SPECIALIST 24 HR CRIMINAL DEFENCE

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1 SPECIALIST 24 HR CRIMINAL DEFENCE What happens at the Police Station? Often the most important stage in any case is what happens in the police station. In most cases you will be under arrest and it may seem that the police can do what they want, this is not true. You have important rights: You have a right to have someone notified of your arrest; You have a right to read the rules that govern your treatment by the police whilst at the police station; You have a right to speak to an independent Solicitor free of charge; Your lawyer can: advice on the telephone and attend the police station to speak to you face to face and in private; make representations to the police on your behalf and ensure that you are treated fairly; advise you prior to, during and after any interview with the police. If the police arrest you or ask you to attend at the police station for an interview or wish to interview you at home you are entitled to have a solicitor of your choice present. Importantly it does not cost you anything regardless of your income and it will never delay you being released and is certain to assist in your case.

2 If you are a worried parent or friend of someone who has been arrested or you have been bailed to return to the police station contact us at any time for free advice and assistance. No matter is too simple to receive expert legal advice. Chambers Solicitors offers a 24 hour, 7 day a week service. You will always be advised by a Specialist Defence Solicitor. It will not delay matters to speak to a Specialist Criminal Defence Solicitor and may save you so much more than time. Our lawyers are highly experienced and offer a sensitive and sympathetic approach to any allegation you may be facing and will provide you with robust advice. Which happens if I am charged with an offence at the police station and need to attend court? All criminal cases start in the Magistrates Court and minor ('summary only') matters will stay in that court. A minor matter is any case where the maximum sentence is six months or less. Examples are careless driving; common assault and criminal damage (depending on value of damage). Some matters are so serious that only the Crown Court can deal with them. These are called 'indictable only' matters, examples are murder; causing death by dangerous driving; rape; causing grievous bodily harm with intent and robbery. The majority of criminal allegations can be heard either in the Magistrates Court or the Crown Court and are known as either way matters. In these cases, where the case will be heard is decided in the Magistrates Court, examples are dangerous driving, assault causing actual bodily harm and theft. We will of course advise you which type of allegation you face and the best Court to have your case heard.

3 WHAT HAPPENS AT COURT? The Magistrates' Court Your case may be adjourned for various reasons. For example, the Prosecution have to provide details of their evidence of the allegation so that we can advise you properly and this sometimes takes time, which means that your case often cannot be disposed of on your first appearance in court. A Solicitor will represent you from our office who will know the issues in your case; all our solicitors are very experienced in Magistrates' Court work. Normally you must attend court, however, sometimes it is possible to adjourn your case in your absence and we will advise you if this is possible; if you fail to attend Court when required to do so the proceedings may continue in your absence and this may result in you being convicted in your absence. If you admit the allegation, after receiving our advice, you will receive credit for an early guilty plea and a reduction in the sentence you might otherwise receive but this will depend on the stage of the proceedings when you pleaded. The Prosecution will then read their version of the facts to the Court. Often you will disagree with that version of events. We will make this clear to the court and if the Court feels that this disagreement cannot be resolved; it can order that a trial, known as a Newton Hearing, should take place to decide which version of events the court should accept. If the Court feels that the facts are too serious to be dealt with in the Magistrates Court, it will refuse to hear it further and adjourn your case to the Crown Court to be sentenced at a later date. If you plead not guilty to a 'summary only' matter your case will be adjourned to another date for trial when evidence will be heard by the Court. If your case is an 'either way' matter and you give no indication of plea or you plead not guilty, then the Prosecution read out their version of the facts and it does not matter whether you accept that version at this stage. If, after hearing our representations the Court takes the view that the Prosecution's case at it's highest is too serious to be dealt with in the Magistrates Court, they will refuse to hear your case.

4 Your case will then be adjourned for a 'committal', which is the legal step that moves your case from the Magistrates Court to the Crown Court. If the Magistrates agree that the facts of the case make it suitable to be heard in that Court, you have the choice of having it heard there or in the Crown Court. This is an important decision and we will advise you about this depending on the circumstances of your case, you should be aware, however, of some general considerations: The Crown Court tends to find people not guilty more often than the Magistrates' Court, especially when dealing with police evidence; The Crown Court's sentencing powers are a lot more severe than in the Magistrates' Court if you are found guilty; You will be represented by a Barrister or one of our Higher Court Advocate in the Crown Court; Appearing at the Crown Court is often more intimidating than in the Magistrates' Court; and In a Crown Court trial a jury of twelve people rather than three magistrates (or a District Judge) will decide whether you are guilty or not guilty. If you decide, following our advice, that you want to take your case to the Crown Court, your case will be adjourned for a committal hearing which will be once again in the Magistrates' Court. If you decide to stay in the Magistrates' Court, your case will be adjourned for trial. Crown Court If you are charged with a matter (an 'indictable only' allegation) that can only be tried at the crown court, your case will normally only appear in the Magistrates' Court once and your case will be transferred on a S.51 transfer to the Crown Court. Your case will be sent for the next hearing at the Crown Court in a matter of days. The Magistrates will not ask you for a plea and will only be concerned with preliminary matters such as bail and legal aid. In other cases you may elect to have your case tried at the Crown Court or the Magistrate Court may deem your case not suitable for trial at the Magistrate s Court because it is complex or their sentencing powers may not be sufficient.

5 Defence at the Crown Court At the Crown Court you will be represented by a Barrister or one of our Higher Court Solicitor Advocate who are lawyers who specialise in Crown Court work. Your defence will, however, be controlled and prepared by a representative from our office. We only instruct Barristers who we know are suitable for your case and who have the sufficient knowledge and expertise. It is important that if you have any views about the barrister you want to use that you let us know as soon as possible. It is important that you meet and speak to your Barrister. You are the most important person in your case, you know the most about it, and you should have confidence in him or her. If you plead guilty or are convicted at the Magistrates' Court and they have sent your case to the Crown Court, it is important that you co-operate with the Probation Service so that they can prepare a pre-sentence report about you. Your case will normally be dealt with on your first appearance at the Crown Court. If you have been charged with an 'indictable only ' matter the first hearing in the Crown Court is usually an administrative hearing which simply sets a timetable for your case. Your case will then be adjourned for a Plea and Directions Hearing. If you are charged with 'either way' matters, your case will be listed for a Plea and Case Management Hearing; this is when you will be asked to plead guilty or not guilty. If you plead guilty you may be sentenced by the judge there and then, or he may adjourn your case to find out more about you, usually by asking the Probation Service to prepare a pre-sentence report. It is important that you cooperate with the Probation Service to get the best report we can from them. Discount for Guilty Plea If you decide to plead guilty, the earlier you do it the better. The reason for this is that the discount you will get on your sentence varies according to how early in the proceedings you plead guilty. Usually the maximum discount for a guilty plea at the earliest opportunity is one third. If you plead guilty on the day of trial, the suggested discount is only 10%. If you plead 'not guilty' your case will be adjourned for a trial. A trial can be listed very quickly i.e. a matter of weeks, or it may be substantially delayed, i.e. several months, depending on the type of case. It is important that you keep in regular contact with us as the Court will not contact you directly but notify us (sometimes at very short notice) about your hearings.

6 Basis of Plea You may be advised to put forward your basis of plea which sets out your version of events. The prosecution may be prepared to accept this, but equally they may not. In any event, it is ultimately a matter for the Judge. If he/she is unwilling to accept the basis of plea, then it may be necessary to hold what is called a Newton hearing at which evidence is called and the Judge then decides who he believes. It s important to bear in mind that if you lose the Newton hearing, it is likely that you will not get the same discount in your sentence that you would have done in the case of a straight guilty plea. For this reason Newton hearings are often not considered to be advisable. Plea Bargaining You may decide after advice that you offer to plead guilty to a less serious offence than that with which you are charged. This is known as plea bargaining. This offer may or may not be accepted by the prosecution. If it is not, then the case will proceed to a trial. Note also that even if the prosecution accept such an offer, if the Judge disapproves, he can ask the prosecution to reconsider their position, although ultimately it is a matter for them and not for the Judge. Goodyear Indications Before a trial starts the Judge can be asked on your behalf to say what the maximum sentence would be if you pleaded guilty, this is commonly referred to as a Goodyear Indication. The Court will not consider doing this unless there is an agreed written basis of plea. The Judge is entitled to refuse to give such an indication. Whether he will or not may depend on a lot of different factors, including whether there are other Defendants in the case who are continuing to fight the case.

7 Bail If you are granted conditional or unconditional bail by the Court or Police Station you must attend the Court or Police Station at the date and time stated on your bail sheet. If you are unable to attend for whatever reason you must contact us immediately. If you fail to attend as required or break your bail conditions you could commit an offence, which means you could be arrested, held in custody and charged with the offence of failing to answer to bail or breaching your bail conditions and produced before the court which will have to review your bail position and decide if you should be granted bail. If you feel any of the bail conditions are wrong or need changing, please contact us as soon as possible. Confiscation If you are found guilty of an offence involving financial benefit to you, the court is likely to order an enquiry into your means with a view to confiscating all your assets up to the value of your benefit from the offence. If you don t pay, you can be ordered to serve a period of imprisonment in default. Confiscation proceedings will usually be considered in cases relating to drugs, money laundering and fraud. Appeals If an appeal is appropriate we will advise you. Appeals from the Magistrates' Court are normally to the Crown Court. Appeals from the Crown Court are normally heard at the Court of Appeal. Your advocate will be able to advise you if they think you can successfully appeal against your conviction, or your sentence, or both. They will prepare the documents which will be placed before a senior Judge who will consider whether or not to give you permission to appeal. So far as appealing against conviction is concerned, you cannot appeal simply on the ground that you disagree with the verdict.

8 You will only be permitted to appeal if: the Judge made rulings in relation to legal matters that were wrong; and/or the Judge made errors in his summing up; and/or evidence was wrongly admitted or wrongly excluded; and/or serious procedural errors occurred during the trial; and/or new evidence has emerged which makes your conviction unsafe. So far as appealing against sentence goes this will only generally be permitted if your sentence was manifestly excessive or it was unlawful, i.e. a sentence that was not permitted by law. Manifestly excessive means that that the sentence you got was outside the permitted range, either having regard to the facts of the offence and/or your personal circumstances. Occasionally, the prosecution can ask for permission to appeal if they think the Judge s sentence and/or confiscation order was too low. If you are given permission to appeal you will have another Court hearing in front of a more senior judge or judges at the Court of Appeal which usually sits in London. There will often be quite some delay before that happens. If your conviction is overturned, that may not necessarily be the end of the matter, in that the Court of Appeal does have power to order a retrial. If that doesn t happen and your conviction is simply quashed, you may be entitled to some compensation for the time you have spent in prison. Further appeals If new evidence comes up after your appeal against conviction has been dismissed, it may be

9 Funding of your matter at the Police station Our advice and attendance at the Police Station is completely free to you and is not means tested. Funding at the Magistrates court if you are charged with an offence Representation at the Magistrates' Court is subject to a financial eligibility test. In the event that you are charged with an offence we will need to assess your income further to determine if you are entitled to free legal representation in the Magistrates' Court. It is important that we do this as soon as possible in order that we can act for you from the first court hearing; therefore you will need to provide us with the following: National Insurance number (If you receive Income Support, Income Based Job Seekers Allowance or Guaranteed State Pension Credit); Benefits information (if you receive one of the above but do not know your National Insurance Number); and Last wage slip (if you are employed). If your income is over the limit prescribed by the Government, you may have to pay for your defence in court. We will advise you accordingly if this is the case. Crown Court Funding If you are in receipt of benefits or under 18 you will not be required to provide a contribution towards your defence costs. If you are employed or self employed you will need to provide evidence of your income to enable the calculation of your contribution to your defence costs. If you do not provide evidence of your income when asked for it, the Legal Services Commission can apply a monthly contribution of 900. The Legal services Commission will write to you directly to inform you of the amount you must pay per month.

10 You also have the option of making one lump sum payment to cover your income contribution, which is equivalent to five monthly payments or is the maximum we can ask you to pay from your income for the class of offence you have been charged with. How is your contribution calculated? Your contribution is based on your household income, essential expenditure and your family circumstances. Can the contribution amount change? If you still need to provide evidence of your income, the amount you must pay is only an estimate and could change once your evidence has been provided to the Legal Services Commission. What if you don t provide evidence of your income? If you do not provide evidence of your income when asked for it, the Legal Services Commission can increase your monthly contribution to 900, or 100% of your monthly disposable income, whichever is higher. What happens if you don t pay? If your monthly payment is late or if you do not pay, the Legal Services Commission can charge you interest and/or take enforcement action against you. If it is charged, the rate of interest on late or unpaid contributions is 6%. If enforcement action is taken, the Commission could, for example, apply to a court to take part of your weekly or monthly earnings, or ask a judge for an order to seize any motor vehicle you may own. Any enforcement costs incurred can be added to your total costs.

11 What if you disagree with the calculation of your means or you think you would suffer financial hardship? If you believe that the Legal Services Commissions have wrongly calculated your income contribution, you can ask us them look at it again. If you believe that you would suffer financial hardship as a result of paying your contribution, you can ask for a review of your living expenses. This is known as a Hardship Review. What if you are found not guilty? If you are found not guilty in the Crown Court, any contributions you have made will be refunded to you with interest. If the Legal Services Commission has taken enforcement action against you, any costs of this can be deducted from the refund. Even if you are acquitted, there are circumstances in which you may be required to make a contribution towards your costs. You will be notified if this is the case. What if you plead or are found guilty? If you plead or are found guilty on some or all counts in the Crown Court and your monthly contributions have not covered your defence costs, you may have to make a further contribution but only if you have 30,000 or more of assets, such as savings, equity in property or shares. If you do not provide evidence of your assets when asked, the Legal Services Commission can remove the 30,000 capital allowance and may require you to pay your defence cost in full. What if your circumstances change? If your circumstances change, you must tell the magistrates' court where you made the application. You must also tell them if you change your address. How do you pay? The Legal Services Commission s collection and enforcement agent, Rossendales Ltd, will contact you to confirm your preferred method of payment. Alternatively you can contact them on

12 Case costs The amount of income contribution is determined by the class of offence and if you are charged with more than one offence falling in more than one class the relevant class will be that for which the specified amount is the highest. The maximum income contribution is set at 90% of the range of defence costs for each class of offence. Refund of contributions You can only seek a refund of any income contributions you have made toward the cost of your case once the case has concluded. Your contributions are calculated as part of the means assessment and are based on the information you declared in your application. Contributions under an Income Contribution Order are for a maximum of 6 months, or less if the case finishes sooner. At the end of the case if you are: found not guilty, income contributions will be refunded in full with interest; convicted and have paid more than the actual costs of the case (calculated at the end of the case) any overpayments will be refunded with interest; or convicted and have paid less than the actual costs you may have to pay some or all of the balance from capital if you have 30,000 or more of capital assets Please note because of the timescales for billing and LSC processing, it can take around five months from the case concluding for the costs to be known.

13 Capital Contribution Order If you are convicted in the Crown Court the Legal Services Commission must establish whether a Capital Contribution Order should be issued. This may also be required if the trial Judge considers there are exceptional reasons why acquitted individuals should be liable to make payment. This means if you were in receipt of a passported benefit regardless of whether you were asked to pay an income contribution or not you will have your capital and equity assessed. This could result in you being asked to pay towards your defence costs. The amount payable under a Capital Contribution Order is based on the final defence cost, less any payments already made. It is issued if you have more than 30,000 in capital. This typically includes equity in properties and all types of savings and investments, but could include other assets. It should also be noted that the 30,000 capital allowance can be removed if you do not comply with requests for evidence or further information. Capital assessments are based on the: amount or value of the asset at the time of the application; and outcome of checks carried out to protect against fraud. As with income assessments your partner s share of the equity is included in these calculations unless there is contrary interest. It is your responsibility to make the payment and you must be aware of the potential liability. It normally takes around six months from the end of the case for the order to be issued. Payment needs to be made within 28 days of the order being made. If payment is not made interest will be charged at 6% and enforcement action may follow. Please note the costs of any action will be added to the amount owed.

14 Enforcement options include but are not limited to: charging order secured against any property owned; 8% interest on charging orders; Visit to your home to seize goods to value of order; third party debt order against any money deposited in an account; and attachment of earnings order. Money recovered will be returned to the legal aid fund. Private funding Chambers Solicitors 24 hour Private Client department, provides first class legal advice and representation to individuals and their families across the full spectrum of criminal matters. At the outset we will provide you with an estimate of our likely costs, and will usually ask for some money on account. And we can provide you with regular and accurate costs summary. Known nationally as a leading UK law firm we deliver highly specialised and nationally recognised private defence. The department will ensure that a specialist member of the legal team is dedicated to your case and provide outstanding client service. Arrested or in Court? Free 24 hr Police Station Attendance Immediate response 24 hrs a day / 7 days a week Call: or 24 hrs:

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