Skip to main content

Hints and tips

Once in a while I will be providing useful hints and tips as and when something occurs to me.

Today I have a hint and a tip for defendants in criminal trials.

Hint - Your lawyer knows more about both the law and your case than your friends.
Tip - If you listen to your friends advice over that of your lawyer then expect to end up in prison!

This week I have been conducting a trial at a Crown Court.  For reasons that are beyond me, yesterday the defendant showed up with a friend who insisted that she a) refuse to give evidence in her own defence; and b) call a particular witness.

This causes problems.  First, the defendant declined a solicitor when interviewed by the police and made some damaging remarks that she now needs to explain - clearly she cannot do that without giving evidence.  Secondly, the witness the friend insists is called gave a statement that says the defendant is guilty!

Thankfully, I gave the client my hint and tip last night and this morning she showed up without the friend and ready to listen to sense.


  1. Uh-Huh.
    So now you have convinced her that telling the truth to the cops was a mistake.
    I guess now a few adjournments before being found guilty anyway, will help you pay the office rent - shame about the cost to the country though.....

  2. Surely whether you go to prison or not depends upon whether you committed the offence? NOT who you listened to for advice? I think you have given the game away. Just advise them to tell the truth, strange concept as it may seem to you.

  3. No, as in most jurisdictions our criminal courts operate on an adversarial basis. That means that each side puts forward their case according to their instructions.

    In my case, the defendant's instructions were that she was not guilty. She now states that she was confused in interview and was talking about events that happened outside the scene not at the scene - in this case it makes a big difference. Also, the witness is one whose details were provided to the police (in fact the witness is a police employee working in a local custody suite) but the officers decided not to take a witness statement from her.

    You (and the jury) may or may not believe the defendant's current instructions, but I would be worried about anybody who thinks that she should be deprived of the right to put forward her version of events.

    Because we operate an adversarial process each side must pick what evidence it uses. Just as we decided not to use the witness who was damaging to us, the Crown decided that one of their witnesses was damaging to them and chose not to use that witness.

    I am not allowed to advise a client to lie and I would not do so. However, as long as we have an adversarial system lawyers from both sides will have to take tactical decisions about the presentation of their case.

    If you don't like the system then maybe you should propose an alternative system that could work and provide justice.

  4. Oi, I meant to ask how you know that she was telling the truth to the police during interview? I certainly don't know if she was telling the truth then or now or at neither point. Criminal trials in the Crown Court have juries to decide points just like that. It's their job to decide who is telling the truth, not mine, the prosecutor's, the police or the judge's.

    If you would like to start a petition to have me appointed as ultimate arbiter in all disputes then I would be happy to accept the position... although would you really want to live in a medieval society where one man can decide the fate of anybody in his kingdom... which seems to be the ultimate end to your plans for me to pass judgment on all those I meet.

  5. 'you should propose an alternative system'

    OK, try this for size:

    Advise them to tell the truth.

    Everything else is smoke and mirrors, and you know it.

  6. So he/she advises the defendant to tell the truth. Defendant says they are innocent. We're back where we started aren't we?

  7. But he knows her friend wants to say she did it in court............. and he advises her not to let this happen.

  8. gadget is correct as usual....

    some simple advice of "tell them what happened" seems to be appropriate.....

  9. But it is obvious that this statement (not from a friend if you read it again) is claimed to be incorrect, so you want them to admit evidence they think is incorrect, and then try to explain it. Why should the defendant have to do that? They are presumed innocent.

  10. And as I said, the police were given this witnesses details from the start and she was easy to find working as she did in a police custody suite. But, the police chose not to do their jobs (fancy that). So, you'll have to excuse me if I don't ride to your rescue Gadget.

    Anon, my advice to her was almost word for word "tell them what happened" funnily enough she didn't tell the jury the same story as the witness.

  11. 'the police chose not to do their jobs (fancy that)'

    but she was obviously charged, so someone met a CPS evidence threshold didn't they! Oh wait, that would have been a police officer.

  12. So they did part of their job and just didn't bother to do the rest... brilliant.


Post a Comment

Popular posts from this blog

Ched Evans

Before I begin, I will say that at around 4,500 words this is probably the longest blog I’ve ever posted but I think it’s all necessary to set the scene for this case and explain the background that has been largely ignored or airbrushed in the press. Despite its length, I have not attempted to include every little detail of either fact or law but have done my best to provide a balanced picture of the Ched Evans case, what happened and why the courts reached the decisions they did. There has been so much written about the Ched Evans case over the past weekend, much of it based on a very shaky grasp of the facts and law, that I decided I would read up about the case and weigh in (hopefully on a slightly firmer footing than most of the articles I’ve read so far).

Broadly speaking there seem to be three groups who have opinions on the case:
1.Sexual violence groups (including people describing themselves as “radical feminists”) who appear to take the view that the case is awful, the Court o…

How do the police decide whether to charge a suspect?

A question I’m often asked by clients (and in a roundabout way by people arriving at this blog using searches that ask the question in a variety of ways), is “how do the police decide whether to charge or take no further action (NFA)?”
What are the options?
Let’s have a quick think about what options are available to the police at the end of an investigation.
First, they can charge or report you for summons to attend court.  Charging means that you are given police bail and are required to attend court in person.  A summons is an order from the court for you to attend or for you to send a solicitor on your behalf.  In many cases where a person is summonsed, the court will allow you the option of entering a plea by post.
Second, you may be given a caution.  These can be a simple caution, which on the face of it is a warning not to be naughty in future, or it can be a conditional caution.  Conditions could include a requirement to pay for the cost of damage or compensation, etc.  Either…

Bid to prevent defendants knowing who accuses them of a crime

When I read The Trial by Kafka and Nineteen Eighty-Four by Orwell, I took them as warnings of how a bad justice system wrecks lives of those caught up in it. Sadly, some Members of Parliament and the House of Lords seem to view the books more as a guide to how they would like our Criminal Justice System to run. Today, I read of plans to hide the names of accusers and witnesses from defendants in a large number of cases. Victims of sexual offences, such as rape, have had the right to lifelong anonymity for many years now. This means that it is a criminal offence to publish information that will lead to a complainant being identified. A Bill currently being considered by Parliament would extend that anonymity to bar defendants and their lawyers knowing the name of the person accusing them. This would apply not only in sexual offences, as has been reported in the press, but also in violent offences.
The anonymity currently offered to victims of sexual offences is not total, the complainant…