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It is important to obtain specialist legal advice when you are under investigation for a criminal offence. We are experienced and effective criminal defence lawyers who will defend your legal rights. An investigation and subsequent court proceedings can be stressful and intimidating. We will provide advice and support in order to get you the best possible outcome. As well as our in-house expertise we also work closely with a range of experts and barristers to ensure that we can provide you with the best possible defence.
We provide 24 hour police station advice and assistance. If you are under arrest or attend for interview voluntarily ask for us to attend. Legal advice is necessary whether or not you have done anything wrong. Many cases are won in the police station and the advice provided is tailored to the outcome that you wish to achieve. If the matter proceeds to court the result can be dependent on the decisions you make at the police station. How the police deal with matters can depend on your age and circumstances. Contact us so that we can advise you and defend your legal rights.
We provide legal representation to those appearing in the criminal courts. All matters will start at the Magistrates Court for adults and usually the Youth Court for under 18s. At the first appearance you are often required to enter a plea of guilty or not guilty. Some offences are sent to the Crown Court for trial or sentence. Cases can be finalised at the first hearing. Decisions made at the first hearing can have a serious impact on your case. Contact us to speak to a solicitor.
We have experience of defending those accused of all levels of violence from common assault to murder. Some allegations can be dealt with at the police station and others will progress to the courts. It is important to obtain advice at the earliest stage of an investigation as decisions made at the police station can impact on the final outcome. If you are charged with an offence of violence and have to appear at court we can represent you and prepare your case. As well as our in-house expertise we also work closely with experts and barristers who we can instruct if necessary.
In some circumstances there may be a defence to an allegation of violence. This means that if the defence is accepted no criminal offence has been committed. For instance if it is accepted that you acted in self defence then there is no crime. The law relating to defences is not straightforward and it is essential to obtain legal advice to ensure you present any relevant defences effectively.
In some cases people are investigated and prosecuted for violence committed by another person because it is alleged that they acted jointly with that person. For instance two people are together and one of them stabs
The Misuse of Drugs Act 1971 deals with most drug offences. Drugs are classified as Class A, B, or C. Class A drugs include heroin, crack, cocaine, LSD and magic mushrooms. Class B drugs include cannabis, mephedrone (M-Cat and Meow) and amphetamines. Class C drugs include anabolic steroids, valium (diazepam and khat). We have experience representing those investigated for offences ranging from possession, possession with intent to supply, production and importation.
Some matters can be finalised at the police station. If you are arrested for possession of a small amount of drugs and taken to the police station it may be that the best outcome is for you to make an admission and receive an out of court diversion. What is available is dependent on whether or not you are a youth. We can represent you at the police station free of charge and advise you of your options.
In more serious cases decisions made at the police station may have consequences for the final outcome of your case. The police often conduct targeted operations using surveillance and undercover police officers. They often do not reveal the full extent of their evidence at the police station. The police may conduct searches and request access to mobile phones and computer passwords. It is essential that you obtain expert advice as these cases are not straightforward.
If you are charged with a drug offence you will appear at the Magistrates Court if you are over 18. Prior to your first appearance the prosecution should send to us details of the case against you and this should include a case summary and often witness statements. We can advise you on the strength of the evidence against you and on which level of court is likely to hear your case. If you dispute the case and enter a not guilty plea then you may have an option of whether a trial should be held in the Magistrates Court or the Crown Court - we can help you with this decision. More serious cases, for instance allegations of class A drug supply, will often be tried in the Crown Court in front of a jury. We work closely with experts and barristers that we can instruct if necessary to ensure that you have the best possible defence.
Youths will usually appear at the Youth Court unless they are charged with an adult. Most matters will stay in the Youth Court for all of the proceedings. Even with more serious drug offences youths can still be diverted from the courts. It is essential that advice is obtained to ensure that youths receive consideration for out of court disposals.
Proceeds of Crime
Those charged with drugs offences may also find the prosecution seek to seize money and assets and may instigate confiscation proceedings. This is not a straightforward area of law and it is imperative that those facing these proceedings obtain legal advice.
SEXUAL OFFENCE ACCUSATIONS
We have lots of experience with representing people accused of sexual offences. Not only are these allegations serious but they also can have a wider impact than just the criminal proceedings. We know that these investigations can be particularly stressful and harrowing. We will provide straightforward and effective advice on how to obtain the best possible outcome. We can provide legal advice and representation for all sexual offence allegations. Please call or email us to arrange to speak to a solicitor free of charge.
The police have a choice of whether to arrest or to invite someone in to have an interview by appointment. Just because you are not under arrest this does not mean that the police are dealing with the matter any less seriously. Everyone interviewed by the police is entitled to free legal advice. It is important to have legal advice whether or not you think you have done something wrong. The police work closely with other agencies such as social services and may even inform your employers if they think there is a potential risk to others. Please contact us to discuss your case and we can attend the police station with you free of charge.
HISTORICAL SEXUAL ALLEGATIONS
It may be that you are accused of a sexual offence that is alleged to have occurred many years ago. These allegations can be very difficult to defend yourself against. Your ability to provide evidence in your defence may be hindered by the passing of time. We have experience of defending those accused of these offences and as well as our in-house expertise we work closely with experts and barristers that we can instruct if necessary.
An allegation of rape usually involves one person's word against another. Often the issue in the case is predominantly whether or not the person making the accusation consented to sex. The law around consent is not straightforward. A rape trial has particularly strict rules regarding questioning of the alleged victim and it is imperative that your defence team has the requisite experience in dealing with these cases. If you are an adult your case will be heard in the Crown Court with a jury but if you are a youth you may have a trial just in front of a judge in the Youth Court. We have experience of representing both adults and youths in these cases and work closely with experts and barristers that we can instruct if necessary. Please call or email us to speak to a specialist solicitor.
We have represented people who are accused of grooming and arranging to meet people they have met on the internet. Often it is alleged that the accused has sought to make contact with someone who is underage. These allegations can be particularly harrowing. The impact of these allegations goes far beyond the criminal proceedings and it is imperative that you receive legal advice to ensure that matters are not made worse.
Being accused of possessing, making or distributing indecent images is very stressful. The law is not straightforward. The police may wish you to provide passwords and to inform them of everyone that has had access to your computer equipment. The decisions you make at the police station can have far reaching consequences. The police may involve social services and your employers. Even if the matter is dealt with by way of an out of court disposal it can still mean that you are placed on the Sex Offences Register. We have experience of representing people at the police station and the courts for these offences. We are able to give you straightforward advice and aim to ensure you achieve the best possible outcome.
THEFT ACT OFFENCES
There are many offences under the Theft Act 1968. These offences include theft; handling stolen goods; robbery; making off without payment, burglary and blackmail. We are experienced in representing people accused of all levels of Theft Act offences. These offences are often not as straightforward as they appear and there can be legal arguments raised to prevent a conviction. In some less serious cases, where the police have sufficient evidence, it may be the best outcome to see if there is an out of court option. Some allegations are more serious due to the circumstances in which they were committed for instance theft from employer or theft whilst in a position of trust. In order to be guilty of theft usually it has to be proved that you were dishonest. Just because someone has taken an item or items does not mean that they are guilty of theft as there is a mental element to this offence too. Please call or email us to speak to a solicitor about the allegation. If you or a family member is under arrest we can attend the police station free of charge to provide advice. If the police have asked that you make an appointment for an interview we can attend with you.
An allegation of burglary involves entering premises or a part of the premises without permission and usually intending or actually stealing something. It can also involve an intention to cause GBH or criminal damage or actually causing GBH or criminal damage. It is deemed more serious if this takes place in domestic premises. These are serious convictions that can result in lengthy prison sentences. In certain circumstances a third conviction for domestic burglary (third strike) makes the offender liable for a mandatory minimum of 3 years in prison. If it believes it is unjust to do so the court can chose not to impose this sentence but it would be unusual for this to happen. An aggravated burglary involves an allegation of having a weapon at the time of committing the burglary.
This offence is one that is deemed so serious that cases should only be tried or sentenced in the Crown Court. In the case of a youth it is often heard in the Youth Court. The definition of a robbery is that someone steals and immediately before or at the time of doing so, and in order to do so, uses force or puts the victim in fear of force being used. The carrying or use of a weapon is an aggravating feature of this offence that means that on conviction the sentence will be greater. If a firearm or other weapon is carried the prosecution will generally add extra specific charges relating to this in addition to the robbery charge. With regard to firearms the law is very strict about what fits within the definition and in some cases it is possible to challenge the evidence - we are able to instruct experts on this point if necessary.
The Fraud Act 2006 lists 3 ways that it is possible to commit fraud: by false representation; by failing to disclose information and by abuse of position. Fraud is an offence whereby the prosecution have to prove that there was a guilty mind in order for there to be a crime committed. The accused has to have been dishonest and had the intention to make a gain for him or herself or a loss for another. There doesn't have to have been an actual gain or loss. The test for dishonesty is the same as for Theft Act offences. The test is "first of all decide whether according to the ordinary standards of reasonable and honest people what was done was dishonest... If it was dishonest... consider whether the defendant himself must have realised that what he was doing was by those standards dishonest." (R v Ghosh 1982). These cases are often far from straightforward and it is imperative that specialist legal advice is sort as early as possible. For more serious allegations, as well as our in-house expertise, we are able to instruct forensic accountants and other experts. We have specialist counsel that we instruct with significant experience of such cases to ensure that the best possible outcome is obtained.
Tagging, graffiti and street art can all be considered criminal damage. Some building owners and councils give permission for use of specific walls or buildings and this should amount to a lawful excuse and should not attract criminal proceedings unless the work is considered to be racist, obscene or contravenes some other law. Increasingly the prosecuting authorities, such as the British Transport Police, are investigating and charging these offences as conspiracies. A conspiracy offence can only be heard in the Crown Court. Unfortunately a conviction for conspiracy to cause criminal damage can attract a substantial prison sentence. The essential ingredient of the crime of conspiracy is an agreement by two or more people to carry out a criminal act. For example in the case of tagging there have been cases whereby it was shown that two or more people used text or social media messages to arrange to tag a train. It is essential to obtain legal advice at the earliest opportunity if you are investigated for this type of offence - decisions made at the police station can have an impact on the outcome of any investigation. If you are charged with an offence the way that your case is prepared can make a difference to whether or not you are found guilty. If you plead guilty or are found guilty it is imperative that you have mitigation prepared to obtain the best possible outcome.
S.1 of the Criminal Damage Act 1971 states that "a person who without lawful excuse destroys or damages property belonging to another intending to destroy or damage any such property or being reckless as to whether any such property would be destroyed or damaged shall be guilty of an offence". Surprisingly the law relating to criminal damage is not as straightforward as it appears. For instance, the definition of damage is much wider than perhaps common sense would suggest. In the case of Hardman v Chief Constable of Avon and Somerset  it was held that damage included water-soluble pavement paintings. This means that even if the "damage" is not permanent it can fit the definition of damage. A person can also be liable for damaging his own property if it is proved that it is jointly owned with another. One element of this offence that has caused lots of legal argument is the concept of recklessly damaging property. The current state of the law is that in order to recklessly commit criminal damage the person must have an awareness of the risk of damage occurring by his actions. A charge of criminal damage of a value below £5,000 will be heard in the Magistrates Court but damages above £5,000 may be heard in the Crown Court. For youths, unless charges are very serious the case will be heard in the Youth Court. We have experience of representing those accused of all levels of criminal damage. Contact us now to speak to a solicitor about your case.
ARSON WITH INTENT TO ENDANGER LIFE
ARSON RECKLESS AS TO ENDANGERING LIFE
Arson is criminal damage caused by fire. It is usually charged as the more serious offence of intent or recklessness if the fire causes damage to a building with people in it. A conviction for even simple arson can have a substantial impact upon the accused, for instance many colleges are unhappy to take students with convictions for arson. The more serious offence can only be heard in a Crown Court for over 18s. Youths may be tried in the Youth Court, without a jury, even for the more serious offences. The prosecution will usually have expert evidence to explain how they believe the fire was started and how it progressed. As well as our in-house expertise we are able to instruct experts to assess the prosecution evidence and in some cases to challenge it. Please contact us to arrange to attend for police interview or to discuss your case.
It is against the law to have "an article with blade or point in a public place" unless there is "good reason or lawful authority". In a small number of cases possession of a knife will be lawful so it is important to obtain legal advice. The penalties for carrying a knife are serious. For an adult a 2nd conviction may result in a mandatory 6 month prison sentence and even a youth may receive a mandatory custodial sentence. A single conviction for threats with a knife also attracts a mandatory prison sentence. It is imperative that legal advice is obtained for these offences. Contact us now to speak to a solicitor.
The law relating to firearms is far from straightforward. The legal definition of a firearm is "a lethal barrelled weapon of any description from which any shot, bullet or other missile can be discharged" (section 57 (1) Firearms Act 1968. This definition is wide enough to include parts of weapons and some accessories. It is also illegal to have "prohibited weapon" which includes some air rifles and even some paintball guns. Imitation weapons can be prohibited too. Not surprisingly the penalties that are imposed for gun offences are substantial terms of imprisonment. Often firearms offences require the instruction of experts in order to assess the prosecution evidence and if necessary to challenge it. It is therefore really important to have legal advice. There are many firearms offences ranging from simple possession to endangering life and to importation. Call us to discuss your case.
S.1 of the Prevention of Crime Act 1953 states that "any person who without lawful authority or reasonable excuse, the proof whereof shall lie on him, has with him in any public place any offensive weapon shall be guilty of an offence". There are 3 types of offensive weapon, (1) an article made for causing injury to a person; (2) an article adapted for use for causing injury; (3) and an article which the person carrying intends to use for injuring a person. There are some defences available but unusually the burden of proof lies with the defendant. It is imperative that legal advice is obtained as early as possible as decisions made at the police station can affect the outcome of these cases. Please call us so that we can advise you and attend the police station and/or court to represent you.
PUBLIC ORDER ACT 1986
The Public Order Act contains offences ranging from causing harassment alarm and distress to violent disorder and riot. It also contains provisions relating to processions and open-air assemblies. We have experience of representing those facing these charges including the representation of protesters. Please call us to speak to a solicitor free of charge.
It is important to obtain legal advice if you are investigated by the RSPCA. If you are interviewed under caution whether it is at your business, home address or at a police station you are entitled to legal advice. Decisions made at this stage can affect the outcome of the investigation and any subsequent proceedings. The RSPCA do not have the same rights as police officers. It is best to obtain advice at the earliest stage possible. If your case proceeds and you are facing legal proceedings in the court as well as out in-house expertise we are also able to instruct experts and specialist barristers to ensure that you obtain the best possible outcome. Legal Aid may be available. Contact us to speak to a solicitor.
Local Authority Prosecutions
If you are being investigated by the local authority for a criminal or regulatory offence it is imperative that you receive expert advice at the earliest opportunity. We have a solicitor who has previously worked as a prosecutor for a local authority and is able to bring knowledge of how these cases are investigated, prosecuted and highlight their potential weaknesses. As well as our in-house expertise if necessary we can instruct experts and/or specialist counsel to obtain the best possible outcome. Please call us to speak to a solicitor.
The Proceeds of Crime Act 2002 creates three offences relating to money laundering. It is illegal to 1) conceal, disguise, convert, transfer or remove from the jurisdiction criminal property 2) facilitate the acquisition, retention, use or control of criminal property, and 3) acquire, use or possess criminal property. The definition of criminal property has a wide interpretation. If you are being investigated regarding a money laundering offence it is imperative that you obtain legal advice at the earliest opportunity. As well as our in-house expertise we work closely with experts and counsel who we can instruct if necessary in order to obtain the best possible outcome. Call us now to speak to a solicitor.
The CPS are advised to consider asset recovery in cases where they believe that someone has benefited from crime. This means that for many crimes particularly drug offences the Crown will instigate proceedings to deprive the accused of any criminally gained financial benefit. This is a developing area of law and it is important to obtain specialist legal advice. We have experience of representing those facing these proceedings.
Extradition proceedings are heard at Westminster Magistrates Court in London. The UK has agreements whereby people can be detained and sent to another country for trial or to serve a sentence post-conviction. There are a number of reasons that the court can refuse the request to extradite a person and this includes incompatibility with the Human Rights Act. It is essential that those facing these proceedings obtain advice at the earliest opportunity. As well as our in-house expertise we are also able to instruct experts and specialist barristers. Our aim is to ensure the best possible outcome. Contact us now to speak to a solicitor.
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Director: Sarah Smith. Registered in England and Wales | Company Number: 10334130 Registered Office: 95, Ditchling Road, Brighton, BN1 4ST