How long can I be in police custody?
A suspect can generally be held for no longer than 24 hours in police custody prior to charge. The police should ensure that all detainees are processed as quickly as possible. Where it is deemed appropriate by an officer of at least a superintendent's rank, this period can be extended to a total of 36 hours. Whilst further extensions prior to charge can be allowed up to a maximum period of 96 hours, this has to be authorised by the court.
What is bail?
Where the police arrest a suspect, but wish to release him or her whilst the case continues, they can release him/her on bail. This can be before charge, whilst further enquiries are made, or after charge. If charged, the police must decide whether bail to a court date is appropriate. If not, the police must place the defendant before the first available court where the magistrates must decide whether to grant bail or remand in custody. Bail can be with or without conditions. Conditions can include residing at a fixed address, keeping away from witnesses and defined locations or regularly reporting to a local police station. Breaching conditions, re-offending, interfering with witnesses or failing to answer bail can result in a remand in custody until the case concludes.
What is ABH?
ABH stands for Actual Bodily Harm which reflects the injuries which are sustained as a result of this level of assault. Whilst relatively minor injuries could be classed as ABH, current charging guidance suggests that such injuries would be charged as the lesser offence of Common Assault. ABH will be charged if the injuries are deemed serious. In practice, this may be the case if injuries require a number of stitches or a hospital procedure under anaesthetic. The maximum prison sentence for an assault resulting in ABH is five years.
What is GBH?
GBH stands for Grievous Bodily Harm which reflects the injuries which are sustained as a result of this level of assault. It reflects really serious injuries such as those resulting in permanent disability or broken limbs. The maximum prison sentence for an assault resulting in GBH is five years. If, however, the GBH is caused intentionally, a maximum sentence of life imprisonment applies.
Will I go to prison if I have hit someone?
Assaults can be dealt with in a number of ways and are categorised as follows, in ascending order of seriousness:
• Common Assault
• Assault resulting in Actual Bodily Harm (ABH)
• Assault resulting in Grievous Bodily Harm or Wounding (GBH)
• Assault resulting in Grievous Bodily Harm or Wounding with intent to do so
Whilst the court can impose a prison sentence for all such offences, the likelihood and length will depend on the level of charge and any aggravating features such as:
• Previous convictions, particularly for similar offences
• Vulnerable victim e.g. elderly or infirm
• Group attack
• Weapon used
Will I go to prison for murder?
Yes, if you are convicted. Murder carries a mandatory sentence of life imprisonment.
Will I go to prison for theft?
Theft can be dealt with in a number of ways. The penalty imposed at court, if you plead guilty or are convicted, will depend upon numerous factors. A prison sentence is more likely if there are aggravating features such as:
• Property of high value taken
• Previous convictions, particularly if these are for similar offences
• Vulnerable victim e.g. the elderly or infirm
• Breach of trust e.g. theft from your employer
• Hallmarks of a professional thief
If the court decides that a custodial sentence is appropriate, they have the power to suspend the sentence if they feel it is just to do so. This means that the sentencewould not have to be served if you keep out of trouble for a fixed period of time and comply with any requirements (e.g. unpaid work; curfew) imposed.
The police have taken my phone and computer and I don't know why?
The police will often seize such electronic equipment to examine its contents as potential evidence to assist with their enquiries. Please make immediate contact with a member of our team to advise whether the seizure is lawful.
I believe I am innocent, how can I prove it?
As highly experienced defence lawyers, we are committed to ensuring that justice is done. If you face criminal charges, please make immediate contact with a member of our team. We will be able to obtain details of the evidence against you, advise you on the law and procedure, fully prepare your defence and present your case at court.
Do I need a solicitor if I have been arrested?
You should always ask for a solicitor upon arrest. You will be generally entitled to free and independent legal advice from Smith Partnership, your solicitors of choice. Sometimes, suspects are led to believe that free advice is only available from the ‘duty solicitor’ - this is not the case and the same free service is available from your own lawyer.
We will be able to obtain details of the allegation from the police and advise you in private prior to any interview taking place. Never agree to be interviewed in our absence to ‘get it over with’ or ‘because you have nothing to hide’ as the extent of the allegation will not always be transparent. We will be present to ensure that the questioning is conducted properly. Our assistance can often accelerate your release. We provide 24-hour personal cover, 365 days a year.