Criminal Courts Charge from a Criminally Inclined Government

May 5th  2015

 

It seems this country is hurtling towards being  a fascist State with most of the population denied any sort of proper justice as a corrupt Government steamrollers over citizens by tightening the screws of oppression little by little so people barely notice until it is too late.

The two articles below aptly described my own first hand experiences  and so I copied them from solicitors Clarke Kiernan website:

http://clarkekiernan.com/criminal-courts-charge

Criminal Courts Charge

The Lord Chancellor introduced a measure that will impact significantly on any person who finds themselves involved with the Magistrates’ Courts on any road traffic matter such as speeding, careless driving, or any other technical or low level breach of the law where the incident occurs after 12th April 2015. The idea was said to be ‘to make criminals pay for the criminal justice system’. He called it the Criminal Courts Charge.

In reality, the people who will be paying will be those ordinary working people who make a simple error and who, because they are normally law abiding, will have the income or assets to pay this extra cost. Regular offenders will tend not to have any income or assets to meet the payment. Non payment of this penalty is punishable by imprisonment no matter how low level the allegation.

If your case goes to court and you fight the allegation believing in your innocence or simply wanting to explain the circumstances to reduce the penatly, if the magistrates disagree with you they must order you to pay an extra £520 for the privilege of having the case tested, no matter how brief the hearing. The charges increase if the case gets to the crown court no matter how it gets there.

Nowadays ordinary law abiding people will have to make decisions on whether to accept a fixed penalty or whether to make false admissions for a police caution based on financial considerations rather than guilt due to the clear threat that now exists of a large extra financial penalty no matter how low level the misdemeanour or punishment.

Often people will not have taken legal advice and will not understand that taking a police caution for an allegation of eg common assault or petty theft will be recorded as a criminal record by the police and will disqualify you from many occupations, from helping out at your child’s school, restrict travel to other countries…

This is not an idea to make criminals pay, it is a way to make ordinary people pay for a system that is part of the State and payable by the State. It is an indirect further tax on working families. It is tarring people with the ‘criminal’ label indiscriminately. The impact is to convict more people, more easily and more cheaply whether or not they are guilty of a crime.

The item below was also copied from solicitors website : http://clarkekiernan.com/rant

Rant

Excuse us if we rant in a direction you do not agree with. A quote from Megarry J in the case of  John v Rees [1970] Ch. 345, Ch D and which was re-used in Moss v The Queen [2013] 1 WLR 3884, PC sets out a philosophy that we like:

“It may be that there are some who would decry the importance which the courts attach to the observance of the rules of natural justice. ‘When something is obvious,’ they may say, ‘why force everybody to go through the tiresome waste of time involved in framing charges and giving an opportunity to be heard? The result is obvious from the start.’ Those who take this view do not, I think, do themselves justice. As everybody who has anything to do with the law well knows, the path of the law is strewn with examples of open and shut cases which, somehow, were not; of unanswerable charges which, in the event, were completely answered; of fixed and unalterable determinations that, by discussion, suffered a change.”

If you look at what has been happening to the Criminal Justice System (as well as the civil system) for some years you ought to wonder how consecutive Governments can get away with concentrating on the administration of the systems to the undoubted detriment of Justice. It has become more important to Government to convict members of the public quickly and cheaply. Not only are defendants and their lawyers put under pressure to prepare the cases against them rather than trust the crown prosecution service and police to do their jobs. No longer are the prosecutors expected to do their job; Government seems to have given up on them and decided that the best, easiest, cheapest way of convicting people is to get the people to carrry  out sufficient work for the prosecution that they evenutally convict themselves – guilty or not.

The protection people had was with defence lawyers who would stand up for and protect the person’s rights. Government sorted that one out. The legal aid system is being destroyed so that those who cannot afford to pay for representation have to make use of lawyers who are underpaid and overworked. It might be denied by Government and by legal aid lawyers but it is simple business sense that you get what you paid for.

Not only has Government reduced remuneration for the legal aid lawyer to a ridiculous level but they intend to do the same again and also to reduce the number of firms able to carry out the work on legal aid. The service is to be reduced to a level most people will not believe until they (unexpectedly) find themselves in need of the assistance and discover that if they want to see their solicitor outside of the Court to prepare their case and take advice so that you are ready for the hearing then you will probably find you have to travel to the other end of your county where you will see a young, inexperienced, support staff member because the firm will not be able to afford to employ enough solicitors of quality to service the work at the level people will need in order to assert their rights.

In order to achieve what the government wants to see happen to criminal defence work it is essential that they not only reduce the number of firms, they also need to ensure firms have the minimum number of solicitors and maximum unqualified support staff and then to get the price even lower the firms will not be required to have any offices. Those who can afford to instruct good firms like ours will do so much better than those who have to manage on legal aid. That is not in fact the criminal justice system we like to see. It is not the system our government should be forcing upon us.

In order to see the ways in which Government has managed to increase the burdens on defendants to convict themselves you only need to study the Criminal Procedure Rules that are carefully drafted to add to burdens for defendants in a way that ignores and overrides their statutory protections. Notwithstanding that the prosecution takes months usually to bring a case to court for the first hearing, they are encouraged to give minimum disclosure of the case the defendant is expected to meet at the first hearing but the defendant is then expected (compelled) to identify all issues they will want to rely upon notwithstanding the disclosure is inadequate and there has been no opportunity to investigate matters, check availability of witnesses, seek any expert evidence or just generally give decent instructions and take good advice. There is no leeway given for people whose first language is not English or have mental health and/or learning difficulties.

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