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Archive for the ‘Sexual Offences’ Category

Best Sexual Assault Solicitors Secure Victory At Trial

best sexual assault solicitors


Best Sexual Assault Solicitors Secure Victory At Trial


Darrell contacted us absolutely bewildered and terrified. He had been wrongly charged with sexual assault.


He just did not know what to do.


From our first conversation with Darrell it became apparent that this was clearly a malicious allegation.


Lucy, the alleged victim was the sister of Charlie, who was, at the time, a tenant of Darrell’s. Charlie, however, had not paid her rent in months, so Darrell was having to go through the process of evicting her from the flat. Because Charlie was young, her mum acted as guarantor, and so Darrell, as per the agreement, was contacting Charlie and Lucy’s Mum to recover the outstanding rent.


Lucy became involved a few days before the eviction was due to take place. She contacted Darrell and appeared to be the more reasonable sister and was arranging for Charlie to hand over the keys to the flat. 


An agreement was put into place and the three of them met up at Charlie’s flat and the key was handed over. The flat was in a state, and items had gone missing.  Darrell decided that he would go forward with obtaining the outstanding rent from their Mum due to the state of the property.


Lucy invited Darrell back to her house for a cup of tea, so that they could discuss things and get everything sorted. Again Lucy was very determined to try and persuade Darrell to not pursue her mother for the outstanding rent.


Lucy started talking about her tattoos, and began to show them to Darrell (without his request).  Darrell was not interested.  Lucy then asked Darrell to touch a scar in the centre of her back to see if it was raised.


Darrell was there for around 45 minutes.


A few days later Darrell was arrested on suspicion of Sexual Assault against Lucy.


He was charged and given a date to attend Derby Magistrates Court.


This is when he contacted us, looking for the best sexual assault solicitors to help him.


We arranged for Darrell to come in and meet his caseworker, Jess Sadler [pictured above], face to face so he could tell us what happened.


There were no time limits.  It was just Darrell’s chance to tell us what really happened, and we were there to listen for as long as he needed.


We started preparing his case immediately. We knew how important this was to him, and how life changing it would be if he was falsely convicted of the offence.


It was a difficult case from the beginning. It was essentially his word against hers, with no evidence to support either version of events.


Darrell was represented by our senior solicitor, Steve Williams.  Steve has over 25 years’ experience in criminal matters and is personally known to Derby Magistrates.  Darrell wanted the best sexual assault solicitors and there was no better person to represent Darrell.


As the best sexual assault solicitors in the area, we are used to thinking outside the box and building every case individually, free from templates, pro-formas or any other restrictions.  In this case, we decided that due to the lack of third-party evidence to support our case, we would use something that nobody could deny to persuade the Magistrates to believe Darrell’s version of events.


We used Darrell.


Darrell had been a landlord for many years, and so many of his tenants wanted to help in whatever way they could to repay the help that Darrell had given to them. We contacted each of them, explained the process and took witness statements from them all.


The point was we wanted to show to the court that Darrell was not the type of person who would commit this offence.


Darrell came in and had numerous meetings with his caseworker, and met with Steve before the trial to prepare him for what was going to happen and help him through cross examination.


The trial day came.


Darrell attended with his witnesses, Steve and his caseworker.


We went into court and the prosecution opened the case and called Lucy to the stand. Lucy gave evidence which completely contradicted the statements she had given to the police.


Steve cross-examined her and highlighted all of these discrepancies in her evidence.


Lucy’s mum was then called to give evidence, as it was alleged that Lucy rang her straight after the alleged incident to tell her about what had happened. This evidence again contradicted everything that was said in both cross-examination of Lucy and her police statements.


At this stage the prosecution case was finished.


It was our turn to put forward Darrell’s defence.


We asked for a short moment to discuss with our client.


We went out and explained that he was in such a strong position right now, and so we advised that it was worthwhile making a submission that there was no case to answer to the court.


If it was successful then the case would be thrown out and that would be the end of the matter.


We explained the pros and cons of making the submission, and Darrell agreed it was worth a go.


Steve went into the court room and made a very persuasive argument as to why there was no case to answer.


The Magistrates went away and considered our application.


After a short five minutes they returned.


No case to answer.


Darrell was free to go.


Darrell and his partner were overwhelmed.  We had saved Darrell from having to stand up in court, and had protected his innocence.


We are now working with Darrell to recover his legal fees from the National Taxing Team. 


If you need the best sexual assault solicitors to defend you, call us now on 01623 397200. 


Sexual Consent Is NOT Simple, Alison Saunders.

sexual offence solicitors


Sexual Consent Is NOT Simple, Alison Saunders


Alison Saunders, DPP, recently wrote an article on the CPS website headed “Sexual Consent Is Simple”.


I would beg to differ.


The article describes how victims of rape have often been blamed for allowing themselves to be raped.  Let me make it clear that I do not agree that any genuine rape victim should be made to justify or explain themselves in any way, shape or form.


However, the article went on to compare how such victim blaming is like asking the victim of a burglary what they did to allow themselves to be burgled.


This argument is nonsensical.


Everyone knows that burglary is wrong.  Illegal.  Simply not allowed.  To take something that belongs to another without express permission is simply not okay – and people recognise that.  As such, consent is rarely an issue in burglary.  It is very rare for someone to say: “I misread the situation and thought it ok to take it”.


Sexual relationships cannot be compared to burglary.


Most sexual relationships, even if the sexual intercourse will be a one-off incident, require a gradual transition from non-sexual to sexual activity.  This is a subtle shift.  There is, usually, no verbal conversation, eMail exchange or written contract.  It is, instead, an often awkward and nerve-wracking act for both parties that is worked out using body language more than verbal language.


To say that consent is simple in this scenario is simply not true.


Alleged victims of sexual assault or rape are given great protection by the law, as they should be.  What this means is that their demeanour both during and after any alleged rape is protected from criticism.


There are, of course, very black and white rape cases where sexual consent is clearly not present.  Those cases should be prosecuted and the offenders should be convicted and punished.


But the majority of rape cases involve a much more grey area when it comes to sexual consent.  These cases often involve the blurred line of what has been agreed to, or what has reasonably been considered to have been agreed to.


Sexual consent can be many things.


It can be the silent, passive, allowing of sexual intercourse that is surely common between long-term partners.


It can be the eager, passionate involvement that is then regretted once the female is sober or when their partner discovers an infidelity.


It can be a tentative “ok” offered by a teenage girl in response to her first boyfriend asking if she’s sure.


It can be a look, a touch, a smile, a moan.


It is almost never a deliberate, “yes I consent to having sex with you now”.  How much easier our work would be if this was the norm.


Victims of rape must be protected.  We stand by rape victims and their rights.


But sexually active men must be protected as well.


To misread a signal, is not rape.


And we strongly feel that this idea of sexual consent as a simple issue, is to dangerously oversimplify an incredibly complicated issue.


Sexual Assault Solicitors: Client Found Not Guilty

sexual assault solicitors


Sexual Assault Solicitors


Do you need sexual assault solicitors?  Forrest Williams can help.


How much do you trust the person giving you advice? Presumably, you must trust their knowledge but do you trust that they are giving you the best advice for you and not what is best for them?


I recently had the honour of supporting a client through his Sexual Assault charge.  As sexual assault solicitors we are used to helping many good people through allegations like this.  He accepted that the touching occurred but firmly believed that it had been consensual – and that he had believed that she had not objected to the touch.


To put it into context, he had been at a work party, they had all been drinking, in his own words “to excess”, and he, and a colleague, had been sat, snuggled together on a sofa, her back resting into his chest as she laid back into him. His arm was round her waist and rested just up inside her top.


The sexual assault allegation related to him then touching her breast.


Our client was mortified when the allegation was made some time later.  He had never set out to upset anyone, or to cause harm. He had simply misjudged the situation, believing that she was not averse to the contact – there were others present and she could have moved away, or said something, instead she had snuggled closer into him and had not objected to the initial contact.


Is this not how many sexual encounters begin?  Not with a written contract or a verbal agreement, but with subtle body language?


When initially questioned by the police our client (then not represented by Forrest Williams but a Legal Aid Lawyer) was too open and too apologetic.  He was clearly upset by the allegations and anxious to ensure the police knew how sorry he was for what had happened – and his interview could be interpreted as an acceptance of the charge.  His solicitor told him to accept the charge, to plead Guilty to the offence.


As specialist sexual assault solicitors, we understand the devastating consequences that a conviction for a sexual offence can have.  We would never advise a client with a clear defence to plead guilty.


Luckily his family urged him to seek a second opinion and he rang the specialist sexual assault solicitors at Forrest Williams.


We talked to him, we obtained the evidence from the CPS and, above all, we listened to him. It was clear to us that, though he was at pains not to suggest that the complainant was lying, that he had, at the time of the incident, firmly believed that she had consented to the touch and that his belief in that consent was reasonable.


We talked through the options with him and how each would work – together it was decided that not only would he plead Not Guilty but that he would elect to have the case sent to the Crown Court to be heard (a Sexual Assault case can be heard in the Magistrates Court by a judge or in the Crown Court when a Jury would determine his fate). This would mean that his case, instead of being over in a matter of weeks would instead take over a year.


This was a big consideration for him due to the ongoing stress and impact on his family, on his job, on his health. Pleading Guilty would have been easier and cheaper – but he would also have been a convicted Sex Offender, for a genuine mistake – and that was something he did not want to impact on his young daughters.


The incident occurred almost 16 months before his trial was heard. Sixteen months of questioning himself on whether he was doing the right thing? Was he in the wrong? Had he misread the signals? Should he just have pleaded Guilty and been frantically saving money to his daughters’ future (he was sure his career would be ruined by a sex conviction)? Part of my job was not just to advise him on the legalities of his case but to support him through it all – not only the preparation but to be there in court to answer his questions while his barrister was busy, and to support his family if the verdict was not in his favour.


In theory we have a wonderful legal system in this country – innocent until you are proven guilty. Except that’s not exactly how it works. It is for the prosecution to prove their case not yours to prove your innocence but that is not how it can feel. The media get hold of cases and even before being charged your name and image can be plastered across the press (Cliff Richard being a perfect example of this – he wasn’t even aware of an investigation!).


Our client was in a similar position – a man of good character with 20+ years of charitable service and regular volunteer work immediately suspended from those voluntary duties.  In his professional life he was pulled from a project he had been working on for almost 10 years and side lined to a non-public facing role – setting his career back 5-6 years and guaranteeing he would not receive the expected promotion at the completion of the previous project. The impact of this false allegation against him was immense – despite nothing being proven and no conviction existing he was punished. Why wouldn’t you question yourself when others around you seem quick to judge?


Luckily our client was surrounded by people who believed in him and knew his good and kind nature. They provided character statements for the court and were willing to attend court to give that evidence in person. They knew that he would never have intentionally set out to cause upset, and that he had genuinely believed that his actions were not only ok with her, but that they were wanted by her.  He was in turmoil by the idea that he had caused upset to another, and at times he was at risk of being so anxious to consider her feelings that he was doing so at the expense of his own situation.


Defending a Sexual Assault Charge is a very delicate balancing act and one Forrest Williams do very well. Just as there is no single type of Sexual Assault so there is not a single way to approach the defence.  In this case we never suggested the ‘victim’ was lying.  We never suggested she was making it up.  We never set out to suggest she was malicious in her allegation.  We just needed to show that our client’s belief in her consent was reasonable.


After hearing the evidence the Jury took less than 40 minutes to return their verdict of Not Guilty.




It was clear to them, as it had been to us, that our client had genuinely believed that she had consented to the contact. As he said, you don’t ask verbally for consent, you judge a situation, you read body language, and in this case, his interpretation was apparently mistaken – but that does not mean he was guilty of a criminal act!


After the hearing both the client and his father hugged us and thanked us for all our support over the past year. They knew that the outcome for him, and his future, would never be as it was before the allegation was made, but that his faith in himself and in us had been justified.


If you need specialist sexual assault solicitors on your side, or fighting for one of your loved ones, call our expert team now on 01623 397200.  It is vital that you get experts on side as early as possible – ideally, while police are investigating.  Do not wait to be formally charged.


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