A day in the life of a criminal solicitor – Part 3

Created on July 10, 2017

A day in the life of a criminal solicitor - Part 3


In the latest in this series, Rob Beighton explains how he achieved success for a client facing a road traffic allegation. 

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 3. Part 1 can be found here and part 2 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.

Minor offence but with significant consequences 

On Monday I went to court to act for a defendant that had been charged with an offence of failing to stop and report an accident.

The agreed facts were that she had been involved in an collision that was not her fault, but she had left her car and the scene to take her young son to hospital.   His legs had been crushed in the accident and he was understandably in pain.  She had arranged for a friend to attend at the scene to speak to anyone that needed her details.  In the event, my client’s friend did speak with a Police Community Support Officer and provided him with my client’s details.  

Whilst she was at the hospital, the police had been to her home address and had been redirected to the hospital. They missed her by a matter of minutes but were able to confirm her attendance with a triage nurse.

Upon her arrival at home my client contacted the police station to speak to the officer in the case who’s contact details had been left with her mother.  My client was told that he was out on enquiries. She made an appointment to see him at the station the next day, which she kept. The accident was reported within 24 hours. 

A reasonable case for prosecution? 

The Crown chose not to call any witnesses to court.

The Prosecutor insisted on running the Crown’s case on the basis that the defendant should have contacted the police “as soon as was reasonably practicable” and notwithstanding the fact that the officer was not available.  It was the prosecutor’s view that my client should have gone to the station to speak to someone else.

We engaged in a lively legal debate about the meaning of “reasonably practicable” and the merits of the case in general.  7

Of course, the prosecution had decided that it would not call any witnesses. I pointed out that it was going to be very difficult for the prosecution to disprove my client’s account in the circumstances.  She had been dealing with an injury sustained by her son and it appeared clear that she had done as much as she could to report the accident.  On the face of the admitted facts it appeared that my client’s intentions had been good and almost certainly reasonable.

After a prolonged discussion and much procrastination, the prosecutor abandoned the trial and no evidence was offered.  Needless to say, my client was very relieved and grateful for my efforts on her behalf.  

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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