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How intrusive will a police investigation be?

Once an investigation commences, the police are obliged to pursue all lines of enquiry whether they point towards guilt or towards the innocence of the person under investigation. The nature of the investigation and the particular lines of enquiry pursued will of course depend on the type of matter being investigated. Investigating officers do enjoy far reaching powers to assist them in their investigation. However there are extensive checks and measures on these powers, which serve to safeguard the rights of the accused individual.

At Vardags our legal experts will critically examine the conduct of investigating officers and will be quick to make robust representations against any conduct we consider unlawful either because it is outside the officers powers or because it becomes oppressive and disproportionate to the crime under investigation.

Frequently Asked Questions - Criminal defence

A police caution may be awarded in the less serious sorts of criminal cases as an alternative to charge. A person who receives a police caution for an offence does not have to attend court and will therefore avoid the time, expense, and disruption of court proceedings. They will also avoid the risk of receiving a conviction for an offence.However, whilst it is clearly a less serious sanction than a criminal conviction, it must be understood that a caution is still a serious matter in its own right. It will remain on the police national computer and should you work within a number of limited occupations you might be obliged to disclose the fact of the caution to a potential employer. Furthermore, certain countries will require an individual to disclose a caution for the purposes of travel and visa applications.Given the complexity of the law around cautions and the potential impact on an individual’s reputation, it is essential that a person seeks legal advice before accepting one.

When someone first comes into contact with the criminal justice system, there is a tendency for them to immediately think the worst without any consideration to the strength of the evidence against them, the stage of the proceedings, and most importantly the gravity of the alleged offence.Just because an individual may accept the truth of an allegation made against them, there are a wide range of factors which will still need to be considered by the courts in arriving at an appropriate sentence. A prison sentence represents the severest of sentences reserved for the gravest of cases. They are not passed lightly and there is increasing pressure on judges to use alternative means of punishment where at all appropriate given the well documented problems of overcrowding in our prisons.

Whether someone pleaded guilty or was found guilty after trial there is a route to appeal the sentencing decision usually in situations where they can be shown to be wrong in law or wrong in principle or where it was simply excessive.The regime for appealing a sentencing decision is different depending on whether the original decision was made in the Magistrates’ Court or Crown Court and there are different implications which may flow from the two separate procedures.Vardags experience of challenging the legal status quo and taking cases to the highest courts means that we are well-placed to fight your appeal. We will leave no stone unturned and can often find innovative ways to put your case.

The decision to charge an individual with a criminal offence is based on a two-fold test. The first stage of the test involves an assessment of the strength of the evidence in the case. If there is sufficient evidence, the police must go on to consider whether a charge would be in the public interest. At this stage consideration will be given to whether the matter can be appropriately dealt with by way of an out of court disposal. In determining whether an out of court disposal is an appropriate alternative to charge the police will consider the nature of the offence, its seriousness, the impact upon the victim, and other factors such as whether the individual has any antecedents.

Receiving a request for your child to attend a police interview can be highly distressing. In such a scenario, it is crucial that you seek out the best legal representation immediately. Police interviews are a key part of any investigation and must be treated accordingly.Having a specialist criminal lawyer represent your child from the start of proceedings will allow them to assess the facts of the case and determine the likely outcomes so that they can give advice in relation to all eventualities. It is always advisable that anyone being interviewed by the police to be accompanied by legal representation who can give them expert advice and guide them on each stage of the process. This is particularly the case with children, who are more likely to be overwhelmed by the process.

A decision to answer police questions should not be taken lightly. The interviewing officers are trained to ask certain questions which have a specific legal purpose, and it is important that a person is fully advised of their legal position before attempting to answer these questions.Before entering the interview room, we will ensure our clients are provided with as much information as possible about the allegations and the supporting evidence. We will provide thorough advice as to the law underpinning the allegations, the merits of the case, and whether indeed the evidence requires an answer at all.

When someone is arrested and detained at a police station they each have a designated custody officer whose primary responsibility is the welfare of that person during their time in custody.The maximum time someone can be held in custody pre-charge is 24 hours. The custody sergeant is responsible for ensuring the detention remains lawful throughout that period. They are also responsible for ensuring any action taken during the detention period is in accordance with legislation and the codes of practice, including any searches conducted by investigating officers, interviews, and other steps considered necessary to further the investigation.

If the decision is made to undertake an investigation, the investigating officers should ensure that the key evidence is obtained as soon as possible. They must act fairly to all parties involved and they are duty bound to pursue all avenues of enquiry including those that may undermine the allegation or point to the innocence of the accused individual.Normally the police interview will form a key part of an investigation. The officer conducting the interview must ask all questions they consider relevant to obtaining accurate and reliable information about the offence. They must also allow the suspect the opportunity to give an innocent explanation.

If a formal allegation has been made against your child, it is imperative that you seek out legal advice and representation as soon as possible. Sexual offence cases can often rest on one individual’s testimony against another and so having a skilled defence lawyer by your side is invaluable in helping you to navigate this complex process that can be highly emotional.

Financial services institutions provide safeguards against this financial crime. The FCA itself imposes protective monitoring procedures on banks and professional services firms to manage investment fraud risk, with these industries being especially at risk of receiving/facilitating the proceeds of these crimes. The obligations of these institutions include identifying potential customers, monitoring account activity, reporting suspicious activity to the National Crime Agency, and having robust policies in place to prevent these activities.  

Whether an individual will be subjected to bail will first depend on how the matter reached the Magistrate Court. If the individual was summoned to court, there is no obligation upon the court to impose bail and the court may decide to arrange simply for the individual’s attendance at any further court hearings without imposing bail at all. Where a person appears at the Magistrate Court following charge at the police station however, the court must remand that person. The Court may remand on bail or in custody.

Once an investigation commences, the police are obliged to pursue all lines of enquiry whether they point towards guilt or towards the innocence of the person under investigation. The nature of the investigation and the particular lines of enquiry pursued will of course depend on the type of matter being investigated. Investigating officers do enjoy far reaching powers to assist them in their investigation. However there are extensive checks and measures on these powers, which serve to safeguard the rights of the accused individual.At Vardags our legal experts will critically examine the conduct of investigating officers and will be quick to make robust representations against any conduct we consider unlawful either because it is outside the officers powers or because it becomes oppressive and disproportionate to the crime under investigation.

How a person responds to questions in interview may have a profound impact on the course of that investigation and any subsequent charging decision.Therefore, no matter how informal and friendly the police may sound over the phone, you should waste no time in seeking legal advice.

The overall length of court proceedings will partly depend upon the nature of the offence which will in turn determine whether the matter will be heard in a Magistrates’ Court or Crown Court.If a matter at the Crown Court is to be contested at trial, it might take anything from a matter of months to in excess of 12 months to conclude whereas you are unlikely to wait longer than a couple of months for a trial in the Magistrates’ Court. Crown Court cases usually involve more complex evidence and there are often a greater number of legal issues which must be resolved before trial. The trial itself will be heard before a jury and will therefore be a slower and more drawn out affair and which in turn affects court room availability and waiting times.

Despite the impression given by heavy-handed investigations in TV police dramas, there are many checks and measures on police powers of investigation that arise out of numerous sources of legislation, codes of practice, and other guidance. In fact, where the police have already contacted an individual and secured their cooperation with an investigation, it will often not be necessary to proceed to an arrest at all.

The starting position is that evidence of a person’s misconduct or disposition towards misconduct is deemed inadmissible and should not form part of any trial.However, there are a number of ways in which this evidence may be admitted. The judge will consider the nature and severity of any prior misconduct, the number of past incidents, the time that has elapsed and their relevance to the allegations in question. The conduct of the accused during trial might also have a bearing on the decision to admit evidence of bad character.The defendant and their legal representation must be prepared to ensure any application for its admittance is robustly opposed, and where the application is granted, to ensure the prejudicial effect is limited.

Despite the fact that the presumption of innocence is a fundamental principle at the heart of our justice system, there is a stigma which attaches to anyone who is accused of criminal activity. In addition to robustly defending our client in the face of criminal allegations, we will work exhaustively to protect our client’s reputation throughout the process.

Following arrest, a person can be held in police detention for up to a total of 24 hours (in normal circumstances) before a charging decision must be made. Upon charge the police will usually release the individual on bail to attend court. There are only a limited number of occasions where the individual will be held in custody to attend court such as where the police have reasonable grounds to suspect that if released that individual will commit further offences, abscond, or interfere with the course of justice.Where the police may have some concerns about granting bail they may impose conditions on bail such as a condition that a person must reside at their home address or a condition forbidding an attempt to contact the complainant in the case.

At the outset of a person’s detention the detained person is advised of their rights during detention, which include the right to inform someone of their arrest and their right to free and independent legal advice. A detained person is also entitled to speak with someone for a reasonable period of time over the telephone.Where a person appears under the age of 18 they will be considered a juvenile. The custody sergeant will ensure that an appropriate adult – usually a parent – is informed of the detention and will ask them to attend the police station and accompany their child during the detention period.Where the detainee exercises their right to legal advice, they must be permitted to consult with a solicitor as soon as practicable.

There are a number of significant moments during the course of criminal proceedings in which decisive intervention can be made to halt proceedings on the basis that there is insufficient evidence.There is opportunity to make representations to this effect prior to any decision to charge, and at both the Magistrates’ and Crown Court. Once the matter progresses to the trial itself it is still open to the defence to make an application that there is no case to answer.

Given what is at stake in a criminal trial nothing can be left to chance and an individual facing trial must be assured that their lawyers are working tirelessly to both strengthen the defence case and exploit any weaknesses in the Crown’s evidence and by doing so afford them the best chance of acquittal.If you are dissatisfied with your current lawyer, it is never too late to move to Vardags. We are experienced at taking over cases from other firms. Our innovative approach to the law can often get results which other firms cannot.

On hearing that you may be the subject of a police investigation, it is natural to want to find out as much information as you can. There may be a temptation to speak directly with the police to clear your name or clear any misunderstanding you feel has arisen. We strongly advise however that you do not attempt to speak to either the police or anyone else you think might be involved in the investigation before seeking legal advice.Any communication with the police especially at the outset of an investigation should be approached in a delicate and sensitive way. We are able to judge how best to approach the police having had years of experience in engaging with investigating authorities. We will discuss with you the pros and cons of contacting the police in any given situation. We will pursue any enquiries in a tactful manner and where it is clear that investigations have commenced, we will do our best to ensure that where possible any action taken by the police is done with the minimum disruption to your personal and professional life.

The circumstances in which a police officer may make a lawful arrest are clearly defined in statute, and in all such circumstances the power to arrest only becomes exercisable where the arresting officer has reasonable grounds for believing the arrest is necessary.The custody officer must make available any documents or material necessary to challenge the lawfulness of a person’s arrest and detention. At Vardags we are proactive in ensuring that the decision to arrest and detain is thoroughly scrutinised and robustly challenged where necessary.

If somebody close to you is arrested, whether it be a friend, a partner or a relative, this will inevitably be a stressful and upsetting time for you, and of course your loved one. There are various things that you can do to support your loved one, but you need to remain calm so that your actions do not aggravate the situation.  

An arrest will normally result in the detention of an individual for the purposes of further investigation. However, an arrest will often lead to the use of additional police powers which will potentially have an even greater impact on the arrested person than an initial loss to their liberty.At Vardags our priority is to limit the potential impact of a police investigation on the individual. We have a wealth of experience of working with the police and other investigative bodies, and we will use this experience to intervene and prevent an arrest where at all possible. Where an arrest has taken place we will scrutinise the decision and robustly challenge the arrest where we consider it unlawful.

There is a lot of overlap between the criminal offences of robbery and extortion. However, there are also significant differences and it is important to understand what the requirements are for each offence to make it clear which applies in the relevant circumstances.One of the main differences revolves around consent. For robbery to occur, the victim will not be giving consent for the items to be taken and instead they are taken by force. However, with extortion- there is a degree of consent (albeit unwittingly) and the victim does agree to the defendant taking the items to prevent the threat from occurring.Another difference is when the threat will occur. For robbery to have taken place, the threat has to be of immediate physical harm. With extortion, the threat of harm does not have to be at that point- it can be in the future and this will still amount of the offence of extortion being committed.

Once the investigating officers have exhausted all lines of enquiry, they will hand over any evidence gathered to a reviewing officer and often to a lawyer at the Crown Prosecution Service who will then consider the evidence and decide whether or not to charge the individual with one or more offences.Vardags will work tirelessly to ensure that wherever possible a matter does not progress to charge. There are a number of alternative options available to the police to dispose of a matter. Where our client’s instructions would make it appropriate, we will engage with the police to ensure wherever possible that even where the evidential test has been passed, the matter is concluded by one of the alternative methods of disposal.

A police interview is the questioning of a person regarding their involvement or suspected involvement in a criminal offence, and it forms a key component of any investigation.The right approach will depend on the specific circumstances of the case, such as its size and complexity, the extent to which the police have disclosed evidence supporting the allegation, and how far the evidence requires an answer. We will actively intervene on behalf of our client to prevent an interview where we do not believe it is justified.

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