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Government Signals Tough Sentencing Changes

knife

Over the last few days, the government has announced proposals to introduce new offences and increase sentencing for a range of other offences.

One of our criminal law experts, Rob Barley explains the proposals.

 Knife crime

Knife crime increased by 20% in the last year, prompting the government to look again at key legislation. Possession of a knife has in the same period increased by 23%.

New laws will make it an offence to deliver to a private residential address a knife sold online. All future online purchases will have to be delivered to a collection address where the age of the purchaser can be verified.

Offensive Weapons

Possession of offensive weapons in a public place is already a criminal offence, but changes to the law will see some 19 items, including flick knives and push daggers prohibited in private places as well.

The government is proposing some limited defences to these possession offences, such as for cultural, artistic or religious use, and exemptions such as museum displays.

Also, there will be a new definition of 'flick knife' to broaden the number of weapons that are classified into this category.

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Convicted before a Magistrates' Court - Can I Appeal?

appeals

Many people convicted before magistrates feel aggrieved at the outcome, and wish to consider an appeal. A grievance may arise because they think that their case was not prepared correctly, or that the court reached the wrong result. For many people, a conviction could be a major barrier to employment or travel overseas, even where the offence itself is relatively minor. The court process is far from perfect. If you have a grievance, it is only right and proper that you consider your options.

 So, what can I do about it?

The first thing to remember is that you must act quickly as you only have 21 days from the date of sentencing to appeal your conviction - you should not delay in contacting us. If more than 21 days have passed, then get in touch as soon as possible as we can advise on 'out of time appeals'. When you contact us, we will also be able to consider whether other avenues of appeal, namely judicial review and appeal by way of case stated (both to the High Court) are more suitable.

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Proposed increase in sentences available for animal cruelty offences

animalwelfare

Proposed increase in sentences available for animal cruelty offences

The government is planning to introduce legislation which will increase the maximum custodial sentence for offences under the Animal Welfare Act 2006. The current limit is six months’ imprisonment, but the new proposals would raise it to five years. This would bring England and Wales into line with other countries’ policies on animal cruelty and correct an issue of proportionality in relation to penalties available for other offences.

Offences covered by the Act

The Animal Welfare Act 2006 makes all of the following a criminal offence: causing animals unnecessary suffering (whether intentionally or not), improperly docking dogs’ tails, causing unnecessary mutilation, administering unauthorised poisons or drugs, participating in the organisation or facilitation of animal fights and failing one’s duty of care to particular animals. The Act adopts a wide definition of ‘animal’, to include any “vertebrate other than man.”

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Droning on

drone

Drones and the law

This article examines drones and the legal framework which governs their usage. It focuses on drones which are available to the public and looks at potential risks, the relevant law, one’s responsibilities as a drone owner and further caveats for particular types of drone use.

What are drones?

‘Drone’ refers to any object that can be flown without a human pilot. They can range from armed technologies used in military operations to smaller gadgets that can be purchased by members of the public. The latter category is the focus of this article. These items can be controlled remotely and may also be attached to a camera which provides a live-feed to the controller. They allow for educational, professional and leisure purposes. Various models are available which vary in size, speed, range and price.

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The Hidden Peril of Drink Driving

alcoholweb

Many people convicted of driving with excess alcohol leave court with a pretty clear idea as to the length of their driving disqualification, but for a significant number, there is a shock further down the line.

Contrary to popular belief, there is no 'right' to hold a driving licence, merely by having passed a driving test, and not otherwise being disqualified. The Secretary of State for Transport has the right, where the circumstances justify it, to withhold a licence. One of the circumstances where this arises is after a drink drive conviction if the offender is deemed 'high-risk'.

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Environment Agency Clamping Down on Criminal Activity

environmentWEB

 

People who illegally dump waste have cost land and property owners millions of pounds in the last year, according to the Environment Agency.

The financial impact, which relates to the cost of removing waste dumped in fields and empty commercial properties lawfully, could be even higher if land is contaminated or insurance premiums rise as a result. Dumped waste is also a major fire risk.

What is being done?

In a bid to reverse this problem, the Environment Agency is reaching out to property and land owners, commercial property agents, trade associations and local authorities. Their aim is to warn of the dangers posed by waste criminals and advise them, their clients and their members how they can better protect themselves. It is likely that this increased level of activity will lead to more criminal investigations and prosecutions.

Jamie Fletcher, from the Environment Agency said:

“Waste criminals operate throughout the country, offering to remove waste cheaply and then dumping it in fields or empty warehouses. They tend to move to new areas as enforcement agencies become wise to their activities. We know it’s only a matter of time before they target us again so we’re sending out a strong message: Waste criminals are not welcome here and we’re doing everything in our power to deter and catch them.

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LIAR?

Uncover the facts LIAR W

Liar, ITV's new 6-part drama, is gripping the nation, with people already reaching conclusions as to whether Laura, played by the actress Joanne Froggatt (better known for her role as Anna Bates in Downton Abbey) is telling the truth when she accuses surgeon Andrew of raping her.

For most of us, this is highly watchable drama as we flip flop between whom we believe, our perceptions changed over time by the sophisticated script and device plots.

It is no surprise that some people have formed an opinion already, and recent research demonstrated that half of the jurors might reach a guilty verdict before even going to deliberate with other jurors.

We know that people are on occasion willing to change their minds, just as you might when the plot unfolds.

It is vital therefore that a strong case is advanced from the start, laying a solid foundation for a successful defence.

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