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Showing posts from January, 2014

To plead or not to plead

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I represented a defendant today who was accused of being drunk in charge of a motor vehicle, which is essentially an offence the police can charge where they cannot prove that somebody has driven or is about to drive.
The scope of the offence is very wide, essentially you are guilty if you are a) over the drink driving limit; and b) in charge of a motor vehicle.  So, in theory if you have a few drinkies at home and your car is parked outside you could be guilty of a drink driving offence.  Obviously this would be both silly and unjust, so there is a defence built into the statute that you are not guilty if there is no likelihood of you driving the vehicle while over the drink driving limit.
In today’s case, this defence was wide open to my client.  I won’t bore you with the full details but essentially the client states that he was out drinking with his girlfriend and friends.  She let slip that she had been sleeping with somebody else behind his back and in a drunken fit of emotion …

What don't you like about human rights?

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The past few weeks have been mildly interesting if you like reading about human rights and why we shouldn’t have them.  The idea of people arguing that they shouldn’t be entitled to human rights always reminds me of a friend of mine who hates the idea of consumer rights, not because he runs a business but on principle; not that he lets it stop him exercising his consumer rights when it suits him.
My friend also hates human rights.  He doesn’t dislike them or disagree with them, he hates them.  Like many people who despise the notion of human rights he is also passionately anti-Europe (although unlike most people he understands that the European Union has nothing to do with the European Convention on Human Rights).  Also like most people who hate human rights, my friend can’t say which of the individual rights he would like done away with (and he does know them all being a law graduate from King’s College London and the University of Law).
The rights and freedoms protected by the ECHR…

Britain's deregulation

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Special measures for witnesses

Following on from my earlier post on the Government’s plans to bring in new rights for victims I thought it might be worth saying something more about the final promise David Cameron made to victims, namely that there would be “more protection for witnesses”.
Since Dave wants to offer more protection for witnesses, I thought it would be interesting to think about what protections already exist and then compare those to what Mr Cameron is offering.  However, we can’t do that since Dave hasn’t offered any firm proposals beyond the vague “more protection for witnesses” promise.  So, we’ll just have to see what currently exists.
Current special measures
A special measure is something that the court can use or do to ensure that a witness provides the best evidence possible.  They apply equally to prosecution and defence witness, although they do not apply at all to the defendant himself.  A witness can avail him or herself of a special measure if they are under 18 at the time of the heari…

Drink driving: proposed sentence increase

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As regular readers will know, I run a drink driving solicitor firm and so have a particular interest in drink driving cases, so when I came across the Drink Driving (Repeat Offenders) Bill on the Parliament website I had to say something about it.
Rehman Chishti MP for Gillingham and Rainham has laid the Drink Driving (Repeat Offenders) Bill before Parliament under the 10-minute rule.  Because it is a private members bill there is little chance of it becoming law unless the government decides to allow it sufficient Parliamentary time to progress through Parliament.
Currently people convicted of drink driving can receive a maximum of six-months imprisonment no matter how many times they have been convicted in the past and no matter how high the level of alcohol in their system at the time they drove.
The Drink Driving (Repeat Offenders) Bill will give magistrates the power to send cases to the Crown Court where offenders can be sent to prison for up to two-years.  It’s unclear whether…

Aiming for a century

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Continuing his legal fuckwittery, David Cameron, Prime Minister, has announced that he would like to see courts bowling defendants out with 100-year sentences because the nasty European Court of Human Rights has said that whole life sentences are unlawful in the case of Vinter v United Kingdom.
As usual I’m annoyed by this because it is nothing more than a bid to shift the politics of the UK in an ever more xenophobic direction.
The start of 2014 saw the Labour party, led by the son of an immigrant, shift a bit further to the right when they joined the Conservatives, UKIP and a collection of other anti-foreigner types by scaremongering about the hordes of Bulgarians and Romanians due to sweep across the UK on the 1st January 2014.  Labour took the ironic decision to send another immigrant in the form of Keith Vaz (born in Aden, Yemen to Indian parents) to monitor the arrival of immigrants arriving in the UK.  He was left looking somewhat stupid when flights arrived (often only two-th…

Victims Charter

I’ve been reading that “Call me Dave” Cameron, our esteemed Prime Minister, is jolly keen on strengthening the rights of victims through his toughened up Victims Charter.
The aim of the charter is to combat complaints from victims of crime who feel that the criminal justice system fails to take account of their views and needs.  Before we go any further, it’s worth saying that despite some changes to court procedures; victims of crime play only a small part in the over-all criminal justice system.  This is because the system developed essentially as a way to allow the King of the day to dispense justice, which he wanted to do to keep control of his kingdom.  This developed over centuries to the current system whereby the state brings a prosecution against an individual (although even today all criminal cases are technically brought by Her Majesty the Queen against an individual).  Because of this historic development victims are not a party to criminal cases and so they have no repre…