Offences contrary to the Public Order Act

We were instructed by Mr S who had attended court unrepresented and pleaded guilty to two offences contrary to the Public Order Act. The court, after hearing from the prosecution as to the circumstances of the two matters, took the view that the situation was so serious that Mr S could face prison. His case was therefore adjourned off for a probation report.

It was at this point that he came to see us and after we had taken his instructions regarding the circumstances of the incident it became clear to us that he had a defence at law to each of these two allegations and this was carefully explained to him.

We then had to make an application to the court to allow the case to be re-opened which was presented on the basis that our client, when he had attended unrepresented, did not know or understand the legal components of the offences that he wrongly admitted and that it would be in the interests of justice to allow the case to be re-opened and for his original pleas of guilty to be vacated. After that argument was put to the Magistrates and they gave it some careful thought they agreed that the case should progress in that way and therefore our client was able to enter pleas of not guilty and the case was adjourned for trial.

A short while before the trial was due to take place contact was received from the Crown Prosecution Service who indicated that they were willing to accept a guilty plea in respect of one of the two matters. After advising our client of this he confirmed that he would plead guilty to a less serious offence than the offences that he had originally faced and this was accepted by the prosecution.

The significance of all of this was that the offence which was pleaded to was right at the bottom of the scale of seriousness for offences of the type with which he was charged. This offence did not even carry a prison sentence.

Therefore the situation in which our client found himself was that from originally facing two charges and being told that he might be sent to prison the matter ended up with him pleading guilty to a single non imprisonable offence for which he received a Conditional Discharge.

There is a moral to this case and it is that defendants should avoid appearing in court unrepresented because they can get themselves into difficulties from which they might have problems extracting themselves.

If you find yourself facing criminal proceedings and you do not have a solicitor, ring us! We will give you a free initial 30 minute consultation which will enable any significant issues to be identified and legal representation to be arranged if necessary.

Contact Chris Bailey on 02476 553181.