The reduced availability of public funding, via legal aid, to assist those charged with a criminal offence to obtain legal representation, is resulting in more people endeavouring to defend themselves.
As a result, guilty pleas are frequently being entered without any understanding of the potential consequences.
John Veale of Kangs Solicitors comments generally upon the dilemma being faced by those facing such a situation.
The Usual Reasons For Pleading | Kangs Criminal Defence Advisory Team
Proper consideration of the Prosecution evidence can only be undertaken by an experienced criminal defence lawyer acting on behalf of the accused person.
It should be remembered that anyone associated with the Prosecution will have an entirely different agenda and a very limited obligation to render any advice to an accused with a view to protecting that person’s best interests.
This situation frequently results in an inappropriate guilty plea being entered because:
- the accused may have been encouraged to believe that their situation is hopeless, that the case against them is ‘cut and dried’ when an experienced defence lawyer may well identify weakness/failings in the evidence produced,
- an early plea may have been encouraged upon the inducement of a reduced sentence but which totally ignores other opportunities that may be available, the accused may, at that point, through shock and confusion find that they cannot face the prospect of defending their position at a trial.
- the accused may believe that their matter will be dealt with quickly without considering the potential lifelong consequences which may follow,
- the accused may harbour the mistaken belief that it may be a simple formality to reverse their plea at a future date.
Reversing a Guilty Plea | Kangs Crime Procedure Solicitors
It has been recognised by the Court of Appeal that very few accused who enter a plea in the absence of receipt of any legal advice will have any legal knowledge.
Accordingly, the scope for an Application to the court seeking to set aside a guilty plea may be wider than generally appreciated.
The general principle is that the Court will only set aside a guilty plea if it can be shown that it is equivocal as set out in the case of P. Foster (Haulage) Ltd v Roberts  2 All ER 751.
- where a defendant pleaded guilty to handling but did not know the item in question was stolen.
- the mistaken belief by the defendant that a guilty plea would secure bail.
- the defendant was not advised of a legal defence that was available.
How Can We Help? | Kangs Criminal Defence Solicitors
It is essential that anyone accused of a criminal offence at any level and facing interview by any authority should seek advice from the onset, whether or not the availability of ongoing funding through the legal aid system is known at that stage.
If we can be of assistance, please do not hesitate to contact our team through any of the following: