Freephone: 0800 1933 999
Mobile Freephone: 01623 397 200

Chat Online

Criminal Defence Blog

Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

Arrested Juvenile – amendment to legal definition


Arrested Juvenile – amendment to legal definition


The upper age limit in the definition of arrested juvenile in section 37(15) of the Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984 (PACE) has been raised from 16 to 17 years.


When did this change take place?


On 26 October 2015, the definition of arrested juvenile under section 37(15) of the Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984 (PACE) was amended by section 42 of the Criminal Justice and Courts Act 2015. This provision was commenced by The Criminal Justice and Courts Act 2015 (Commencement No. 3 and Transitional Provisions) Order 2015


What are the effects of this amendment?


This means that for the purposes of section 38 of PACE (Duties of custody officer after charge):


  • the additional grounds for authorising detention after charge set out in subsection (1)(b); and
  • the requirement in subsection (6) to move a juvenile who has been detained after charge to local authority accommodation pending appearance at court, apply to any juvenile charged with an offence who appears to be under the age of 18.


What were the provisions prior to this change?


The statutory amendment supersedes the current provisions of PACE Code C which refer to sections 37(15) and 38 of PACE. These are:


  • Paragraph 1.5A(a) and Notes for Guidance 1L and 1M


  • Paragraph 16.7 and Note for Guidance 16D.


Until a revised code is issued, references which indicate that the maximum age limit for transfer to local authority accommodation is 16 no longer apply.


Are there any related amendments to the law?


There is also a corresponding amendment to The Children (Secure Accommodation) Regulations 1991 (as amended), Regulation 6.


This modifies section 25 of the Children Act 1989 with regard to placing children detained under section 38(6) of PACE in secure accommodation and the considerations to be applied.


The amendment simply applies the modifications previously applicable – children under the age of 17 to children who are under the age of 18.


Racially or Religiously Aggravated Threatening Behaviour

Steve Williams of Forrest Williams


Racially or Religiously Aggravated Threatening Behaviour


What does it mean to be charged with racially or religiously aggravated threatening behaviour?


We were recently contacted by a gentleman who was charged with a Public Order Offence, namely using threatening, abusive or insulting words or behaviour, or disorderly behaviour within the hearing or sight of a person likely to be caused harassment, alarm or distress.  He was also charged with the racially or religiously aggravated offence.


Our client did not really remember much of the alleged incident. Our client accepted that he was drunk. He accepted that he may have been loud. He even accepted that his behaviour could have caused concern. But he did not want to plead to something he did not remember and he was certain that he would not have been deliberately racist or religiously offensive.


We discussed this and agreed that we would obtain all the evidence from the prosecution before advising him on a plea, including the statement of the ‘victim’, any witnesses along with CCTV of the interaction from the petrol station.


The CCTV had no audio, it was a petrol station forecourt so at best it showed our client’s body language. It showed him exiting his car and walking across the forecourt to the station serving window and a verbal exchange happening. He then returned to his car before once again returning back to the shop and rattling the doors – seemingly trying to get in. This, combined with the statement of the victim, did suggest that some level of alarm was caused – we therefore advised our client to plead Guilty to the basic offence.


For the Racially or Religiously Aggravated Threatening Behaviour we looked to the victim’s statement. For an offence to be considered “racially or religiously aggravated” it must meet the following criteria:


  • At the time of committing the offence, or immediately before or after doing so, the offender demonstrates towards the victim of the offence hostility based on the victim’s membership (or presumed membership) of a racial or religious group


  • The offence is motivated (wholly or partly) by hostility towards members of a racial or religious group based upon their membership of that group.


From the victim’s statement we did not believe that either of these were proven and advised our client accordingly that a Not Guilty plea could be appropriate – the victim even said that our client did not say anything directly racist! Our client, when the comments were read back to him, was able to explain to us that it was a political discussion, that he was trying to provoke a debate – and his comments were very clearly not directed at one particular religious group or racial ethnicity as for each he commented on what could be seen to be it’s political opposite. He explained to us that certain comments were more a political commentary on the ‘tit for tat’ situation that appeared to be in place between religious extremists at the moment.  He certainly had not intended to be deliberately racist or religiously offensive.


We supported our client through the initial hearing, and then in the run up to and during the trial. Our client knew that he had a team of experts on his side that believed in him and were fighting for him. And when the verdict was read out and sentence passed he was happy with the outcome.


If you are charged with an offence and want a team who will listen to you, support you and fight for what is right for you then give the Forrest Williams team a call on 01623 600645. We know that it’s not just about the offence, we understand that this is about you, and we will work with you to obtain the best possible outcome for you.


Plea and Trial Preparation Hearings

What is a PTPH – Plea and Trial Preparation Hearing?


All cases sent to the Crown Court after 5 January 2016 will be sent to a Plea and Trial Preparation Hearing.


Q: Why has there been a change?


A: There has, for some time, been a feeling within the legal system that Preliminary Hearings (in cases where not guilty pleas are expected) have been held too early in the process and that Plea and Case Management Hearings (PCMHs) are either not necessary or do not take place at a time when they could be most effective. This has resulted in lots of different hearings. Added to this are the different local practices and recording methods, which has resulted in court orders not being clearly communicated to those who must act on them, which in turn has resulted in non-compliance. The new PTPH means the adoption of a single national process to be used in all Crown Courts.


Q: When does the PTPH take place?


A: The PTPH takes place a little later than Preliminary Hearings, usually 28 days after sending, unless the Resident Judge orders otherwise. It occurs after the prosecution has provided available information about the case and obtained details of the availability of likely prosecution witnesses. In most cases, this should be sufficient to enable the court to case manage effectively without the need for a Further Case Management Hearing (FCMH) before trial. The PTPH presumes that the parties will have communicated with each other prior to the PTPH in accordance with the duty of engagement, and that they will continue to do so after the PTPH.


Q: What are the aims of the new system?


A: The overarching aims are as follows:


  • a single national process
  • robust case management
  • a reduced number of hearings
  • the earlier resolution of pleas and the identification of the issues of the case
  • the maximum participation and engagement by every participant within the system
  • effective compliance with the Criminal Procedure Rules (CrimPR); Practice and Court Directions.


Q: I have heard of a new Digital Case System. What is this?


A: Running parallel with the introduction of the Plea and Trial Preparation Hearing in the provision of the Digital Case System (DCS) to all Crown Courts before the end of March 2016. When the DCS has been fully implemented, there will be no paper files in the Crown Court. All the documents referred to in criminal cases (i.e. indictments, statements, paper exhibits, defence statements, applications and written orders) will be uploaded onto the DCS and will then be accessible to defence lawyers via computers, tablets and smartphones. Paper copies will still be needed, however, for those without representation as well as jurors. Documents will be ‘served’ when they are uploaded onto the system AND a notification sent by email to the party or parties involved. Any paperwork handed over during a hearing will only be ‘filed’ once it has been uploaded onto the DCS.


Q: What is meant by the Common Platform and why is it important?


A: The introduction of the Plea and Trial Preparation Hearing is a step towards electronic case management and the electronic monitoring of compliance which will be possible with the introduction of the Common Platform. The use of a single national process with largely standard directions is essential to the future development of systems for the court, prosecution and defence that work one with another.


If you are looking for specialist criminal defence lawyers, call our team now on 01623 600645.


Forrest Williams solicitors

Forrest Williams TV