Being accused of a criminal offence is always very serious. If you find yourself in that position you need the best possible legal advice and representation.
Being accused of a crime can have life changing consequences. If you convicted by a court the legal consequences, depending on the type of case, can include:
- Prison or community service,
- A fine or confiscation of your assets under the Proceeds of Crime Act,
- Having to pay considerable court costs,
- Disqualification from driving, holding other types of licence or being a company director,
- Orders that prevent you pursuing certain forms of employment or other interests.
The personal consequences of being convicted of a crime are often devastating and frequently include:
- Loss of employment,
- Break-up of relationships,
- Loss of contact with children,
- Financial strain leading to loss of your home or other damage to your life,
- Massive harm to your reputation and standing in the community.
If you are arrested, investigated or charged with a criminal offence you owe it to yourself and your dependants to have the best possible legal assistance.
What I can do to help you
Before you are charged
If someone accuses you of an offence, or your are under investigation but not yet charged the ways I can help you include:
- Advising you on the law that relates to what you are being investigated for and whether the investigation is being conducted in a lawful way,
- Assisting you at interviews,
- Assisting you in responding to the investigation,
- Make representations to the police or CPS or other authority as to why the matter should not be taken further.
I also have a certain amount of public relations experience and will be able to advise and assist you on dealing with any media enquiries or put you in touch with other professionals who have expertise in that field. I also have links with a very experienced company who can help defend your reputation in the press and media.
If you are charged
If you are charged (i.e. formally accused by the police so that the case will be going to court) ways I can help you include:
- Advising you on what you are charged with, what the prosecution need to prove and what legal defences may be available to you,
- Advising you on how strong or weak the case against you is and what your prospects of success would be at trial,
- Whether you have grounds to ask the court to stop the case without going to trial (such as applications to dismiss or an application to stay the case as an abuse of process),
- Whether you should plead guilty or not guilty and what is likely to happen in either case.
If you are not guilty
If you plead not guilty and the case goes to trial I can provide you with high quality representation in court. Representation by a barrister in a criminal trial, whatever the type of offence, is almost always far more effective than representing yourself. As your barrister I can use my skills to, where there are grounds to do so:
- Ask the judge to dismiss the case before trial or during the court of the trial is the evidence is weak,
- Challenge the admissibility of evidence that the prosecution want to use against you,
- Cross-examine any witnesses against you,
- Call you and other witnesses to give evidence in your defence,
- Make an effective closing speech to the jury or magistrates to persuade them to find you not guilty.
If the case is dismissed or you are found not guilty I can, where appropriate, make a legal application to recover your legal costs.
If you plead guilty or are found guilty I can help you by:
- Advising you on your rights of appeal and representing you in your appeal,
- Making an effective "plea in mitigation" to persuade the judge or magistrates to keep any sentence or punishment as light as possible,
- Defending you in confiscation proceedings (where the authorities see to seize your assets - this will frequently follow in cases related to property or where you are accused of committing an offence for financial gain).
If you have been convicted of an offence and the court made an order restricting you from certain behaviour (such as a disqualification from driving or a restraining order) I can give you advice an applying to have the order varied (i.e. changed) or lifted entirely.
Who can bring criminal charges against you
Criminal charges are most often brought by the police and Crown Prosecution Service. They are also brought by local councils and agencies such as the Health & Safety Executive and Revenue & Customs. They can also be brought by individuals in what are called "private prosecutions."
You can be charged as an individual or jointly with others. You can be charged with assisting another offender or being part of a conspiracy, which is where two or more people agree to commit an offence. A number of different legal issues arise depending how you are charged and it is important to have legal advice about this.
Types of offence that you can be charged with
There is a huge range of offences that a person can be charged with in England & Wales. I have professional experience in all of these listed below, and more:
- Homicide (murder and manslaughter) and non-fatal violent offences such as assault, battery, wounding, causing grievous bodily harm. Such offences can be charged "with intent" or "on a reckless basis". Possible legal defences to such a charge include self-defence, defence of another person, defence of property, duress of circumstances, an intervening act, mistaken identity or that the violent act alleged never happened.
- Theft, fraud, money laundering, abuse of position and handling criminal property and related offences. The heart of these types of offence entail treating property of someone else as if it was your won property, in a dishonest way. It will usually be alleged that you were acting out of greed for financial gain. The allegations may be very simple (that you took a certain item on a particular day) or very complicated involving thousands of pages of evidence and concerning events or transactions over many years. The main legal defences to these types of charges are that you did not appropriate (i.e. take or use) the property in question or you did not act dishonestly.
- Public order offences. These offences tend to concern behaviour in public places and will usually entail an allegation that a person behaved in an abusive or threatening way. The main legal defences are mistaken identity, that the behaviour complained of did not take place or that the behaviour was reasonable. There have been many cases in recent years of these charges being used wrongly against people doing nothing wrong, such as photographers taking pictures of buildings and people exercising their lawful right to protest.
- Blackmail, harassment, threats and malicious communications. These offences concern unpleasant behaviour by one person towards another. Blackmail is to demand with menaces something you are not entitled to. Harassment is a course of conduct that causes a person distress ("stalking" is one example of harassment). These types of cases frequently concern online behaviour. Legal defences may include that you were not the person responsible for the behaviour alleged or that it did not take place.
- Criminal damage and arson. It is an offence to damage property belonging to someone else. Arson is criminal damage involving fire and is treated very seriously by the courts because of its unpredictable results and possible threats to human life.
- Misconduct in public office. This is an often career-ending offence that can be brought against police officers, prison officers civil servants, holders of elected offices, members of HM Armed Forces and people working in a wide range of public services. It can cover many different types of alleged misconduct. Defences in such a case may entail both factual disputes (challenging the facts alleged) and legal argument (for example as to whether what is said to have occurred amounts to misconduct in the sense required for there to be an offence).
- Sexual offences. There are a wide range of sexual offences. Few types of offence carry a heavier social stigma. Sexual assault is, generally speaking, any touching of another person in a sexual way without their consent or a reasonable belief that the consented. Rape, which will almost always carry a lengthy prison sentence if you are convicted, is a sexual assault that involved penetration. Sexual activity with a person under age will by definition be a sexual assault as a person underage cannot legally give consent. Other sexual offences concern possessing indecent images of children and acts of voyeurism. These are very serious offences that always carry a risk of grave consequences if you are convicted. If you are wrongly accused of such an offence, expert legal advice is essential.
- Road traffic, or motoring, offences. Please see my dedicated page on motoring law cases.
There are many other types of offence, which are too numerous to list here.
Legal aid is sometimes available for criminal matters, subject to government means testing. If you wish to be represented with the benefit of legal aid you will need a solicitor as well as a barrister and I will be pleased to recommend a solicitor to you.
I am passionate about ensuring that anyone charged with a criminal offence gets a fair trial according to the highest principles of justice and the best possible chance to defend themselves. Please do not hesitate to contact me.