As a full service law firm, Morton Fraser recognise that often clients are faced with requiring advice on criminal law matters and any dealings with the police.
Sometimes this can arise as a result of complex legislation in certain areas resulting in some offences often being committed unwittingly. Businesses can fall foul of road traffic legislation, or are in need advice regarding police interviews, arrests or cautions, fraud investigations and search warrants. In these circumstances, it is crucial to obtain clear, accurate and expert legal advice at the earliest possible stage. Clients not often coming into contact with criminal law may be unaware of their rights and obligations and it is important to be advised in this area in order to protect your position and that of your company or partnership.
Road traffic offences can affect both your business and you as an individual. Employers can face difficulties in overloading and weight restrictions of vehicles, causing and permitting employees who commit road traffic offences, and of course speeding and potential disqualification from driving. It is important to be advised as to what procedures have to be followed in relation to these offences and what penalties and consequences you might expect.
It is possible to challenge disqualification under the totting up procedure. If you accumulate 12 or more points on your licence within a period of 3 years, you will automatically be disqualified from driving for a period of at least six months. It is possible to reduce the length of disqualification or even get rid of it altogether if there are mitigating circumstances. It is possible to have a hearing before the court demonstrating that any disqualification would also cause hardship to others, for example, work colleagues or employees.
For other offences, you should be aware that the police must inform an individual of what they are being arrested on suspicion of, and also issue a caution. Most people will have heard of the terms of the caution - advising that you don't have to say anything, but it could harm your defence if you do not mention when questioned something which you later rely on court - anything you do say, may be given in evidence.
This caution is extremely important because it gives the police the ability to question a suspect in order to obtain evidence and it also provides any suspect with the right not to answer questions. You do not have to respond to the caution, but any answers will be recorded by the police officer and will form part of the evidence used in any subsequent prosecution.
Usually, an arrested person will be taken to a police station for an interview under caution, but on occasion you can also be invited to attend voluntarily. The police should advise any individual about their rights. You should be given the chance to consult a solicitor at that point. There have been many recent developments in this area of law and you should take the opportunity of getting legal advice as soon as possible and availing yourself of this opportunity. This advice also could be essential in an area in which clients increasingly require to be informed about - possible fraud investigations and search warrants. It is important to see the warrant and take time to read it and note the details and any premises, or other information, it specifies.
Sometimes, if the correct process is not followed, or the information or details are incorrect, any evidence obtained could be inadmissible at a later stage. Once again, it is very important to obtain appropriate legal advice as soon as possible.