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Criminal Defence Blog

Archive for July, 2016

Remand Solicitors: Specialist Solicitors For Your Loved Ones

remand solicitors


Remand Solicitors: Specialist Solicitors When Your Loved One Is on Remand


Do you need remand solicitors to help with a legal case your loved one is facing?  Whether your loved one has an ongoing case, or wants to Appeal, we can help.


Just because they’re entitled to Legal Aid doesn’t mean they don’t deserve better.


Forrest Williams is a specialist private criminal defence firm, where every caseworker is dedicated to going above and beyond to help their clients, and not stick to guidelines or timeframes that the government sets out for Legal Aid firms.


In a recent case, James’ family were overwhelmed with his several criminal offences – he had three upcoming court cases and a Legal Aid firm representing him.


James and his family wanted him home, and needed to make sure that these cases were as prepared as could be in order to keep his time in custody as low as possible. James’ dad called me, concerned that James’ current solicitor was not interested in helping and that the cases were sat with no work being done.


James’ family were told “we won’t speak to you about this case because James is the client, not you”, but James, stuck in custody with nobody from the firm visiting him or keeping him updated, was just as clueless as to what help he was getting. Nobody had been to visit him or keep him updated.


Until he instructed Forrest Williams.


Within twenty four hours of being instructed to take over James’ case, I had arranged a prison visit to speak to James and get full instructions, and explain to him exactly how we were going to help and what preparation would be going on “behind the scenes” while he awaited his hearing date.  We visited him a further three times and constantly updated him via letter. We also made sure his parents were kept in the loop.


Our hand-picked barrister was instructed to represent James at all his hearings so he would have a familiar face when attending court directly from custody.


My constant liaison with the prosecution outside of court, and the barrister’s determination inside the court, meant that we were able to secure the most favourable outcome for James.


Yesterday was James’ final hearing. He was potentially facing up to a further to 5 years in custody. Because of our pro-active and bespoke service as remand solicitors, James will be released in 8 days.


As you can imagine James and his family were overjoyed with the service Forrest Williams were able to provide and won’t hesitate to recommend us to anyone who may need our services. 


If you need the best remand solicitors for one of your loved ones, call our expert team now on 01623 397200.


Hate Crime Prosecutions At All Time High

hate crime


Hate Crime Prosecutions At All Time High


The Crown Prosecution Service have released their eighth Hate Crime Report and the results are clear.  Hate crimes are being prosecuted at a higher level than ever before, with a 4.8% increase from the year before.


In particular, the report shows a 41% increase in hate crimes relating to disabilities, with high conviction rates for those charges with homophobia and transphobic offences.


Racially and religiously aggravated hate crimes remain the biggest form of hate crimes prosecuted, making up 84% of all hate crimes prosecuted. 


The prosecution have a very high success rate in securing convictions when charging hate crimes, with 83% of all hate crimes prosecuted resulting in a conviction.  Around 15,000 hate crimes are prosecuted by the Crown Prosecution Service each year.


The numbers of homophobic and transphobic prosecutions are increasing and this trend is likely to continue as awareness of these issues improves.  Levels of disability hate crime have also increased dramatically, with a 40% increase from 2014/2015 to 2015/2016. 


Prosecutions of hate crimes against older people also continue to increase, although on a smaller scale, while the cases resulting in conviction actually fell.  It is worth noting that a bespoke National Scrutiny Panel on crimes against older people will be established in 2016/2017 to assist the CPS in these cases, and the focus and training in this area could result in an increase of prosecutions and convictions.


Hate crimes are accepted by the National Police Chiefs’ Council (NPCC) and the CPS as being:


“any criminal offence which is perceived by the victim or any other person, to be motivated by a hostility or prejudice based on a person’s race or perceived race; religion or perceived religion; sexual orientation or perceived sexual orientation; disability or perceived disability and any crime motivated by a hostility or prejudice against a person who is transgender or perceived to be transgender.”


Although described as hate crime, the definition shows that the key words are actually hostility and prejudice.  There is no need to prove hatred as the motivating factor behind an offence.


If you or a loved one are being investigated for a hate crime, it is important that you seek expert legal advice without delay.  Call our dedicated team now on 01623 397200.


Appeal from Crown Court: A Q&A From Forrest Williams

appeal from crown court


Appeal from Crown Court: Your Questions Answered


I want to appeal from crown court – what should I do?


Q: Do I have the right to appeal from crown court?


A: Yes, you can appeal against sentence and conviction (if you pleaded not guilty) and, if you pleaded guilty, you can appeal against sentence and possibly against conviction.  This is not an automatic right, however.


Q: Do I need to have grounds to appeal?


A: Yes. You can normally only appeal if something went ‘wrong’ at the trial (i.e. if an important court procedure wasn’t followed properly) or if there is new evidence (i.e. a witness who wasn’t at the original trial – for appeals against conviction only).  You cannot simply appeal from crown court because you consider that the decision made was wrong.


Q: It sounds complicated. Should I get legal advice first?


A: Yes, it is complicated! We would strongly urge you to get expert advice before you make a decision about whether or not to appeal from crown court.


Q: How do I appeal from crown court?


A: You need to apply to the Criminal Appeal Office to get permission to appeal. They will put your application before a judge. There is a form to complete.  This is not a simple process and you will certainly require a legal team to do this work for you.  Forrest Williams are specialists in this area and we are happy to help.  Give us a call on 01623 397200.


Q: Is there a deadline for an appeal?


A: Yes. For an appeal against conviction, you must appeal within 28 days of the date of your conviction – even if you were sentenced at a later date. If you wish to appeal against sentence only, the 28 day period starts from the date you were sentenced.  Out of time applications are considered in some circumstances.


Q: What happens next if I get permission to appeal?


A: If permission is granted, your appeal will be heard by the Court of Appeal. You will be notified of the hearing date and location a few weeks before the appeal.


Q: What if I am refused permission to appeal?


A: You will receive a letter to say you have not been granted permission to appeal.


Q: What if I am refused permission, but I still want an appeal to take place?


A: You have the right to renew your application and ask a ‘full court’ of 2 or 3 judges to give you permission. The letter will explain how to do this.


Q: What if the ‘full court’ refuses permission to appeal?


A: You can contact the Criminal Cases Review Commission.


Q: What happens if I am granted an appeal, and it is successful?


A: If you win your appeal, your conviction and sentence will no longer stand. You may receive compensation.


Q: What if I lose my appeal?


A: Your original conviction will stay the same. You won’t be able to appeal again unless the Criminal Cases Review Commission refers your case back to the Court of Appeal.


Q: What if I start the appeal process – then decide I want to stop it?


A: You can stop your appeal at any time. There is a form for this.


If you are unhappy with a crown court decision, and are considering lodging an appeal, please speak with us first.  We are happy to offer free initial advice on 01623 397200.


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