No previous convictions?

Being investigated for a criminal offence is often a shock, but if you have no experience of the criminal justice system you are at an even bigger disadvantage.

We believe that someone who has never been convicted should not be more vulnerable than anyone else because they're inexperienced in this situation.

Our lawyers provide a tailored approach to each client, making sure they are supported, respected, fully in the loop, and get the best possible result to protect their career, reputation and liberty.

Recent success stories

Murder linked to Mark Duggan's Death - Not Guilty

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People with no convictions have a lot to lose and can feel more stress

Being accused of a criminal offence when you have no experience of the justice system is especially difficult.

One reason for this is that you find yourself in an unknown situation which the general experience you have in life doesn't prepare you for. It can seem as if everyone around you is acting as if this is a completely normal situation. Police often casually use words in connection with your actions that you may never have thought you would experience, such as 'suspect', 'crime', 'offence' or 'victim'.

On top of all that, if you've never been accused of an offence before, the fear of being convicted can hit you much harder.

People can be worried about career and future job prospects. This can lead to worry about supporting family members or about letting them down by being convicted.

The reputation damage caused by a case can't be measured in years or in financial terms, but it is still very real, and if prison is a possibility, the stress can be even worse.

The system doesn't make allowances for first timers - but it should

Everything is harder if you face a criminal case for the first time. The emotions are just more intense. Anger, disbelief, shock, vulnerability, fear - these can all lead to frustration and a feeling of helplessness.

Not understanding a problem can lead a person to speculate that it might be worse than it is. This is unhealthy and also illogical, but when it combines with all the other negative emotions it can cause sleepless nights or interfere with mental health.

Knowing what exactly you should tell family so they don't suffer unnecessarily, or employers or other people you have a responsibility to are also not straightforward questions.

Professionals and other vulnerable people often don't get treated appropriately for the first time in the justice system, but being sensitive with people isn't special treatment. It's just fair.

Even lawyers sometimes don't understand that a person with a reputation to protect can be more vulnerable than someone who has been in trouble before.

There are ways to avoid the damage - if you know what to ask for

You don't have to feel like you are stuck in a process which is headed towards you being convicted. Experts who specialise in defending people with no previous convictions are available to you.

First, they will listen to you to find out what is going on. This also means understanding your concerns, and your exact professional and personal worries.

They will be able to advise you on which possible outcomes in the case will damage you, and which kind will not harm you. Some professionals will be badly affected if they receive even a police caution, whereas others such as those working in finance have to avoid convictions for dishonesty.

A criminal lawyer who advises professionals and people with no previous convictions will know what advice to give to different clients, and how to successfully negotiate the outcome with police, with prosecutors and with the court. This way the person's livelihood and reputation can be kept intact.

We offer a tailored approach which gets results and protects clients

If you come to us and you have no previous convictions, we class your case as high-priority. This means that you are treated as a special case until your case is over.

This automatically means that extra care will be taken to explain what's going on, and also what's likely to happen so you aren't at a disadvantage over others in this situation.

We tailor our strategy to you and what you tell us needs to happen for the result to feel like a success. If this means a non-criminal outcome such as a community resolution so that your career is intact then we aim for that. If it means a not-guilty verdict so that your name is cleared then our investigation and preparation are focused on that outcome.

We also bring in key members to the team to improve your prospects. This can mean bringing in a KC (formerly QC) barrister to advise on strategy and to speak in court.

We take every opportunity to bring an early end to the case, pushing for your case to be discontinued by the police or CPS.

Do's and don'ts which will help you make the right decisions

  • Don't assume that everything will be fine just by trusting the police. Police don't usually have the time or motivation to go out of their way to help you. At best, they will only process you, and they are often focused on trying to get a suspect convicted.

  • Don't under any circumstances discuss the case with police officers except through lawyers. Whatever you say, even on the phone, could be noted down as evidence against you, even if you don't agree that this is what you actually said.

  • Do call us and speak for free to one of our specialist lawyers who defend clients with no previous convictions. At the very least you will understand more about what is going on.

  • Don't try to contact the complainant for any reason. This can backfire and result in a more serious case against you.

  • Do your research and find a lawyer who you think will treat your case seriously and want to help.

  • Don't despair. With the right advice and representation, many cases can be beaten before they reach court.

No-tricks fixed-fee pricing

We can usually offer a fixed fee instalment plan so you can plan for the expense, and so you can fund your case in stages while it is continuing.

Private representation

Once we have an idea of what kind of case you are facing and what work that will be necessary, we will then be able to provide you with a fixed fee quote. This means that you know before you commit how much your case will cost.

Representation at interview or court hearings
Analysing the evidence & investigating
Conferences with your lawyers
Negotiating with police or prosecutors

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Frequently asked questions

The first thing to remember is that a person can't be sentenced to prison unless the police or CPS make the decision to take the case to court, and then after that if the person is convicted, by pleading guilty at court or being found guilty. There are alternatives to a case going to court, and even if it does, there are several other ways a case can be dealt with even if the person is convicted, for example, by receding a suspended sentence or community-based penalty. These are often more likely if you are facing a conviction for the first time. We would recommend getting advice from a criminal solicitor who can help you by explaining what your chances are of each possible outcome.

Whether you get convicted very much depends on how a case ends at court. If the Magistrates or a Crown Court jury find you guilty then a criminal conviction nearly always follows and with it a criminal record, BUT a criminal record may not show on a DBS check or just be visible for a short time. This could depend on what the penalty is, the level of DBS check, and whether you were under 18 at the time.

Whether a person has to go to court if they are investigated is a big question, and it depends on several factors, such as the seriousness of the offence, how strong the evidence is, whether the complainant wants the case to go ahead, and whether the CPS or police can be persuaded to deal with the case another way. Having good lawyers in the early stages can help if you want a case not to proceed to court.

Whether to accept a caution, sometimes called a simple caution, is not straightforward, and depends on the circumstances of the allegation and the person who has been accused. It is correct to say that a caution is not a criminal conviction, but at the same time a caution does create a criminal record. In some situations, the caution will appear with some types of DBS criminal record check, and in those cases, it can last several years. For anyone in a career, regulated profession or other position of responsibility, such as caring for children or vulnerable people, a caution is often something to avoid, even if it does seem less dramatic than being convicted at court.

It can seem very frustrating when a criminal investigation starts just on the basis of a person’s accusation, especially where there is no supporting evidence. The police will usually regard themselves as duty bound to investigate an offence, at least by doing an interview, in a situation where if the allegation was true, it could result in a conviction. This could be because by having an interview, sometimes the evidence will come from the suspect admitting it. This of course means it is very important to have a lawyer in interview. Police will often just interview hoping that the suspect does the work for them by answering questions, where the best course of action is often to make no comment. If you are charged in a case where it is one person’s word against the other, it’s a good idea to remember that the jury in a criminal trial will usually demand more corroboration or they will be less likely to convict you.

A criminal case is not usually over very quickly. Even when the police deal with a low priority matter it is often days or weeks before a decision is made about whether the case will proceed to court. In more complex or serious cases just the investigation can take months, and if it reaches court, the wait until the case is over can take months or in some rare cases years. If police give estimates of it being over quickly, always take advice from your lawyer to see if this is realistic or not.

While you might hope that the police treat people who have no experience of the criminal justice system with more sensitivity and understanding, the sad truth is that they meet people with no previous convictions every day, and aren’t often much more lenient to them. As soon as police say they want to speak to you, or in police-speak ‘have a chat’, you should assume there is some danger and that you are in a situation you should not underestimate.

There isn’t a law which says that a person facing a criminal case has to tell their employer about it. That said, if you have a contract of employment or a set of rules related to your profession, you should check this to see what you have to disclose if anything. If the case goes to court, your name could in theory be published so that is worth bearing in mind.

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0161 794 0088

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Friday: 9:00 - 17:00

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We'll get back to you as soon as possible. We are happy to speak to you if you have a query, and either have a free consultation on the phone or in person if necessary.