A day in the life of a criminal solicitor – Part 2

A day in the life of a criminal solicitor - Part 2

In this article, Rob Beighton explains what he got up to yesterday

People are always interested to know exactly what being a criminal defence lawyer involves and typical questions often relate to the moral issues presented to us. So we thought we would put together a series of blogs designed to explain what we get up to and why we do what we do.  This is part 2. Part 1 can be found here.  

The reality is, it’s not our job to make moral judgments about other people’s lives. It is our job to provide logical and coherent advice, based on the legal position and to assist people who are often at a point of crisis.

Client charged with assaulting a police officer – the background

I attended the Magistrates’ Court to deal with a trial which involved an allegation that my client had assaulted a police officer by pushing him to the chest during an arrest. Under usual circumstances the prosecution would have served the evidence in the case at an early hearing, but given that the police had expected a guilty plea (anticipating that their officers are generally believed) there was no evidence for the prosecution to serve at the first hearing.  At that first hearing, a judge ordered the prosecution to serve their case within 14 days. Several requests were made to see the evidence that was to be relied on at trial in advance of the trial date but none was served. Eventually a request had been made to the court to postpone the trial to enable the evidence to be served, instructions to be taken from my client and the defence case properly prepared so that a fair trial could be possible. The court rejected the application. Two days before the trial and sixty seven days after it was ordered by the court, the statements in the case were served. The CCTV was not.

The Day of trial 

I made an application on the morning of the trial to adjourn the case to allow proper time for it to be prepared. The CPS opposed the application on the basis that the outstanding CCTV could be copied and brought to court that day by the officer in the case.

The application was refused, the magistrates felt that court time should be preserved if possible and in any event there would be at least 90 minutes for the case to be prepared for trial once the CCTV materialised. When the CCTV did arrive it was of a good quality and was actually very helpful to the defendant.  

The evidence 

The trial was conducted with the two police witnesses giving their evidence via a video link from the police station. The video link broke down on at least three occasions. There were breaks each time the officers were asked to comment on the CCTV whilst it was shown to them via the link. The officers repeatedly said that the CCTV was distorted and they could not see it properly and so were not able to comment on it.

Ultimately, submissions were made to the court that the police were not acting lawfully when they purported to arrest the defendant.

Not guilty verdict 

The Court acquitted the defendant on the basis that whilst he accepted struggling with officers he had done so in self defence. The charge against him was dismissed.

Robert Beighton

Robert Beighton

Rob is a higher courts advocate but his main practice is in the magistrates court, the youth court and at the police station where he has a wealth of experience in representing clients.

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