Advice Centre

May

IMD has successfully achieved the reduction of a mandatory minimum sentence for a criminal law client

Criminal Law: Facts of the Case

IMD Solicitor’s Crime Department client was found in possession of a taser, an offence that carries a mandatory minimum 5 year sentence . This is something that comes as a surprise to many of our clients charged with a similar offence.

Under section 5(1A)(a) of the Firearms Act 1968 it is a criminal offence to possess ‘any firearm which is disguised as another object’. Those who are found in possession of a taser are usually charged under section 5(1)(b) which prohibits ‘any weapon of whatever description designed or adapted for the discharge of any noxious liquid, gas or other thing’.

The offence carries a mandatory minimum sentence of 5 years imprisonment and the early guilty plea will not warrant a reduction of the standard one third. Under section 51(A)(2) of the Firearms Act 1968 the judge has a discretion to reduce the sentence only if it can be shown that there are exceptional circumstances relating to the offence or the offender which justify not doing so, which is rare in practice.

The Court’s Decision

Our client turned to us for help after he was convicted and sentenced to 5 years imprisonment, meaning that his wedding plans would need to be placed on hold for a considerable amount of time. The Crown Court found that there were no exceptional circumstances in the case.

He was unaware of the implications of possessing  a teaser or in fact that is it a criminal offence. He found the item (a taser torch)  lying on a pavement and picked it up, he was seen by a shop security guard who called the police stating that our client was in possession of taser-type device which looked like a black torch.

IMD Solicitors Head of Crime Department, Ms Justyna Blazewicz who had  conduct of the case in turn instructed a leading criminal barrister. Having  carefully reviewed the case they decided strong grounds of appeal could be put  before the Court of Appeal in order to reduce the sentence. They were of the view that exceptional circumstances in fact did exist to reduce the sentence of 5 years imprisonment.

Ms Blazewicz filed the appeal to the Court of Appeal on the basis that the sentence was manifestly excessive and that it was wrong in principle to conclude that there were no exceptional circumstances. The Court granted the permission to appeal.

The Result of the Appeal

At the appeal hearing the Court granted  leave to appeal and it was decided in our client’s favour that the Crown Court Judge was wrong and that there were exceptional circumstances in this case. The sentence of 5 years was quashed and the Court of Appeal decided that a sentence of 2 years imprisonment was appropriate under the circumstances.

Our Client was delighted with the outcome of his case which meant that he could go  back to planning his wedding with his fiancé. 

Getting Help With Appealing a Conviction or Sentence

If you are thinking about the possibility of appealing a sentence or conviction and would like to discuss preparing a case before the Court of Appeal, please do not hesitate to contact our Crime Department on 0333 358 3062 or info@imd.co.uk.

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