How To: The Cross Examination of Vulnerable Witnesses (Part 1)

Over the past decade, the criminal justice system in England and Wales has greatly improved its ability to accommodate the needs of vulnerable witnesses. If, as I do, you specialise in defending clients accused of serious sexual offences, you will no doubt have completed the Advocacy and the Vulnerable Witness training some time ago. You… Read more

Mental Incapacity and Consent to Sexual Activity: a Case Study

Sexual offences against a person with a mental disorder: at what point will a “mental disorder” mean a person lacks capacity to consent to sexual activity? Where do we draw the line? And how will incapacity be proved? Consent to sexual activity, as we know, requires (amongst other things), capacity. There are a number of… Read more

Is “Advance Consent to Sexual Activity” a Defence?

Can consent to sexual activity be given in advance? Will “advance consent” be a defence for sexual activity with a person who is asleep or unconscious?   Can a sleeping person consent to sexual activity? Common sense suggests not: consent requires capacity; and capacity, self-evidently, requires consciousness. But what about consent given in advance? What… Read more

The Sentencing Code 2020

The Sentencing Code 2020 The Sentencing Act 2020 or ‘the Sentencing Code’, as it is often referred to, came into force on 1 December 2020 and applies to all those convicted on or after this date. The Act aims to simplify, clarify and structure the complex sentencing process by helpfully consolidating the existing sentencing legislation.… Read more

Video Hearings and Disabled Defendants – A Review of the Equality and Human Rights Commission’s Interim Report

The Equality and Human Rights Commission has published a paper entitled ‘Inclusive Justice: a system designed for all’. Whilst the EHRC was already conducting an inquiry into the fair treatment of disabled people in the criminal justice system, their interim report presents a cautious set of recommendations in response to the increased pace of roll-out… Read more

Legal Advice Regarding Coronavirus Offences

The current Coronavirus pandemic has presented all of us with unprecedented challenges, especially whilst under lockdown. As a direct response, emergency legislation has been passed to ensure compliance with new laws and regulations now in force. The legislation passed comprises Schedule 21 of the Coronavirus Act 2020 and the Health Protection (Coronavirus Restrictions) (England) Regulations… Read more

Impact of the Coronavirus on the Criminal Justice System

The COVID19 pandemic has meant that every aspect of society, including the Criminal Justice System, has had to adapt to the many new challenges that we face. With much criminal case work being conducted face to face; either at the police station, in the court room or attending upon clients in the office, social distancing… Read more

Autism and Vulnerable Client Specialist Advocacy

Autism is a lifelong developmental disability which encompasses Asperger’s Syndrome and Pathological Demand Avoidance (PDA). Autism is also a spectrum condition meaning that the level of impairment ranges from being highly ‘visible’ to the casual observer to unnoticeable. Whether autism is ‘visible’ or not, autism always affects the way in which a person relates to… Read more

The Importance of Receiving Good Legal Advice in the Police Station

  We were called to the police station recently to represent a client who had been arrested in relation to an allegation of murder. The police told us that during an argument, the suspect attacked the victim by placing both hands around his neck. During this tussle, the victim collapsed and died.   This incident… Read more