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Being arrested, interviewed and charged with any Criminal offence is a worrying and distressing experience. At Austin and Carnley we are able to provide clear assistance in this process.
FRAUDAn allegation of white collar fraud or business malpractice can easily cause lasting damage to an individual’s or company’s reputation from which it can be difficult or in many circumstances, impossible to recover. This is likely to be the case whether or not charges are brought or proven, the old saying “there’s no smoke without fire” still holds sway in many areas of the commercial world. Possible prosecution for offences such as Fraud, Money Laundering and Corporate Manslaughter are becoming more prevalent with the Serious Fraud Office, Trading Standards, HMRC and various regulatory bodies paying close attention to commercial and financial activities. With the introduction into law of the Bribery Act 2010 what was formerly considered normal business practice could now be seen as giving rise to criminal liability. Under this piece of legislation which came into force on 1 July 2011 a business can be liable on behalf of the actions of one individual. There are defences available if proper procedures are in place and for genuine hospitality expenditure. When an allegation of this type is made access to your assets can be restricted or even completely withheld during the investigation stage. This is done to preserve assets for future confiscation. The Court will allow an individual an allowance from restricted assets. If this is insufficient it will be necessary to apply to the court for an increase. The period between investigation and eventual court proceedings can last for years causing significant disruption and in many cases, hardship to both individuals and business. It is prudent to take legal advice at the earliest opportunity. This can often be the crucial factor in whether a matter reaches court. A court hearing will be conducted in the public eye and draw negative publicity irrespective of the eventual verdict. Early legal advice in white collar fraud cases will improve the possibility of avoiding court proceedings and the ramifications of adverse publicity; either by the matter being dropped or a negotiated settlement reached. From their experience in this field our crime team understand the stress and concerns raised by such investigations and will be more than happy to discuss your case in confidence.
MOTORINGKeeping, Protecting and Defending your licence At Austin & Carnley Solicitors we are aware of how important your driving licence is to you and the profound effect the loss of a licence can have on you and your family. The use by police of modern technology to assist in catching motorists has made this more likely than ever before. The modern motorist must be aware of mobile “speed-guns”, speed cameras, average speed checks, traffic light cameras and mobile patrols, not to mention random breathalyser checks. Whether a driving ban entails the loss of employment in these difficult economic times or adds extra pressure and inconvenience to everyday life we are aware of the stresses this can cause. To help our team of specialist road traffic law solicitors have put together this short guide. Types of disqualification There are a myriad of modern motoring offences for drivers to contend with. Some will result in an obligatory ban such as dangerous driving, drink driving and failing to provide a specimen for analysis. Others give the court a discretion to impose a ban like driving without insurance and careless driving. An individual may also lose their licence if they accumulate 12 penalty points in a 3 year period (this begins on the date the most recent offence was committed and includes points imposed for any offences committed in that period). This accumulation is known as “totting up” and the person concerned a “totter”. Offences for which points can be imposed include speeding and using a mobile phone. New drivers should be aware that if they receive 6 penalty points in their first 2 years after passing their test their licence will be revoked and they must submit to a retest (both theory and practical). Procedure There are three methods a motorist will be notified that they are to be prosecuted for a road traffic offence: You will be warned this is a possibility at the time by a police officer; or You will be charged or served with a summons within 14 days of the offence; or A notice of intended prosecution (NIP) will be sent to yourself or the registered keeper of the vehicle within 14 days. You will be given a date to attend the Magistrates Court and will be expected to enter a plea on this occasion. A not guilty plea will result in your case being set down for trial in the Magistrates Court or sent to the Crown Court depending on the seriousness of the offence. A guilty plea may be dealt with on that occasion or may be adjourned so that a report can be prepared or sent to the Crown Court if it is a serious matter. We recommend contacting a specialist road traffic solicitor well in advance of any court appearance. Ways to avoid a disqualification An obligatory and a discretionary ban can be avoided or reduced by arguing special reasons. A special reason is a mitigating or extenuating circumstance which does not amount to a defence in law but is directly connected with the commission of the offence. Successful arguments made have included ignorance of a medical condition, spiked drinks and driving in an emergency. Where an individual has accumulated 12 penalty points in 3 years and is to be disqualified as a “totter” it is possible to make an exceptional hardship argument to avoid or reduce the ban. It is accepted that hardship will result from the loss of a licence but you must prove to the court that the hardship in your case is “exceptional”. The court will take into account the hardship to be suffered by others such as family members or employees which would result from a disqualification. Whether “hardship” will be deemed “exceptional” is a question for the court to decide according to the unique circumstances of the case. We suggest taking advice from a specialist motoring defence solicitor to assist in putting forward a special reason or exceptional hardship argument. Even if you feel you do not have a special reason or exceptional hardship argument we can assist with putting forward other extenuating circumstances or mitigation to the court in an appropriate manner. Already banned? If you are the subject of a disqualification it is possible to appeal to the Crown Court against your conviction and sentence. This should normally be done within 21 days of your conviction, however it is possible to appeal out of time. A member of our team would be happy to discuss this with you. It is possible to apply to court to get your licence back early if banned. The time to apply will depend on the length of your original ban. If you are banned for less than 4 years, you can apply for return after 2 years If you are banned for 4-10 years, you can apply for return at the halfway point If you are banned for more than 10 years, you may apply for return after 5 years Remember the best way to avoid or mitigate a ban is to contact a solicitor as soon as possible.
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