Pre Charge Representations

By taking a proactive approach, our pre-charge representations aim to avoid any form of prosecution.

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What To Expect

The Pre-Charge Representations Process

The police or another investigative authority will initially interview a suspect under caution in the early stages of the investigation.

When they have concluded their investigation, they will, in certain cases, approach the crown prosecution service for charging directions. It is the CPS who decides the outcome in these cases and not the police.

The investigation and decision-making processes can take months and, in some cases, years, depending on the severity of the crime in question, i.e. sexual offences.

There are lawyers who will be happy to wait for an outcome following an interview under caution. We at SJB Legal, however, adopt a more proactive defence approach in respect of both pre-charge engagement and pre-charge representations. This can lead to a successful outcome in avoiding any prosecution at all.

We can look to make written representations to the crown prosecution service on a case-by-case basis. The crown prosecutor would consider the representations made alongside the police case file.

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Are The Police Always Impartial?

The short answer is no! Some police officers are very keen for a prosecution to take place. If they have put effort into a case, they may feel they have failed if the CPS decide to take no further action.

They can be tempted to portray a biased picture of the evidence and/or the character of the suspect. This could influence the CPS to send the matter before the court. Approaches by us could get the CPS to take a more balanced view.

You could leave it to the court stage for your defence team to attack the police on biased attitudes. However, by then, you would have incurred costs and inconvenience. You may also have to wait months for a hearing. Even then, you are at the mercy of the courts, who themselves can tend to be biased in favour of the police.

It is unusual for criminal defence lawyers and suspects to be privy to the police case file at this stage of the process. This can place lawyers at a disadvantage in identifying the strengths and weaknesses of a case. This is different to the court process, whereby the prosecution is required by law to serve evidence on the defence that they intend to rely on after a suspect has been charged or summonsed to appear in court.

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Funding Available For Pre-Charge Representations

The Police & Criminal Evidence Act 1984 states that:

“A person arrested and held in custody in a police station or other premises shall be entitled, if he so requests, to consult a solicitor privately at any time.”

You do have the right to free and independent legal advice if the police wish to question you. Please be aware, though, that this may restrict you to legal advice and assistance ‘whilst at the police station’ only. It is unlikely that a legal aid lawyer will provide any further assistance other than being present when the police question you. They are unlikely to make any pre-charge representations to the CPS.

On the other hand, we offer a proactive defence and a ‘no stone left unturned’ approach. We are not limited to the legal services that we could provide at the investigation stage of the process. We handle exclusively privately funded cases. The legal services we offer both before and after the interview process can only have a beneficial influence on your case, which in turn can lead to a positive outcome.

Please get in touch today to discuss the legal services that are available and that we can offer you. We can have an initial consultation with you in order to have an understanding and appreciation of your case. This will enable us to put together a fixed fee package to suit your personal needs. We will then put together a quotation for you. This will be a competitive fixed fee to be clear as to what legal costs you will incur from the very outset of your case.

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The Code for Crown Prosecutors

The general principles that should be followed when Crown Prosecutors make a decision on a case are set in a two-stage test as follows:

The Full Code Test

The CPS prosecutor must apply for the full code test when making a charging decision and must be satisfied that:

  1. There is sufficient evidence to secure a realistic prospect of a conviction. In reaching a decision, careful consideration will have to be given to the reliability and credibility of the evidence as well as whether it would be admissible in court. A case, which does not pass the ‘evidential stage’, must not proceed.
  2. In a case where there is sufficient evidence to prosecute, prosecutors must then go on to consider if it is in the ‘public interest’ to prosecute or to deal with the case by way of out-of-court disposal such as a caution.

Public interest factors to be considered:

  • The seriousness of the offence being investigated.
  • The level of culpability.
  • Circumstances of the complainant and the harm caused.
  • Suspect’s age and maturity at the time of the offence.
  • Impact on the community.
  • Is a prosecution a proportionate response?
  • Do the sources of information require protection?

The Threshold Test

This will be applied in limited circumstances where the Full Code Test is not met.

The case must justify the immediate use of a charging decision, having been arrested with substantial grounds for the refusal of bail. An example could be in the case of a serious sexual offence.

For this test to be applied, five conditions must be satisfied:

  1. There are reasonable grounds to suspect that the person to be charged has committed the offence.
  2. Further evidence can be obtained to provide a realistic prospect of conviction within a reasonable time frame.
  3. The seriousness of the circumstances of the case justifies an immediate charging decision.
  4. There are substantial grounds to object to bail.
  5. It is in the public’s interest to charge.

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"Mr Bunker is amazing! We would not have been able to complete the voluntary interview without him. 5 stars all the way. He gave great advice and guidance and was very supportive throughout the whole interview. We got the outcome we wanted. I would definitely recommend him!"

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