Appeal

29 Mar

Whether you have pleaded guilty or have been found guilty by either the Magistrates’ Court or the Crown Court, an appeal might be appropriate in some circumstances.

Every defendant has an automatic right of appeal. This is at the Crown Crown in relation to any conviction or sentence imposed at the Magistrates’ Court.

In order to appeal against conviction or sentence from the Crown Court requires permission from the Court of Appeal.

Your criminal defence solicitors will advise you regarding any potential appeal upon conviction and sentence. They will particularly be looking at whether any points of law were wrong or whether the sentence is manifestly excessive.

There is a limited time window for lodging an appeal so it is essential to start the paperwork rolling straight away. Particularly if you are in custody and there may be delay in receiving and sending post.

Murder & Manslaughter

7 Mar

These offences are the most heinous in the criminal justice system. These offences should only be dealt with by experts. Not only do they carry the most strongest sentences, but they can also be the most challenging both to defend and for the clients facing the charge.

It is essential to instruct only the best criminal defence solicitors to conduct any murder case. Often firms have specific departments dealing with only these most serious offences. This enables them to prepare the best and most effective defence possible for their clients.? When someone can get the ultimate sentence of life imprisonment, the level of service they should and will expect from their legal team?

Murder

Murder is committed when a person of “sound mind” unlawfully kills another, with the intention to either kill or cause “grievous bodily harm” (GBH)

This offence is indictable only which means that it can only ever be tried at a Crown Court before a Judge and Jury. After one single appearance before a Magistrates’ Court, the case will be Sent under S51 of Crime and Disorder Act 1998 directly to the Crown Court.

Murder carries a mandatory life sentence for an adult. People convicted under the age of 18 are detained “at Her Majesty’s pleasure”.

Manslaughter

When a person kills someone but intends only to hurt them, or to exert some force on them, this is called manslaughter, and is generally considered to be a much less serious offence. With murder, the intention of the attacker has to be to either commit really serious harm or to kill. With manslaughter, although the end result is a death, the attacker must only be intending to do some harm, or being negligent or reckless as to whether some harm would be involved.

Attempted Murder

To be guilty of attempted murder, a person must have the intention to kill another person, and have done something “more than merely preparatory” to commit the offence. For example if you stabbed at someone with a knife, but did not succeed it is more likely to be considered attempted murder. But generally attempted murder will usually involve an attempt so serious that death could possibly have followed from the actions of the accused.

Prepare a Murder Case?

Murder cases will often involve reams of physical and paper exhibits. It may require dozens of experts from forensic scientists to examine blood, dna, ballistics, fingerprints, cctv, or medical professionals such as pathologists, psychiatrists, or general medical professionals. These are to ensure that every avenue for the clients possible defence is aggressively pursued. Even small things might assist the clients case to swing even one jury member.

Each murder case is unique and has its own challenges. But solicitors specialised in serious criminal cases know how to deal with these cases. They will ensure that the client’s defence is thoroughly examined with all lines of enquiry followed. Conferences will be arranged with the counsel or advocate who will be conducting the defence to ensure that they understand the issues. Every piece of prosecution evidence will be read through and the client taken through each piece step by step. The client is entitled to know everything their defence team has uncovered.

Naturally for these serious offences it is usual for the defendant to be remanded into custody and therefore we secure lengthy prison visits to discuss the allegation privately in extensive detail. We will also use the court appearances to have further conferences to discuss the case. The team will also be contactably by phone or letter and will constantly be able to answer your questions and support you through this very difficult and stressful period.

Crown Court

22 Jan

Only the most serious of offences can be dealt with at the Crown Court

You will need a solicitor-advocate or barrister to represent you at the Crown Court when you’re charged with a crime. They can help prepare your defence before you go to court and speak on your behalf during a trial and/or sentence hearing.

You may be able to get legal aid to pay the solicitors’ or barristers’ costs if:
• it is in the Interests of Justice that you are represented (eg if the offence is imprisonable)
• you are financially eligible which is tested via a means test which looks at your financial situation

To find out if you can get legal aid to pay for this, you’ll need to give your solicitor:
• information about your finances (and those of your partner if you are married or living together)
This includes income including wage/salary and interests/savings. It also includes expenditure like rent/mortgage, council tax, child maintenance
and any benefits that you receive.

For those who are self employed they will be required to provide HMRC accounts, bank statements, etc. For information speak to your solicitor.

The Crown Court deals with cases which include;
• Cases sent for trial by Magistrates’ Courts because the offences are indictable-only, meaning so serious that they can only ever be dealt with by the Crown Court) such as murder, rape, robbery, perverting the course of justice.
• Either-way offences (which can be heard in a Magistrates’ Court, but can also be sent to the Crown Court if the defendant elects a jury trial) such as Burglary, Assault Occasioning Actual Bodily Harm
• Defendant’s convicted in Magistrates’ Courts, but sent to the Crown Court for sentencing due to the seriousness of the offence.
• Appeals on conviction from the Magistrates’ Courts.

Most criminal defence solicitors such as Mortons have Serious Crime departments dealing solely with these serious matters. Their expertise is to ensure that they instruct on the best qualified solicitor-advocates and barristers to represent you at court. This ensures that you have the best chance of success at court. For example there are barristers who deal primarily in sexual offences, others in drug importation and supply.

If you haven’t yet instructed a Solicitor to represent you at the Magistrates Court and/or Crown Court and you are anxious about appearing, then get in touch with Mortons via their website.

Magistrates Court

11 Jan

So you’ve been charged with a criminal offence and you are now due to appear before your local Magistrates Court.

Most people attend the Magistrates Court under their own steam. With only a few being remanded and brought before the court, usually only for serious offences or where there is risk to victims and witnesses or a history of not answering court or police bail.

If you’ve never been to the Magistrates or Youth Courts before it can be an overwhelmingly anxious in of its self, regardless of the offence which you are due in court for.

This is why it is likely that you will want to arrange for a Criminal Defence Solicitor if you have not already done so. If you had your own or a duty solicitor at the police then it would be normal for them to continue with the case in most circumstances, although it is your decision and if you weren’t ultimately happen with them you can instruct another firm.

It is important to use a firm who you trust as you will likely to be relying on them to support, advise and represent you at the Magistrates.

Legal aid is available for imprisonable offences (subject to your financial eligibility which is decided by means-tested forms). For non-imprisonable offences such as most driving offences you may have to pay privately to instruct the solicitor of your choice.

If you don’t have a solicitor yet there is also the duty solicitor who will be available to use on the day, but they may have many other cases and can’t run a trial for you.

If you aren’t eligible for legal aid and can’t afford to pay for a solicitor then you might represent yourself. However in certain cases such as domestic violence it would not be appropriate for your to cross- examine the victim or witnesses if the matter proceeds to trial. It is therefore likely that the court would instruct a local firm of solicitors to cross examine them on your behalf which wouldn’t cost you anything. They would only cross examine and not do the trial for you.

It is really recommended to instruct a solicitor prior to the hearing date. Particularly if you are working or self employed. Why? Because you may not necessarily be eligible for legal aid and the court is unlikely to allow for the first hearing to be adjourned to wait for a decision about legal aid. Secondly legal aid is not granted retrospectively, so if the legal aid is not submitted on the first opportunity, or it is ultimately refused, you could be in-line for a surprise bill.

There are vast differences in the experience, quality and the effectiveness of different firms and different solicitors within the firms. You need to have confidence in your appointed solicitor as they will be working on your behalf. If you instruct your solicitor prior to the hearing you will discover who will be acting for you and whether you think they will be any good! If you haven’t got a solicitor and/or are unsure about who to instruct then there are various sources to find out the best firms.

– Friends and family
If you know anyone who has been in trouble with the police or courts recently and ask them who they used and whether they could recommend anyone in particular.
– Law Society
The law society has a list of firms and the solicitors.
– Internet
In Google and other Solicitors directories you will find a wealth of criminal defence solicitors in your area.
In others such as the GoodLawyerGuide they rate various solicitors based on various factors and client reviews.

Once you’ve found some criminal defence firms give them a ring and arrange for an appointment to see one. Most firms have appointments in the afternoons as the solicitors are usually at the Magistrates Courts in the mornings. Although the Solicitor will only be able to talk in generalities until they have had the opportunity at Court to obtain a copy of the advance information about the case from the Crown Prosecutor. Basically this is the evidence including witness statements. The Solicitor will also be able to explain to you some of the procedures at court and explain to you from start to finish how the hearing is likely to be played out.

On the day of court arrive in plenty of time and before the time on your bail sheet. Although most courts start slightly later than that time the court could essentially call the case on early and if you were not present you could be in breach of your bail and a warrant issued for your arrest.

Each court has a different layout and procedure but in most you need to sign in at reception to say you have arrived. Then find out which Court room that you are going to be in. There will be a person in the black gown. These people are the Court Ushers and each courtroom usually has one of its own. Identify yourself to this person so that they know you have arrived.

Most cases are not in pre-defined list with all of them usually listed for the same time. Once the Solicitors arrive to meet you, they will explain and take care of the rest.

Motoring & Road Traffic Offences

8 Jan

What is meant by “Motoring offences”?

Examples include

Speeding offences
Speed camera cases
Mobile phone driving offences
Insurance offences
Traffic light offences
Vehicle defect offences
Failing to stop/report an accident
Disqualified driving*
Dangerous or careless driving*
Drink driving*

Most motoring offences (except those starred) are non-imprisonable and therefore not elligible for legal aid for representation at the Magistrates Court.

If you have been charged or summonsed for a motoring offence then you should seek the assistance of a motoring law solicitor.
A good lawyer will be able to assist with for example Penalty points on your licence and totting up, Saving your driving licence, Restoring your driving licence, Making Special reasons.

Most work is undertaken on a private client basis (often for an agreed fixed fee upfront). Good lawyers cost what they are worth! Just think how valuable is your licence to you. Would you struggle to get to work? Do you rely on your vehicle? Could you lose your job? Do you have children or assisting vulnerable people such as the elderly?

Don’t dither about it. Seek legal advice as they may be able to prevent you from losing your licence. Know where you stand, don’t rely on gossip about the offence as its rarely correct and you could end up losing your licence for the sake of a phone call. Ensure before your do anything that you get the right advice to see if you have a chance of victory.

Alot of criminal defence solicitors have specialist solicitors dealing in Motoring Offences on a daily basis. If you don’t have a friend or relative who can recommend one for you then look no further than the internet. Google has amassed a plethora of links to highly qualified and reputable firms

If you are looking for professional specialist motoring law solicitors search Google for “Motoring Law Solicitor”.

Advice & Assistance in The Police Station

8 Jan

Whenever people attend the police station by arrangement, as a volunteer or are under arrest you are entitled to FREE Advice & Assistance from a legal representative. This may be a solicitor or an accredited representative. They will be able to provide prompt, courteous, professional advice and assistance to you.

When a person is arrested and brought to Custody the Custody Sergeant is required to explained to the detained person their rights and entitlements. If the person does not have a solicitor of their own to request then a duty solicitor can be arranged for them. The duty solicitor is independant from the police. Essentially local criminal defence firms work on a rota basis so one day the duty solicitor will be Mortons Solicitors, the next day it will be JoeBloggs Solicitors.

Should you then be asked whether you wish to nominate a solicitor, you should for example nominate your named firm such as Mortons Solicitors or request the duty solicitor. The police not allowed to try to dissuade you from requesting legal representation. Attendance of your chosen legal representative will not delay your release from custody. The police will invariably try to placate detained persons by insisting that they will only be an hour or so. However this is rarely the case.

If you are arrested and taken to a police station whether close to the Solicitors firm of your choice, for example Cheadle Heath Police Station or further a field we are able to speak to you, firstly by telephone and then to arrange for your personal representation at the police station.

Almost without exception it is in your interests to have legal advice and representation at the police station so that your legal rights are protected whilst you are in custody and you are appropriately advised and can make considered choices as to how to deal with and respond to a police investigation.

Firms have personnel available to provide helpful advise to you by telephone whilst at the police station, 24 hours a day 365 days a year. They can arrange for your representation at a police station and both telephone advice and advice and assistance in person at the police station are free of charge to you.

You can change your mind at any stage whilst in custody, even if you are about to be interviewed.

If you are asked to attend at the police station by appoinrment and the criminal defence solicito can make arrangements for you to be accompanied and cover the necessary administrative work beforehand and will ensure that your attendance at the police station is kept to a minimum.

Conclusion:
Never be interviewed by the police without a legal representative from a criminal defence solicitors.
If you are looking for friendly and professional criminal defence solicitors in North West which offer legal advice visit the Mortons Solicitors website
or search Google for “Criminal Defence Solicitor”.