The disturbances that initially started in Tottenham on Saturday 6th August and then spread to various of London as well as other parts of the country have divided the nation as to how and why they began, and who was responsible.
Within a short period of time, there have been an unprecedented number of people arrested and charged for offences related to the disorder.
Courts in London and elsewhere have sat through the night in order to accommodate the cases that followed and we at BSB Solicitors echo the concerns of others that it is vital that justice is not compromised in the process.
For example, we note that the dramatic increase in those being remanded in custody- figures suggest when normally the figure is 3.5% this has now been increased to 60%- as well as the lengthy sentences that have already been passed for relatively minor offences.
We also recognise that it is easy to be caught up in a crowd leading to an arrest when the person had no involvement in any criminal offences.
BSB Criminal Defence Solicitors have extensive experience representing those charged with offences under the Public Order Act.
In 2005 Jonathan Black was junior counsel in the Harmondsworth Riot case in Croydon, and has also acted in cases involving football violence.
Ravinder Khumra recently successfully represented a number of people accused of public disorder offences committed in the context of the Anti Cuts demonstrations.
Jim Skelsey has acted for those involved in public order related disturbances, football related violence and anti social behaviour throughout his career including when working in Liverpool in the eighties.
Richard Parry was involved in the public disorder that hit Tottenham in the eighties and is involved in Legal Defence and Monitoring Group.
Paul Butcher acted in the anti-BNP disorder in the early 90s, as well as recently acting for persons caught up in the recent Anti-Cuts protests.
We also deal with offences such as Burglary, Criminal Damage and Assault PC on a daily basis.
The starting point for any criminal case is to analyse the evidence being relied upon by the prosecution, assessing the strength of the case against you, and identifying any contradictions that may exist in witness statements and any CCTV evidence that covers the alleged offence.
Needless to say it helps to have experienced lawyers with specialisation in this area representing you.
Public Order offences are unusual in that words and behaviour can be sufficient to secure a conviction without any violence being involved as well as requiring interpretation as to whether you were acting as a part of a group or not.
Our team will ensure you are thoroughly advised in terms of the evidence and procedure, and prepare your case for trial or sentence as appropriate and apply for bail on your behalf between now and the end of your case.
· Anyone arrested is eligible for free legal advice
· Legal Aid for court proceedings is available for all public order offences except Disorderly Conduct, where it is only available in certain circumstances.
· Legal Aid is means tested, so if you are under 18, on JSA or Income Support you are automatically eligible for Legal Aid.
·If you earn under £22,000 you can apply but it may be means tested and in the crown court subject to a monthly contribution. If you are acquitted the contribution will be returned.
If you are not eligible for legal aid, you may fund your defence privately. We advise as to costs, either at an hourly rate or fixed fee on a case by case basis. We are happy to discuss funding with you. If you are found not guilty you are, in most cases, able to recoup your fees.