The Criminal team of Askews Legal LLP understands the stresses a Criminal investigation has on an individual and their family. For that reason every case is treated and dealt with independently and with a professional service. Our service ensures high calibre representation from the investigation stage of any case all the way through to trial, be it in the Magistrates Court for minor cases up to the Crown Court, the Court of Appeal of the Supreme Court.
Askews Legal LLP has extensive experience of defending all types of crime and regulatory actions brought by the Crown Prosecution Service on behalf of the Police, including organised and serious crime, local authority enforcement units, HMRC, SFO and other regulatory prosecuting authorities.
Askews Legal LLP enjoys good relationships with experienced Counsel both locally and nationally that rewards our clients with expert advice and advocacy. Likewise, we benefit from the same high quality relationship with other professional practitioners that ensures all cases and clients benefit from the added value of independent professional expert advice.
We are happy to discuss your representation in any criminal prosecution or regulatory action brought against you.
Areas of Law Covered:
- ASSAULT & GRIEVOUS BODILY HARM
- BENEFIT FRAUD
- DRUGS OFFENCES
- MORTGAGE FRAUD
- MONEY LAUNDERING
- MURDER & MANSLAUGHTER
- CORPORATE MANSLAUGHTER
- PEOPLE TRAFFICKING
Three main offences of violence are the ones that can be dealt with in the Crown Court under the Offences Against the Person Act 1861.
Section 47 Assault is in fact an either way offence which means it can be dealt with in the Magistrates Court or the Crown Court and arises when actual bodily harm has been caused. In the Crown Court it carries a maximum sentence of five years imprisonment.
Section 20 Assaults involves grievous (or really serious) bodily harm or a wound. Again, the offence is either way which means it can be dealt with in the Magistrates Court or the Crown Court. In the Crown Court the maximum sentence is five years imprisonment. Whilst the injuries are more serious than a Section 47 Assault, the reason for the same maximum sentence is the fact that there is no intent to cause the injuries.
The most serious offence of violence is Section 18 GBH/Wounding. This offence is indictable only, which means it can only be dealt with in the Crown Court. The maximum sentence is 15 years imprisonment.
Benefit fraud can include offences relating to the payment of benefits by the Department of Work and Pensions as well as payments made by local authorities in respect of Housing Benefit and Council Tax.
The principal offences likely to be used to prosecute benefit fraud matters are Failing to disclose a change in circumstances, Making false representations to obtain benefit and fraud. Many of these cases will be dealt with in the Magistrates Court as the prosecution generally seek to have such matters dealt with in this way where the fraud involves sums up to £35,000.
A conviction for benefit fraud may be a conviction for dishonesty and have a hugely detrimental effect on an individual’s character and future prospects.
A conspiracy is simply an agreement to engage in an illegal or criminal act. It requires two or more people and even if the act is not carried out the offence may be complete.
An offence of conspiracy can be connected to many criminal allegations such as murder, robbery, theft, supply or importation of drugs, fraud and so on. Cases involving conspiracy tend to be larger with multiple defendants and higher levels of complexity.
Drugs offences are primarily prosecuted under the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971. Offences range from simple possession of lower level drugs through to possession with intent to supply, importation and cultivation offences.
Large scale investigations lead to conspiracy charges. Cases often involve undercover Police operations, complex telephone evidence, detailed forensic investigations involving DNA, fingerprints and analysis of drugs. Following conviction, confiscation proceedings are likely.
There are a wide range of firearms offences from those involving air weapons and firearms certificates to much more serious matters relating to possession of certain weapons. The most serious firearms offences are almost always dealt with in the Crown Court and can attract very lengthy custodial sentences.
The offence of possessing a prohibited weapon, which covers certain sorts of firearms, is one that carries a mandatory 5 year term of imprisonment. Offences such as Possessing a firearm with intent to endanger life carry a maximum sentence of life imprisonment.
Harassment involves pursuing a course of conduct which a person either knew or ought to have known amounted to harassment. There is a more serious offence of harassment that causes a person to fear that violence will be be used. Harassment offences can cover a wide range of activities including, in certain circumstances, text messages and telephone calls. Such offences can also be alleged to have taken place over a significant period of time. Very often allegations of harassment arise in the context of the end of a relationship.
Convictions for harassment offences can have a hugely detrimental effect on an individual’s character and future prospects. It is essential that advice is sought at an early stage where harassment is being alleged.
Mortgage fraud involved fraudulent obtainment of a loan secured on a property. Details provided to the lender are in some way false and as a consequence the mortgage is authorised. Typically this can involve false income and/or employment details, a false valuation of a property, misleading the lender as to occupancy and failure to disclose other liabilities (including other mortgages).
Substantial mortgage fraud investigations can lead to targeting not only the investors but professionals, such as solicitors, accountants, financial advisors, mortgage brokers etc, being dragged into the investigation of potential criminal proceedings.
The principal money laundering offences are now found at Sections 327, 328 and 329 of the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002 which came into force in February 2003. Money laundering is an act which constitutes an offence under the sections or a conspiracy or an attempt to commit such an offence. This is a complex area of law. As a starting point the crime has to prove that the laundered proceeds are ‘criminal property’ in that they constitute an individuals benefit from criminal conduct.
The offence at section 327 involves concealing criminal property, section 328 involves entering into an arrangement (such as an individual working in a financial or credit institution, accounts etc), and section 329 involves the acquisition, use and possession of criminal property.
These are hugely complex areas of law. The maximum sentence for a money laundering offence is 14 years imprisonment.
Offences of murder and manslaughter vary immensely and can include complex conspiracies, gang related killings, domestic violence, fights that result in death and cases of child cruelty.
Medical evidence, telephone connectivity, forensic evidence involving DNA or fingerprints and psychiatric evidence can all come into play in a murder investigation. Complex cases may involve vast swathes of unused material.
Manslaughter cases which inevitably end up being dealt with at a Crown Court. The aim of the Corporate Manslaughter and Corporate Homicide Act 2007 (CM & CH Act 2007) is to improve the protection of employees and the public from management failures by holding companies responsible and allowing companies rather than individuals to be punished. It is now much easier to prosecute companies when a senior management failure has resulted in death. In owner managed businesses an individual could be at risk of prosecution if it can be determined that they had an active part in the day to day running of the business. Our aims are to vigorously defend companies accused of any such wrongdoing. If you have been accused of corporate manslaughter, it is essential that you instruct an experienced firm of solicitors.
Human trafficking has been defined as ‘the recruitment, transportation, transfer, harbouring or receipt of persons, by means of threat or use of force or other forms of coercion, of abduction, of fraud, of deception, of abuse of power or of a position of vulnerability or of the giving or receiving of payments or benefits to achieve the consent of a person having control over another person, for the purpose of exploitation’. The definition continues to define exploitation by stating that it ‘shall include, at a minimum, the exploitation of the prostitution of others or other forms of sexual exploitation, forced labour or services, slavery or practices similar to slavery, servitude or removal of organs’.
Human smuggling is characterised by illegal entry and international movement but is a voluntary act and doesn’t involve the exploitation of the smuggled person. There is not likely to be any coercion or violence from those assisting in the smuggling.
Smuggling facilitates entry into the UK but the immigrants concerned are usually complicit in the offence whereas with trafficking, the person who is trafficked has little choice as to what happens to them.
One of the most serious offences of trafficking is trafficking into the UK for sexual exploitation under the Sexual Offences Act 2003 and such offences carry a maximum sentence of imprisonment of 14 years. What’s more, the offence is known as a ‘lifestyle offence’ under the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002 and will therefore attract confiscation proceedings upon conviction.
Robbery involves theft with a use or threat of violence.
The more serious offences of robbery are often prosecuted as conspiracies and frequently involve weapons, including firearms, commercial premises such as banks, or cash in transit. The stakes are high and upon conviction lengthy sentences are imposed. Defending allegations of robbery may involve expertise in dealing with phone evidence, cell site analysis, content of text messages as well as fingerprint evidence, evidence of undercover offices, particularly observation evidence.
Terrorism offences can be brought under The Terrorism Act 2000, The Anti Terrorism, The Crime and Security Act 2001, the Prevention of Terrorism Act 2005, The Terrorism Act 2006 and the Counter Terrorism Act 2008.
The offence of terrorism is defined under The Terrorism Act 2000 and involves the use or threat of action where the action involves violence against the person, damage to property, endangers a persons life, creates risk to public, health or safety or is designed to interfere with or seriously disrupt an electronic system. The use or threat is designed to influence the Government, intimidate the public and the use or threat is made to the purpose of advancing a political religion or ideological cause. If firearms or explosives are involved, there is no requirement that the use or threat is intended to influence the Government or intimidate the public.
Typical offences include the following:
- Preparing for acts of terrorism
- Training for terrorism
- Dissemination of terrorist publications
- Possessing information for terrorist purposes
- Fund raising for terrorism
- Failure to disclose information which might be of assistance in preventing an act of terrorism
- Conspiracy to murder
- Conspiracy to cause explosives
Theft involves the dishonest appropriation of property belonging to another with the intention of permanently depriving the other person of it (Section 1, Theft Act 1968).
The definition can cover a whole range of offences from shoplifting to theft by finding to theft during the course of employment, theft of a motor vehicle and so on.
A theft conviction is by definition conviction for dishonesty and has a hugely detrimental effect on an individual’s character and future prospects.