
If you want to instruct Lauren Fisher then please telephone her on 0115 9599550 or use the form below. Alternatively, you can find your nearest office here.