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Archive for the ‘Criminal Offences’ Category

Modern Slavery Act: One Year On

Modern Slavery Act

MODERN SLAVERY ACT: ONE YEAR ON

 

A Gov.UK report examines the effectiveness of the Modern Slavery Act one year after it’s creation.

 

 

 

The report aims to answer four main questions:

 

  1. Is there sufficient awareness of the criminal justice measures contained within the Act?
  2. How well are the measures in the Act being implemented?
  3. Are there gaps in the provisions of the Act?
  4. What recommendations are there to fill any gaps found?

 

As practitioners, it is clear that while the number of prosecutions have increased in the last year (most still under the old offences) the Modern Slavery Act continues to present challenges to the police and Crown Prosecution Service.  There remains a lack of consistency in how these cases are dealt with, and we are pleased to see this reflected in the report.

 

Indeed, the report recognises that this particularly challenging area of the law requires frontline staff to be equipped with tools, training and processes that are currently lacking.

 

The report makes several specific recommendations, including:

 

  • Each police force should appoint or identify single points of contact on modern slavery and exploitation – one at strategic command level and one at tactical investigative level
  • Training for police officers, to include basic training for every police officer on modern slavery and trafficking to be incorporated into the national policing curriculum
  • Training for prosecutors, lawyers and the judiciary.  The Crown Prosecution Service website in particular was found to be out of date.
  • Modern Slavery Act cases to be referred to a Complex Case Unit within the CPS, with each CPS region’s Complex Case Unit comprising a senior charging lawyer trained to deal with exploitation and slavery cases
  • Consideration to be given to creating a Visa order preventing an offender from applying and/or sponsoring another person’s entry into the UK
  • Consideration to be given to enhancing police powers of detainment for own protection

 

It is clear that the Modern Slavery Act is being implemented in its current, imperfect form, and has resulted in 884 modern slavery crimes being recorded across England and Wales between April 2015 and March 2016. 

 

As well as the Modern Slavery Act, convictions have been secured for:

 

  • Slavery, servitude and forced labour
  • Human trafficking for sexual exploitation
  • Human trafficking for non-sexual exploitation

 

Nine Slavery and Trafficking Risk Orders (STROs) have been applied for, and sixteen Slavery and Trafficking Prevention Orders (STPOs) have been made under s14 Modern Slavery Act.

 

These numbers are significantly lower than the Government’s estimates of the number of slavery victims in the UK, and defence firms should see this as a signal that the Modern Slavery Act will be used as a continued focus on these offences and securing an increased number of prosecutions. 

 

If you, or someone you know, is being investigated or prosecuted for a Modern Slavery Act related offence, our expert team can help. Call us now on 0800 1933 999.

 

Causing Serious Injury by Dangerous Driving

causing serious injury by dangerous driving

Causing Serious Injury by Dangerous Driving.

 

 

Section 143 of the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act 2012 created an offence of causing serious injury by dangerous driving by amending the RTA 1988 and inserting a new section 1A. This amendment came into force on 3 December 2012.

 

The offence is committed when the manner of the defendant’s driving is dangerous and results in another person suffering a serious physical injury.  

 

Euan was under investigation for this offence following a car collision with a friend he’d had an argument with.  Euan was arrested the night of the incident and released on bail pending the police’s investigations.  Euan knew that the charge was serious and that he needed legal representation, so he called Forrest Williams.

 

Once Euan was formally charged with causing serious injury by dangerous driving, we were able to review the prosecution paperwork.  Whilst Euan did admit he was driving the vehicle which ultimately led to a head on collision, his version of events differed dramatically.  We believed that although he was guilty, the version of events Euan presented would make a dramatic difference to the level of sentence that would be imposed.

 

Causing serious injury by dangerous driving can be heard in either the Magistrates court or the Crown Court. In the Magistrates, Euan would be looking at a fine and a custodial sentence of up to 6 months. In the Crown, he would be looking at up to 5 years’ imprisonment. Both courts impose a disqualification from driving for a minimum of 2 years.

 

As you can see from the above, the sentence does vary greatly and if Euan was to accept the case that the prosecution put forward he would most certainly be looking at 5 years’ imprisonment.

 

We worked tirelessly with Euan to present a basis of plea (Euan’s version of events) to the court. The Magistrates sent Euan’s case up to the Crown Court due to the severity of the incident – it involved a head on collision with another car which led to the other members of the vehicle being seriously injured: the passenger had concussion, and the driver of the other vehicle had suffered a broken hip as a result of the incident.

 

Euan accepted full responsibility and showed genuine remorse for his actions: he expected to be punished, but wanted the victims and the court to see how this had affected him and how a lengthy custodial sentence would not only affect him but his young family of a fiancée and small child.

 

Fortunately, the prosecution accepted the basis of plea and Euan’s hearing was adjourned for sentencing. We were fully expecting Euan to go to prison, but were fighting for this sentence to be as low as possible to minimise his separation from his young child.

 

Euan and his fiancée arrived at the court for sentencing, with the same experienced barrister who had represented him at his previous two hearings.  Whilst he was understandably nervous, he expressed how much easier it was with the support and consistency of his barrister, and caseworker Kirsty Day fighting his corner.

 

When we arrived at court, imagine our surprise when the judge overrode the previous decision to accept the basis of plea! The basis was withdrawn in its entirety and we were “back to square one”.

 

Euan, his fiancée, and us were all heartbroken.  Thankfully Forrest Williams are prepared for everything and the barrister was already ready to present full mitigation to advocate for the most lenient sentence.

 

Euan’s barrister presented the strongest mitigation and the judge advised:

 

“You pleaded guilty at the first opportunity. You drove your car dangerously causing serious injury. This plea was entered on a basis which you no longer rely on. I now sentence you on the full facts of this case. You are entitled to full credit for your plea. I have seen a number of references referring to your character, employment, relationships and your family. You had made significant progress in obtaining good work and had a future. This offence is plainly so serious that only immediate custody is appropriate. But for the mitigation and your plea of guilty the offence itself I would be starting in the region of 4 years. However, the mitigation put forward enables me to reduce my starting point before credit to 3 years for which you receive a full credit.”

 

Euan was sentenced to 2 years’ imprisonment. His barrister met with Euan after the hearing where he advised he was thrilled with the outcome given the circumstances. 

 

If you are facing a charge of causing serious injury by dangerous driving, call Forrest Williams now on 0800 1933 999.

 

 

 

Conditional Caution Domestic Violence

Conditional Caution Domestic Violence

 

Conditional Caution Domestic Violence

 

Are you being investigated for or charged with a domestic violence offence?

 

If so, it is vital that you get expert legal advice as soon as possible.

 

Our dedicated team can help.  Call us now on 0800 1933 999.

 

Domestic violence cases are treated seriously and have been the topic of much scrutiny recently, with the Crown Prosecution Service issuing strict guidance on how such cases should be handled.

 

Domestic violence cases are specifically flagged by prosecutors to mark their severity and delicate nature, and even if an alleged victim of domestic violence retracts their statement and does not want a prosecution to occur, you may be surprised to discover that the case against you will usually continue regardless.

 

The Government’s current definition of domestic violence is:

 

“Any incident or pattern of incidents of controlling, coercive or threatening behaviour, violence or abuse between those aged 16 or over who are or have been intimate partners or family members, regardless of gender of sexuality.”

 

While most people imagine that domestic violence refers to incidents between spouses, it is much wider than that and extends to family members such as mothers, fathers, sons, daughters, brothers, sisters and grandparents and includes in-laws and step-relations.

 

A domestic violence element to a criminal charge is an aggravating factor, and makes the matter more serious.

 

But, is it possible to obtain a conditional caution domestic violence?

 

This question has recently been considered in the Royal Courts of Justice, where a person investigated for a domestic violence offence was not offered a conditional caution because the decision maker involved in the investigation process believed that conditional cautions can never be offered in domestic violence cases.

 

The review of the case held that this was an incorrect belief and that it is possible to obtain a conditional caution domestic violence cases in some situations.

 

Forrest Williams know this to be the case and have a successful track record of securing conditional caution for domestic violence cases.

 

If you need a legal team on side who understand the intricacies of the law, call us now on 0800 1933 999.

 

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