Representation of People with no Previous Convictions

EXPERT LEGAL GUIDE FROM SPECIALIST SOLICITORS

Representation of Professionals and People with no Previous Convictions

Despite some progress in Human Rights in the last century, it has been disappointing to see changes in recent governments’ approach to law and order. Tony Blair’s government created 3,000 new criminal offences in its first 9 years in power, but people generally feel less safe. Police are driven by targets to ‘get results’ rather than solve problems, so people who should never face a criminal case are sometimes brought into the system. University students can find their future careers ruined by association with teenage pranks or other immature behaviour. Professional people working in Medicine, Finance, or even Law can find their professional lives at risk for an offence that may be viewed in the criminal system as comparatively minor.

READ MORE

talk to a lawyer today

0161 794 0088

REQUEST A CALLBACK

At Mary Monson Solicitors, we differ from many criminal solicitors. We do not treat any offence as minor. Any offence potentially resulting in a conviction or custody can be distressing. It is perhaps ironic that a client with many previous convictions is often better equipped to deal with a criminal prosecution than someone who has led a life free from any criminal allegations, such as a doctor or other professional.

We have represented all kinds of people, from people in business to professional sportspeople. Our approach is to treat the case of anyone whose career is vulnerable to a criminal conviction with the high level of respect it deserves. By being proactive and aggressive where required, we have an excellent track record in getting proceedings stopped in their infancy, saving our clients from the stress of proceedings and the consequences of a conviction, and if that is not possible, winning at trial.

How to get the best result for the client in a criminal case?

Strategy when representing professionals

It must first be said that there is no ‘works every time’ key to success in any allegation against an individual. Of course, the fundamentals are important time spent with the lawyer, appropriate research into the issues, briefing a good advocate. But in respect of specifics, where someone is a professional accused of an offence, or someone with no previous convictions, the best tool that they have to defend themselves is the thing they stand to lose their good name. With this in mind, character evidence, ideally both written and from a person or people who actually attend at court, is absolutely essential.

At a more strategic level, the whole attitude with the police, the prosecution and the court must reflect that the defence team regards the client as someone who should not be there. It is surprising how often a criminal case can be dealt with in a way that does not result in a conviction simply because the defence lawyers are bold enough to ask. The authorities have several ways of dealing with an accusation. It’s not just a case of charge or no charge, guilty or not guilty.

Cautions

Cautions should be avoided wherever possible. They are regarded by the court as an admission of guilt, and will usually appear on a Criminal Records Bureau (CRB) check. Any caution for an offence of violence (e.g. assault or dishonesty) will usually be available to a prospective employer, educational institution, or professional body. Cautions are often doled out by officers at police stations and accepted by individuals who believe that they amount to little more than a ‘slap on the wrist’. This is not the case for anyone who has not been convicted of an offence. A caution can do damage to a person’s professional prospects on a similar level to a conviction handed down by the court.

Warning

At the interview / investigation stage at the police station, an officer can consider a warning or reprimand as an end to the matter. This enables the officer to consider charging the individual more readily if a similar allegation is later made. Sometimes an officer can be persuaded to take this route. A warning is just that it is not a conviction and not usually disclosable to employers etc.

Bind Overs, the Conditional Discharge and the Absolute Discharge

Certain penalties exist which a court can impose which do not amount to criminal convictions and do not result in a CRB file being endorsed. One of these is a ‘bind over’. It has traditionally been used as a penalty to prevent future breaches of the peace, so is usually handed down by courts for offences of public order or mild violence. It is a civil penalty, not a criminal conviction, and is therefore a nicer alternative than a conviction. A good criminal defence solicitor will table this with the prosecution if the offence is minor enough. Negotiation skills are very important here, because the prosecution must offer it. It cannot be obtained from magistrates or a Crown Court judge.

Discontinuance

A discontinuance, like a bind over, is something that must be obtained with agreement from the Prosecution. Again, negotiation is very important, although the prosecution will usually ask for written representations (a letter from the defence explaining the reasons the case should be discontinued). For the prosecution to agree, the defence must show that the circumstances of the case or the client are exceptional. Even then, there is no guarantee that the prosecution will agree.

Advice for someone called for interview

Of paramount importance when attending an interview is to always have a solicitor. The police are trained to present their role as one of an impartial fact finder. This is misleading. Police are driven by results and regard arrests and charges as successful outcomes. Their only aim is not ‘to hear all sides of the story to get to the truth’, as they often make out. The right advice at the police station stage can prevent a case ever being brought in the first place.

Funding for low level offences where a conviction has serious consequences

Because of limits to legal aid funding for most people in employment, most people have to fund a magistrates (where most minor cases are heard) case privately. That doesn’t have to mean huge legal fees, but it does mean that the client should allocate a level of funding consistent with the goal. We work with clients to help them work out schedules to make affording fees easier, and usually can offer fixed fees so clients know that funds will not escalate with every letter we receive or send.

Trial

Where a trial cannot be avoided, the case must be prepared thoroughly. Expert evidence and private investigation should be considered where appropriate. The client must be well prepared for trial, and difficult areas in the evidence should be considered well in advance, not during the trial itself. A barrister should be briefed early and should be hand picked to suit both the client and the case.

Read Case studies from our criminal defence lawyers

Case Study 1

Our client was the owner and managing director of a telecommunications systems company based in the North West of England. He was accused of being involved in a minor assault and disturbance when leaving a taxi. He was particularly vulnerable in that contracts held by his company for supplying the government’s security services were contingent on him having a clean record with the Criminal Records Bureau. If his company lost this contract, it would be losing its single largest customer, and 30 jobs could have been at risk.

Our approach was to prepare his case in the same way that we would prepare the case of somebody who would receive a long prison sentence if convicted. The consequences of failure seemed comparable to our client. We undertook a full investigation into the facts, a private investigator was instructed, and, unusually in the magistrates court, Mary Monson was retained as the advocate.

We made an application to the District Judge for the prosecution case to be dismissed half way through the trial because of inconsistencies during the cross examination of the main prosecution witness. This application was allowed and the case was thrown out.

Result | An order was then made for the court service to pay the client’s legal fees.

 

Case Study 2

Our client was a girl who had just won a place to study medicine at university. She had been accused of helping another girl she was with to steal clothes from an H & M clothes shop in Central London. The friend had admitted the theft on her own part, but our client was adamant that she had not been involved. Unfortunately, her friend had given her a bag with some stolen items in it which she still had when she had been arrested.

Her family came to us after she had been charged. Our view was that it was unfair that this comparatively minor allegation should disrupt a young girl’s opportunity to become a doctor. After 2 months of sustained pressure from us, and six visits to the magistrates court, the prosecution dropped the charges ‘in the public interest’.

We then applied for the refund of our client’s costs from the court.

Result | Her family received these costs back.

 

Talk to a lawyer

0161 794 0088

Learn more about:

specialists in serious and complex cases

Discuss your options with a specialist criminal solicitor

Mary Monson

Mary Monson

Principal
Joseph Kotrie-Monson

Joseph Kotrie-Monson

Criminal Lawyer
Liam Kotrie

Liam Kotrie

Criminal Lawyer
Kellie Dent

Kellie Dent

Criminal Lawyer
Graham Rishton

Graham Rishton

Criminal Lawyer
Alex Chowdhury

Alex Chowdhury

Criminal Lawyer
Natasha McGarr

Natasha McGarr

Criminal Lawyer

speak to a lawyer now

0161 794 0088

we get most cases dropped before charge

Send us a confidential message and we get back to you as soon as possible

Magistrates Court Guide

EXPERT LEGAL GUIDE FROM SPECIALIST SOLICITORS

What to Expect in the Magistrates Court A Guide for Non-Lawyers

When looking for a criminal solicitor, it can be daunting knowing what questions to ask, and when you are going through proceedings a lot of the language can seem strange and complicated. Our criminal lawyers have been representing clients since the 1970s and we have produced the free magistrates court guide below for anyone who is facing a case in court.

READ MORE

talk to a lawyer today

0161 794 0088

REQUEST A CALLBACK

Magistrates Court Guide – what exactly is it?

The first thing to say in any magistrates court guide is that this is the court people first have to go to when they are facing a criminal case. A criminal case can start in one of two ways:

  • the first is by a court summons, which is a letter that is sent to the accused person’s home address
  • the second way is by a person being charged with an offence at the police station and being either let out on bail until they have to attend court or kept in a cell overnight until being brought to court

After the first hearing, the most serious cases are transferred over to the Crown Court. These are cases involving so called ‘indictable only‘ offences. Indictable only means that these cases can only be dealt with in the Crown Court. Examples of these offences include murder, robbery, blackmail and most sexual offences.

How to get the best result for the client in a criminal case?

What offences can be dealt with in the Magistrates’ Court?

The Magistrates’ Court has the power to deal with two categories of offences:

  • The first category of offence is called a ‘summary only offence’ and these offences can only be dealt with in the Magistrates’ Court. These are usually the most minor of offences. Examples of summary offences include common assault and most driving offences.
  • The second category of offences that can be dealt with in the Magistrates’ Court are called ‘either way’ offences. These offences include medium-level seriousness cases like theft, burglary and ABH assault (actual bodily harm). These ‘either way’ offences can also be dealt with in the Crown Court.

What happens at the first hearing in the Magistrates’ Court?

In general, cases in the Magistrates’ Court are dealt with in public. At the first hearing, the court clerk will ask the accused to confirm their name and address. What happens next depends on the type of offence that the individual is facing.

Summary only offences (less serious offences)

If the individual is facing a summary only offence the clerk will read out the charge and ask whether he/she pleads guilty or not guilty.

If he/she pleads not guilty the case will be adjourned for the trial. The trial does not take place on the first day. The trial is delayed to give the prosecution time to arrange for their witnesses to come to court. The accused person may also require time to arrange for their witnesses to come to court and to prepare their case for trial.

If the individual pleads guilty, then the court will usually give the sentence (whether it is a fine, or a more serious sentence) the same day.

Either way offences (mid level seriousness)

Even a basic magistrates court guide such as this should explain that this court can also used as a transit court for mid-level offences, also called either way offences, and also for the most serious offences. If a person is facing an ‘either way‘ offence, the court will ask him or her to say what he or she pleads.

The individual can say guilty, not guilty, or refuse to say a plea at this time. If he or she says guilty, the court will hear from the prosecution and the defence lawyer and decide whether they can sentence the individual. The Magistrates Court can only give a maximum of 12 months in prison (6 months for only one offence). If they think this is not enough for the offence(s), they can send the case to the Crown Court for sentencing.

If the accused person has said he or she is not guilty or decided not to say what their plea is, the court will hear the opinions of the prosecutor and the criminal defence solicitor as to where the trial should take place (the Crown Court or Magistrates Court ). At this stage the court has two options; to refuse the case if it is too serious to be dealt with in the Magistrates Court and send it to the Crown Court, or to accept dealing with the case.

If they decide to deal with the case, the accused person will then be asked where they would like the case to be heard; either in the Magistrates Court or in the Crown Court. This means that the defendant (the accused person) can always decide for an ‘either way‘ offence to be dealt with in the Crown Court if they wish.

There are advantages and disadvantages to having a trial in the Crown Court or Magistrates Court and a person should always speak to a criminal solicitor before making that decision. The main advantage of a trial in the Crown Court is that the number of people found not guilty is much higher, as a jury (12 members of the public) will hear the evidence in the case, and juries are usually considered more likely to believe a defendant than Magistrates Judges. The evidence is heard by either 3 or 2 lay judges (unqualified lawyers) or by a single district judge (a qualified lawyer). Both lay judges and district judges regularly sit in court. However, in the Crown Court, a jury member will most likely have never been to court before or heard a criminal case. It is sometimes said that lay judges and district judges are cynical in their approach to the evidence due to the number of trials that they hear.

A Basic Magistrates Court Guide to Trial Procedure

The trial starts with the prosecution summarising the case against the defendant. This usually takes a period of a few minutes. This is not the same as evidence but it is the prosecutor’s opportunity to ‘set the scene‘ before calling their witnesses.

The prosecution will then call their witnesses. The witnesses will have already provided witness statements, however, those statements are not evidence unless both the defence solicitor and the prosecution agree that they are accurate. If what the witness has said in his or her statement is not agreed then the witness must give evidence in person in court.

Before coming into court, the witnesses will be able to read their witness statements. The court usher will call the witness into court when it is their turn to give evidence. The prosecutor will then ask the witness questions. Their answers are the evidence in the case and they have to swear an oath to tell the truth in court before starting.

Quite often, the evidence that witnesses give in court is different to the account that they gave in their statement. The witnesses may be ‘cross examined‘ about their evidence by the criminal defence solicitor. This is the dramatic and sometimes aggressive questioning that people associate with witness evidence in court. The criminal defence solicitor will also put the defendant’s case to the witness in cross examination.

After the prosecution have called all their witnesses, they will say that their case is closed.

It is then the defence lawyer’s turn to put the defendant’s case. It may be that having heard all the evidence in the case, the defence lawyer believes that the prosecution have not brought enough evidence to court to show that the offence took place. If this is the case, the defence lawyer may argue that ‘there is no case to answer‘. In general it is legal points that are raised at this stage rather than attacking the believability of the witnesses’ evidence. If the court agrees with this argument, then the case will be stopped and a not-guilty verdict entered. If, however, the court believes that there is evidence, then the case will continue and the defence will have to make their case.

The defendant (who is the accused person) is the first person to give evidence for the defence case. Any defence witnesses will give evidence after him/her. They may be witnesses who saw or heard the incident or they may be ‘character witnesses.’ If the defendant has no previous convictions then he may bring witnesses to court to give evidence as to his character to show the court that he or she is not the type of person who would commit the offence. This is a very important part of the defence of anyone with no previous convictions (see section on representation of people with no previous convictions).

After calling all the witnesses, the defence lawyer will then address the bench (the judges) in the form of ‘a closing speech.’ In this speech he or she will highlight all the inconsistencies in the prosecution case, summarise the defendant’s case and build an argument to persuade the court that their client is not guilty.

After hearing from the defence lawyer, the judge or judges will then retire to consider their verdict.

Sentencing in the Magistrates’ Court

There are a number of sentences that can be imposed in the Magistrates’ Court. We have included some of the more common types in this magistrates court guide below.

Committal to the Crown Court for Sentence

If the defendant indicates a guilty plea, pleads guilty or is found guilty of an offence that could have been heard in the Crown Court (an either way offence) the Magistrates can commit (this means send) the case to Crown Court for sentence if they feel they do not have power to sentence the offence for long enough (given that the maximum for one offence in the Magistrates is 6 months).

Custodial Sentence

A custodial sentence is a prison sentence. If the Magistrates are considering a prison sentence they will normally request that a report be prepared about the defendant to assist them in making their decision. Normally the case is adjourned to another date for the report to be prepared. The length of the adjournment will be dependant on how quickly the report can be prepared. The reports do not have to be in writing.

The minimum custodial sentence is five days. The maximum sentence is 6 months for one offence. However, there is a power to impose 12 months if the accused is being sentenced for two or more offences.

Suspended Sentences

If the Magistrates impose a term of imprisonment between 14 days and six months they may suspend the sentence for between 6 months and two years (€œthe operational period€). When a sentence is suspended the Magistrates must impose one or more requirements to be undertaken by the defendant in the community. These requirements are similar to Community Orders (see below for more detail). If the defendant fails to comply with the requirements or commits another offence during the relevant period, the Magistrates can activate the suspended sentence.

Community Orders

Community Orders are sentences within the community designed either to punish, to rehabilitate or to ensure reparation. Community Orders can require the defendant to do unpaid work, take treatment for drugs, alcohol, or be supervised by the Probation Service, among other requirements.

Fines

The Magistrates can impose a fine. The size of the fine will depend on the seriousness of the offence to be sentenced and an individual’s ability to pay.

Compensation

The Magistrates must consider making an order for compensation in any case where there has been personal injury, loss or damage as a result of the offence that is being sentenced.

Discharge

If the Magistrates feel having regard to the nature of the offence and the character of the defendant that it is appropriate not to impose a punishment they can order either an absolute or a conditional discharge. If an absolute discharge is imposed that is the end of the matter. If they order a conditional discharge then no punishment will be imposed if the defendant does not commit another offence during the period of the discharge. A conditional discharge can be for up to three years.

Further orders the court can make

The court can make further orders where appropriate. These include anti-social behaviour orders (ASBOs), confiscation orders, disqualifications from the ownership of animals, disqualifications from driving. football banning orders, forfeiture and destruction of drugs. restraining orders or sexual offence prevention orders, among others.

When sentencing, the Magistrates must consider the magistrates’ court sentencing guidelines which can be found online

Appeal

There is an automatic right to appeal against a sentence or conviction from the Magistrates’ Court, however, the appeal must be lodged within 21 days of being sentenced.

Talk to a lawyer

0161 794 0088

Learn more about:

specialists in serious and complex cases

Discuss your options with a specialist criminal solicitor

Mary Monson

Mary Monson

Principal
Joseph Kotrie-Monson

Joseph Kotrie-Monson

Criminal Lawyer
Liam Kotrie

Liam Kotrie

Criminal Lawyer
Kellie Dent

Kellie Dent

Criminal Lawyer
Graham Rishton

Graham Rishton

Criminal Lawyer
Alex Chowdhury

Alex Chowdhury

Criminal Lawyer
Natasha McGarr

Natasha McGarr

Criminal Lawyer

speak to a lawyer now

0161 794 0088

we get most cases dropped before charge

Send us a confidential message and we get back to you as soon as possible

Appeals – How the Process Works?

EXPERT LEGAL GUIDE FROM SPECIALIST SOLICITORS

Criminal Appeals A Brief Guide

Mary Monson Solicitors have represented clients who wished to appeal in the Crown Court and the Court of Appeal. We have assisted in finding and putting forward new evidence which wasn’t available to the first trial court, and have successfully challenged judge’s decisions on sentence. Not every case is appealable, but we try to give everyone a chance to have their appeal considered at least initially.

READ MORE

talk to a lawyer today

0161 794 0088

REQUEST A CALLBACK

Appeals How the Process Works

Following a criminal conviction and sentence in a Magistrates or Crown Court, the solicitor and/or barrister will provide advice as to whether or not, he/she feels that a successful appeal can be put forward to the appellate courts. If there are no grounds for an appeal then that advice will generally be verbal. If it is felt that there are grounds for an appeal against either the conviction, sentence or both, then the barrister (referred to as Counsel) will prepare such an advice in writing along with those grounds.

The solicitor will complete the relevant forms (Form NG) and will submit all the paperwork to the convicting/sentencing court. The court will then forward the appeal application to the appellate court in London (where someone is appealing from the crown court this is usually the Criminal Court of Appeal, The Court of Appeal (Criminal Division) or The High Court).

Any crown court appeal application must usually be submitted within 28 days after sentence. There are exceptions to this rule where a request can be made for the court to allow an appeal ‘out of time’ (this is known as ‘Leave to Appeal out of Time’). This type of application must be justified and the full reasons why the application is out of time must be explained.

The above application to appeal either the conviction and/or sentence is known as an application for ‘Leave to Appeal’ and that application is considered by a single Appeal Judge. He or she decides whether or not the application has a reasonable chance of succeeding. In other words, the single Judge is there to filter out all of the applications that will probably end up being unsuccessful anyway. All applications will go through this process and the single Judge will always provide reasons for the decision in writing.

If an application for Leave to Appeal is granted (by the single Judge) the application will go on to the ‘Full’ Court’. This is where the application will be heard in full, witnesses can give evidence and the reasons (known as arguments) can be advanced. The full Court will then make its decision and the application will be granted or refused.

If the application/appeal is granted, there are a number of options open to the appellate court:

  • In the case of an appeal against sentence, a reduction of sentence can be made.
  • In the case of an appeal against conviction, the court can ‘quash’ (overturn) the conviction completely or they can order a re-trial.

How to get the best result for the client in a criminal case?

No Grounds of Appeal

So what happens when the barrister or solicitor advises that there are no grounds of appeal against conviction or sentence? There are several choices open to you. Firstly, if you feel strongly that you have grounds to appeal, you can make an application yourself. You will need to obtain a copy of the application (Form NG) and fully set out your reasons.

Alternatively, a person who has been convicted can seek a second opinion from another lawyer. They need to write to a solicitor who will then send you some forms to sign called CDS1 and CDS2. Once the solicitor has these forms back, he or she will usually be able to come and see the client (if he or she is in prison) to discuss your case and the options available. The client’s reasons can be explored and he will receive a second opinion in writing. If a solicitor thinks that the appeal may have a chance, then he or she will begin to prepare and investigate the appeal properly, and also prepare justification for the application being out of time if it is longer than 28 days since sentence. This will be the same process whether it is out of time by a week or out of time by a year or longer.

It is very important for anyone who wants to appeal with a new solicitor to bear in mind the reasons and guidance provided in our page entitled ‘Can I Appeal my Criminal Conviction?’ on the toolbar on the left of this screen.

Rejected Applications

Single Judge Rejections

In the case where Grounds of Appeal has been rejected at the first stage (The Single Judge Stage) there is an option available to request that the application is still put forward to the full Court regardless. However, this option needs to be considered very carefully as it can carry harsh penalties if the appeal is ultimately refused. Such penalties include the potential for any time already spent in custody (up until the point of the refusal by the Court of Appeal) to not be counted as part of the sentence. In other works, there is a risk that you would have to start your sentence again from scratch. This is very unlikely to be the case if Counsel advised that your application should still be put forward despite a rejection by the Single Judge.

Full Court of Appeal Refusals

If an application reaches the Full Appellate Court and is not successful, there are still options available should you disagree with the Court’s decision. One such avenue is to submit an application to the Criminal Cases Review Commission (C.C.R.C) who will then appoint a case worker to investigate your concerns. In the United Kingdom, this is generally the only way that you can have your case referred back to the appellate courts.

You cannot make an application to the C.C.R.C until you have first been rejected by the Court of Appeal.

Talk to a lawyer

0161 794 0088

Learn more about:

specialists in serious and complex cases

Discuss your options with a specialist criminal solicitor

Mary Monson

Mary Monson

Principal
Joseph Kotrie-Monson

Joseph Kotrie-Monson

Criminal Lawyer
Liam Kotrie

Liam Kotrie

Criminal Lawyer
Kellie Dent

Kellie Dent

Criminal Lawyer
Graham Rishton

Graham Rishton

Criminal Lawyer
Alex Chowdhury

Alex Chowdhury

Criminal Lawyer
Natasha McGarr

Natasha McGarr

Criminal Lawyer

speak to a lawyer now

0161 794 0088

we get most cases dropped before charge

Send us a confidential message and we get back to you as soon as possible

Bail – the Best Approach

EXPERT LEGAL GUIDE FROM SPECIALIST SOLICITORS

Applying for bail, what are bail conditions, and what is the best approach?

Mary Monson Solicitors have been successfully applying for bail week in week out over the last five decades in both the Magistrates Court and on serious matters in the Crown Court.

READ MORE

talk to a lawyer today

0161 794 0088

REQUEST A CALLBACK

Mary Monson Solicitors have been successfully applying for bail week in week out over the last five decades in both the Magistrates Court and on serious matters in the Crown Court such as high level drugs cases, and even offences of serious violence. In 2013, we were even criticised by right wing newspaper the Daily Mail for our abilities in achieving bail for our clients, which we regard as a vindication of the hard work we do for our clients. But what is the best approach? What exactly are bail conditions, and what does a specialist bail solicitor’s preparation entail?

How to get the best result for the client in a criminal case?

Bail a brief guide

Applying for and being granted bail during court proceedings is presumed to be something that a defendant is entitled to except in certain circumstances. The prosecution can only make an objection before a defendant is convicted if one or more of three conditions are met. These grounds for refusing bail are:

  • That the defendant will fail to appear at court to answer his/her bail
  • That the defendant will commit other offences while on bail
  • That there is a risk that the defendant will interfere with prosecution witnesses

Bail objection Failure to appear

A court will usually look at the following factors when deciding whether a defendant applying for bail is likely to not return to answer his or her bail, and whether conditions are necessary.

Previous record of not appearing to answer bail

Evidence of previous €œbail offences€ might show this, and this is information that will often be available on the previous convictions printout of the defendant that the court will have. If there is a bad bail attendance record, convincing explanations of what happened on those occasions and reasons why they are less significant than they seem have to be presented to the court.

Whether the defendant has ties to the community

It is often harder for immigrants to get bail when accused of imprisonable offences, because Judges are concerned that they will simply return to their native country to avoid conviction. Similarly, if a defendant’s lifestyle has an international element, ties to family and financial interests in the UK need to be shown to show that relocation to a different country is unlikely.

Seriousness of the offence, and strength of the evidence

This is not an official reason for a court to not grant bail, but for serious offences, the theory is that if the evidence is strong then so is the chance of a long prison sentence, and therefore the chance of the defendant not turning up to court is higher. This argument can be the single most problematic for any application for bail where a serious offence such as, for example, murder or armed robbery.

Bail objection Further offences on bail

A court will be less likely to give bail where there is a recent history of offending while on bail for other offences. Again, the court will have access to this information through the defendant’s previous convictions printout (or Antecedents). The court will be less concerned if the previous offences are not of a similar or equally serious category to the offence charged. If someone is charged with robbery, but has previous offences committed while on bail for driving whilst disqualified, a good defence team will ask the court to give the previous offences less weight.

Bail objection Interference with witnesses

The prosecution can object to bail on the grounds that keeping the defendant in prison will prevent him or her from interfering with prosecution witnesses, i.e. to stop them giving evidence in the trial, or getting them to change their evidence. This has to be argued on the facts, and is more likely to prevent bail if the defendant knows or has contact with the witnesses in question. In some cases threats and intimidation are part of the allegations, and this can make it easier for the prosecution to claim that witnesses are likely to be interfered with if the defendant is granted bail.

What are bail conditions?

Bail conditions are requirements the court gives to a defendant who is applying for bail so that he or she does not have to remain in prison before the proceedings are ended.

They allow the defence team’s bail solicitors to answer the objections the prosecution may raise to bail. Some common conditions that a court may impose include:

Curfew / residence requirement

The court can make a requirement that the defendant live at a certain address, often away from the alleged victim in the case. This can potentially be something that the court will take into account when considering what are bail conditions that would deal with the following issues:

  1. For the fear of the defendant absconding, the defendant is at a fixed address and easy for the police to keep tabs on.
  2. For the fear of the defendant interfering with witnesses, the bail address could be far away from the scene of the alleged crime.
  3. For the fear of further offences on bail, residence far away from the scene of the alleged crime or a curfew requirement can keep a defendant away from potentially criminal situations so further offences are less likely. Many offences of course happen at night and in licensed premises which are busy at night.

Reporting requirement

This allows the police to keep aware of the rough location of a defendant as they will have to report to a police station three or more times per week. This means that the police will be made aware quickly if they abscond.

Surety / Security

Surety and security are two important tools for a bail application for any serious offence. They are financial assurances made to the court usually by family members of the defendant, to guarantee his or her attendance at court whilst on bail.

  • Security is money paid into court before the defendant is allowed out on bail.This must be paid into court in cash or other cleared funds.
  • Surety is money promised to the court by third parties (e.g. family members), and only paid if the defendant does not answer his bail or turn up to court. This can be in the form of money left in the third party’s bank account, or other assets (such as equity in a house).

Documentary evidence must be provided to the court showing that this money is available, or that assets equivalent to that amount exist. This could be in the form of a bank statement or a mortgage statement accompanied by a house valuation.

A good bail application for a serious Crown Court offence (e.g. murder, drug importation etc.) will include a combination of both security (money paid) and surety (money promised). The precise amount required varies, but must be a good proportion of the assets of the person providing the asset / money. The amount offered by the bail solicitors on behalf of the surety or security provider needs to be enough that it would financially hurt the provider if the defendant did not answer his bail.

Conditions of non-contact with witnesses

This is something that should be offered wherever the alleged victim is said to have suffered in any type of attack, or where there are already allegations of any interference with witnesses, or a possibility of it. Cases which involve intimidation such as blackmail or allegations of threatening behaviour etc. are relevant here.

A condition of non-contact with prosecution witnesses is often not enough on its own to secure bail, but can be necessary as a first consideration when a defence lawyer is considering what are bail conditions which should be offered in order to achieve freedom before trial for the client.

What is the best approach in applying for bail?

Of course, it is not the case that simply because the prosecution raise an objection to bail, then the Judge will not grant bail. A good defence team’s bail solicitors will prepare a bail application which will predict that the prosecution will raise certain objections and answer them in advance by being prepared to attack them and offering the judge bail conditions. The goal is to beat the prosecution to the punch, increasing the chance of bail being granted, by wrong-footing the prosecution objections.

Preparation

As with most legal work of any description, there is no substitute for a preparing thoroughly when applying for bail. Good preparation of a bail application will raise avenues of inquiry that bail solicitors should follow to firm up. For most Crown Court cases, the defendant will only have one chance to make a bail application, so every piece of background supporting evidence has to be presented to the court, and the notice of application sent to the court before the hearing must include all the supporting documentation. If an important document relating to, say, a mortgage statement for a surety is not provided at this stage, there may not be a second chance. This may delay the application. It can be sometimes be unpleasant but essential that the application waits a few days so that the defendant does not spend several months in custody after an unsuccessful bail application.

Bail is not a foregone conclusion for any serious offences, and applications must be treated with care and meticulously prepared.

Talk to a lawyer

0161 794 0088

Learn more about:

specialists in serious and complex cases

Discuss your options with a specialist criminal solicitor

Mary Monson

Mary Monson

Principal
Joseph Kotrie-Monson

Joseph Kotrie-Monson

Criminal Lawyer
Liam Kotrie

Liam Kotrie

Criminal Lawyer
Kellie Dent

Kellie Dent

Criminal Lawyer
Graham Rishton

Graham Rishton

Criminal Lawyer
Alex Chowdhury

Alex Chowdhury

Criminal Lawyer
Natasha McGarr

Natasha McGarr

Criminal Lawyer

speak to a lawyer now

0161 794 0088

we get most cases dropped before charge

Send us a confidential message and we get back to you as soon as possible

What to Expect at the Police Station?

EXPERT LEGAL GUIDE FROM SPECIALIST SOLICITORS

What to Expect at the Police Station – A Basic Guide

When the Police knock at the door, or arrest a person at home or elsewhere, the shock of being interrogated can be very distressing. What happens at the Police Station can be absolutely critical in deciding the case and we would always advise somebody to have a lawyer present with them for a Police Station Interview.

READ MORE

talk to a lawyer today

0161 794 0088

REQUEST A CALLBACK

The Initial Contact by the Police and the ‘chat down the station’.

When the police are investigating an allegation, they will often contact a suspect on the telephone if they haven’t arrested them already and invite them to the Police Station for ‘a chat’, often saying things like ‘we need to hear your side of the story’ or ‘I’m neutral in this, and I’m just trying to see what has happened’. Investigating offers are sometimes trained to use methods like this to put a suspect off his or her guard so that he or she feels relaxed and cooperates in full with the Police on their terms, often incriminating himself or herself in the process.

It is very important that any communication you ever have with an investigating Police Officer takes place either through a lawyer or in the presence of a lawyer. Even things that you say on the phone to a police officer can in some cases be used in court against you. Sometimes a police officer will not even explain that coming into the station ‘for a chat’ can mean being interviewed under arrest by appointment. A person can attend at the Police Station on this basis, not having had time to organise the lawyer of their choice beforehand, and find themselves in court the next morning having been kept in a cell overnight with a duty solicitor they didn’t choose. The solution is to never discuss anything to do with an allegation directly with a police officer without first having a lawyer there. In most cases, a lawyer of your choice can be provided on a legally aided basis for free, and a police officer will never have reason to be surprised if they hear from your lawyer and not you at first.

Occasionally, officers have been known to say to suspects that waiting for a solicitor will take longer and if they want a matter dealt with then they can go ahead without one. In some cases, it has been heard that suspects are even told they do not need a lawyer. Under no circumstances should you not have a lawyer during a police station interview, even if you believe you have nothing to hide. The police may put themselves forward as being in a neutral fact finding role, but in the context of a police interview, this misrepresents the truth. In England and Wales, the criminal law is based on an adversarial system. That means that it is the police’s goal to get a suspect arrested, charged and convicted, and the defence lawyer’s job to prevent this. On top of this, the police often face intense pressure from the media and the government to improve arrest and conviction rates for every reported crime, and this can mean that the result they are forced to aim for is not necessarily the truth, but a criminal conviction.

How to get the best result for the client in a criminal case?

The Police Interview Process 3 stages

The police station interview process occurs in three main stages which all occur during one period of stay at the police station (which can last from a few hours to a few days).

The first stage is called disclosure. This is when information about the allegations is provided by the police to the solicitor, without the client present. There is no duty for the police to provide before or during the interview all the information in any witness statements they have taken. In fact, well trained officers will use this to their advantage, purposely withholding information to ambush the client with new evidence, either later during the recorded interview or afterwards in court. The solicitor will try to ask questions of the interviewing officer during disclosure, but will often only be able to get limited information. With this in mind, an attitude of caution should be present in the solicitor’s advice to the client about whether to make any comment in interview at all.

The second stage of the interview process consists of the solicitor and client being allowed time in a private consultation room in the police station to discuss what the solicitor knows about the allegations and what the client’s answer to the allegations is. This conversation is confidential and does not need to be disclosed to the police. The solicitor cannot advise the client to put forward a false story in the recorded interview with officers, but can advise the client to make no comment, and this is often a good idea (see below). It is during this stage that the solicitor and client will decide whether the client should answer questions during the interview, give a prepared written statement, or make no comment.

The interview itself is tape recorded and takes place with one or two officers, the defence solicitor and the suspect present. First of all, the police should warn the suspect of the right to silence, and that the contents of the interview can be used against him or her as evidence in a criminal court. This introduction is called the Caution, and contains the following information:

  • You have a right to silence
  • Whatever you say can be used against you in a criminal case in court
  • If you don’t mention something now which you mention later a court might ask why you didn’t mention it at the first opportunity

The police will usually put the main allegations to the suspect in quite a conversational way. There has been a move away from the more aggressive type of interview that was prevalent in the 1980s and 1970s (when suspects would often leave arrive in court the next morning with physical injuries – a practice that is rarer now) to a more sophisticated type of interview, where a police officer will often attempt to befriend the suspect and encourage him or her to talk.

Interviews No Comment?

The suspect will have three options as to how he or she responds to the interview questions. The first, and for serious offences usually the most sensible, is to make no comment. There is a possibility that the defence case may be slightly damaged as a result of making no comment. However, the danger of worse damage being done by answering questions in an interview is often much greater. During interview, the client and solicitor do not usually know the full details of the allegations or the exact evidence in the case, so for the client to chain him or herself down to a story at this stage can be a very bad idea. Even if the client makes a mistake in the interview, this can look like a lie later on in court, and it was all because the client was caught off guard with a question he or she didn’t expect.

Forensic evidence in serious cases is not usually ready by the time of the interview. If a client makes a comment denying his or her presence at a scene and later in the case DNA evidence comes to light which proves that person was there, then that can seriously damage the client’s case. Even if there was another reason that the client lied earlier, a lie which has been exposed can be as damaging as a confession.

In many cases, the police do not even have enough evidence to charge a suspect before the interview, but the suspect fills in the missing pieces and allows the police to charge him or her just by confirming that he was at the scene of the alleged crime. In that situation, if the client simply answered ‘no comment’ to all questions, the case may not proceed for lack of evidence. It is this type of issue that make ‘no comment’ the advice most often given by good police station solicitors.

Giving a Prepared Statement?

This is an alternative to making no comment in which a client discloses his or her defence without risking being ambushed by a police officer who throws him or her off guard with an unexpected question. This can be useful depending on the circumstances. It is preferable to answering questions as they arise in open interview, but the police can still ambush the client later in the interview with evidence they have withheld which contradicts the client’s prepared statement. This means that a prepared statement can be some protection against surprise questions from a police officer, but it is by no means always a safe option.

Answering Questions?

Answering questions as the police officer puts them to you in interview should only be considered in very few circumstances. Where the allegation is very simple, and the client’s denial is clear and very obvious, this may be a good idea. But this should be approached with extreme caution, and is not usually a good idea for situations in which there is so much as a grain of truth to the allegations and the client is hoping to plead not guilty. By putting him or herself in the interview and allowing the police to control the situation by asking the questions they choose, the client is playing a dangerous game. The police are trained in interviewing suspects, and are often very skilled at making them make mistakes which convict them in court later.

Where the evidence is absolutely overwhelming, it is sometimes a good idea for the client to answer all questions and admit what has happened. Such occasions are rare, however, because they prevent the defence from seeing if they can negotiate later down the line in court. Even where the evidence is strong, if the prosecution does not have a confession from the client in their papers when the case reaches court, they may often be prepared to do a deal to reduce the charges or the seriousness of the allegations.

How long can the Police keep a suspect in a cell and on what basis?

The maximum period of time that a suspect can be detained at the police station is 24 hours. This period may be extended up to a total of 36 hours if an officer of the rank of superintendent or above authorises it.

In certain circumstances the magistrates court may extend the detention time for a period of 72 hours.

These circumstances are:

  • That the detention is necessary to secure or preserve evidence or to obtain evidence by questioning
  • The person is under arrest for a serious arrestable offence (this may mean, for example, robbery or a serious assault)
  • That the investigation is being conducted diligently and expeditiously.

At the end of the detention time the person in police detention must be charged or released.

Outcomes at the Police Station – Charged, Bailed Back, or No Further Action

There are three potential outcomes of an interview at the police station.

A person can be charged (this means the decision has been made to bring them to court) and either taken to a magistrates court the next morning or released to attend the magistrates court by appointment, usually within a week.

A person can also be bailed to attend again at the police station at a later date. This means they have to come back to the police station to find out if they are going to be charged or not. This is usually called being ‘bailed pending further enquiries’ because in the meantime the police will make further inquiries, or will wait for the Crown Prosecution Service to decide if the person is going to be charged.

No Further Action means that the case is dropped, because the prosecution do not believe that there is a strong enough case to convict. This does not mean that a charge cannot be brought later if more evidence is discovered, but in most cases it is the end of the matter.

Talk to a lawyer

0161 794 0088

Learn more about:

specialists in serious and complex cases

Discuss your options with a specialist criminal solicitor

Mary Monson

Mary Monson

Principal
Joseph Kotrie-Monson

Joseph Kotrie-Monson

Criminal Lawyer
Liam Kotrie

Liam Kotrie

Criminal Lawyer
Kellie Dent

Kellie Dent

Criminal Lawyer
Graham Rishton

Graham Rishton

Criminal Lawyer
Alex Chowdhury

Alex Chowdhury

Criminal Lawyer
Natasha McGarr

Natasha McGarr

Criminal Lawyer

speak to a lawyer now

0161 794 0088

we get most cases dropped before charge

Send us a confidential message and we get back to you as soon as possible