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Is this normal?


Is this normal?

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lotsofquer
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Hi

I'm only at the start of my journey in that I've been charged but my court date has been moved due to Covid etc etc. Mags court is coming up soon (provided it doesn't move again).

Recently I was denied legal aid as the Legal Aid agency has taken my business earnings for the past 12 months (of which there are really only 4 months of earnings) in to consideration when calculating my eligibility for legal aid.  This has taken me over the threshold for legal aid. I don't know if they should be considering these or not - given that they are not my funds but belong to the business. If they are required to be considered then do they need to take in to account the fact that a good portion of these funds are yet to be paid to HMRC in various forms of tax so actually belong to the taxpayer and not me or my business at all?  Either way would bring me under the threshold for legal aid.

I did query this with my solicitor who got back to me today and advised that it's going to be 'cheaper to pay privately' (her words). Nothing to address whether the legal aid agency should be or should not be considering these funds.

The costs I've been given are £1000+vat for mags court and $1500+vat for each crown court hearing.  She mentioned that there should only be one hearing at crown court which surprised me as I was expecting to be sent away from crown court and a pre-sentence report ordered. I have sent her an email to query this and also query who I'm paying - the court or the solicitors firm (not that I mind which - just would like to know the process).

I guess the questions I have around this being normal are:
Is it normal to have a pre-sentence report or not?
On legal aid
   - should my business earnings be considered as part of the eligibility criteria for legal aid?
   - if they should then should that money owed (but not due) to HMRC be deducted before they take a figure for eligibility?
   - Are the figures I've been quoted actual court fees or are they solicitors fees and actually there may be additional court fees on top of those?

Thanks

Hola
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lotsofquer - 12 Aug 20 9:32 PM
Hi

I'm only at the start of my journey in that I've been charged but my court date has been moved due to Covid etc etc. Mags court is coming up soon (provided it doesn't move again).

Recently I was denied legal aid as the Legal Aid agency has taken my business earnings for the past 12 months (of which there are really only 4 months of earnings) in to consideration when calculating my eligibility for legal aid.  This has taken me over the threshold for legal aid. I don't know if they should be considering these or not - given that they are not my funds but belong to the business. If they are required to be considered then do they need to take in to account the fact that a good portion of these funds are yet to be paid to HMRC in various forms of tax so actually belong to the taxpayer and not me or my business at all?  Either way would bring me under the threshold for legal aid.

I did query this with my solicitor who got back to me today and advised that it's going to be 'cheaper to pay privately' (her words). Nothing to address whether the legal aid agency should be or should not be considering these funds.

The costs I've been given are £1000+vat for mags court and $1500+vat for each crown court hearing.  She mentioned that there should only be one hearing at crown court which surprised me as I was expecting to be sent away from crown court and a pre-sentence report ordered. I have sent her an email to query this and also query who I'm paying - the court or the solicitors firm (not that I mind which - just would like to know the process).

I guess the questions I have around this being normal are:
Is it normal to have a pre-sentence report or not?
On legal aid
   - should my business earnings be considered as part of the eligibility criteria for legal aid?
   - if they should then should that money owed (but not due) to HMRC be deducted before they take a figure for eligibility?
   - Are the figures I've been quoted actual court fees or are they solicitors fees and actually there may be additional court fees on top of those?

Thanks

Sorry to be blunt, but personally, having been through the process, I wouldn't be worried about who should pay what.  Go with your instinct and pay whatever you can, if you can, to avoid jail.  Long term IMO that pays off, so if you feel you have a good solicitor go with it
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lotsofquer - 12 Aug 20 9:32 PM
Hi

I'm only at the start of my journey in that I've been charged but my court date has been moved due to Covid etc etc. Mags court is coming up soon (provided it doesn't move again).

Recently I was denied legal aid as the Legal Aid agency has taken my business earnings for the past 12 months (of which there are really only 4 months of earnings) in to consideration when calculating my eligibility for legal aid.  This has taken me over the threshold for legal aid. I don't know if they should be considering these or not - given that they are not my funds but belong to the business. If they are required to be considered then do they need to take in to account the fact that a good portion of these funds are yet to be paid to HMRC in various forms of tax so actually belong to the taxpayer and not me or my business at all?  Either way would bring me under the threshold for legal aid.

I did query this with my solicitor who got back to me today and advised that it's going to be 'cheaper to pay privately' (her words). Nothing to address whether the legal aid agency should be or should not be considering these funds.

The costs I've been given are £1000+vat for mags court and $1500+vat for each crown court hearing.  She mentioned that there should only be one hearing at crown court which surprised me as I was expecting to be sent away from crown court and a pre-sentence report ordered. I have sent her an email to query this and also query who I'm paying - the court or the solicitors firm (not that I mind which - just would like to know the process).

I guess the questions I have around this being normal are:
Is it normal to have a pre-sentence report or not?
On legal aid
   - should my business earnings be considered as part of the eligibility criteria for legal aid?
   - if they should then should that money owed (but not due) to HMRC be deducted before they take a figure for eligibility?
   - Are the figures I've been quoted actual court fees or are they solicitors fees and actually there may be additional court fees on top of those?

Thanks

From my understanding, it is normal to have a pre-sentence report produced. This usually happens by Probation. In my case I was brought to Crown Court twice. First time was supposed to be my sentencing but due to probation "cocking up" as my barrister called it. Judge delayed my sentencing and asked for a report to be made before I can be sentenced. The report is basically just some background information about your past, difficulties, reason for offending ect. The woman I spoke to was not nice at all and was basically acting like a prosecutor, jury and judge all in one. She made it very clear that I should be facing a custodial sentence which I do not think she was suppose to be doing. Unfortunately to her but fortunately to me, she got into an accident and could not finalize the report so another meeting was made for someone else to produce the report. If you are going to be charged for each crown court hearing I would make sure this is done before your day in court. They probably delay these reports on purpose to 1, get media attention as soon as possible 2, to impose further costs up on you.

As for the costs of solicitors I can not really advise. I do feel the points you have raised make a lot of sense though.

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Pre-sentence reports are fairly normal and sometimes hugely important, my advice would be to cram in as much positive stuff about your life as possible because there's not room for much of that during sentencing...!
Obviously show you're remorseful, ACTUALLY remorseful because they will see through fake remorse. Talk about what you've done since you stopped offending. Lay it all out there.

The process is uncomfortable though, it is like judge and jury, the woman I had was stern and detailed but she was doing her job. Mine ended with her saying I'd probably get a community order. However, when I came out with a 9 month suspended sentence and a lengthy SHPO - I was in shock. I know the Crown is open to all sentencing but to go from 'probably community order' to hair's width away from being sent down, it was just unreal.

Anyway, you're lucky to get all this advice beforehand, I wish I knew all this back then. You seem convinced you're going away, but if you do, please do come back and tell us what happened when you get out. As all of our experiences matter.

=====
Fighting or Accepting - its difficult to know which is right and when.
AB2014
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Mr W - 12 Aug 20 11:56 PM
Pre-sentence reports are fairly normal and sometimes hugely important, my advice would be to cram in as much positive stuff about your life as possible because there's not room for much of that during sentencing...!
Obviously show you're remorseful, ACTUALLY remorseful because they will see through fake remorse. Talk about what you've done since you stopped offending. Lay it all out there.

The process is uncomfortable though, it is like judge and jury, the woman I had was stern and detailed but she was doing her job. Mine ended with her saying I'd probably get a community order. However, when I came out with a 9 month suspended sentence and a lengthy SHPO - I was in shock. I know the Crown is open to all sentencing but to go from 'probably community order' to hair's width away from being sent down, it was just unreal.

Anyway, you're lucky to get all this advice beforehand, I wish I knew all this back then. You seem convinced you're going away, but if you do, please do come back and tell us what happened when you get out. As all of our experiences matter.

It seems that some people are sentenced on the day, possibly for lesser offences, but many are adjourned for reports. I suspect that part of the motivation for probation to produce a damning pre-sentence report is to cover themselves, and part is to make it look like they've pulled off an amazing transformation against the odds and turned you into the decent person you already were but which they refused to acknowledge. You can disregard what they say about sentencing, as it's up to the judge. My judge adjourned for six weeks to allow reports to be prepared. The judge then ignored the report....

Another option for judges, which some seem keener on these days is the suspended sentence. Unfortunately, it really screws you up for disclosure, as it's treated as a prison sentence even if the custodial part is never activated.

=========================================================

As Chris Stacey said: Although its not formally part of the sentence that is handed down in court, the criminal record that someone comes away with effectively becomes a second sentence, which can have a long-lasting, if not lifelong, impact.

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lotsofquer - 12 Aug 20 9:32 PM
Hi

I'm only at the start of my journey in that I've been charged but my court date has been moved due to Covid etc etc. Mags court is coming up soon (provided it doesn't move again).

Recently I was denied legal aid as the Legal Aid agency has taken my business earnings for the past 12 months (of which there are really only 4 months of earnings) in to consideration when calculating my eligibility for legal aid.  This has taken me over the threshold for legal aid. I don't know if they should be considering these or not - given that they are not my funds but belong to the business. If they are required to be considered then do they need to take in to account the fact that a good portion of these funds are yet to be paid to HMRC in various forms of tax so actually belong to the taxpayer and not me or my business at all?  Either way would bring me under the threshold for legal aid.

I did query this with my solicitor who got back to me today and advised that it's going to be 'cheaper to pay privately' (her words). Nothing to address whether the legal aid agency should be or should not be considering these funds.

The costs I've been given are £1000+vat for mags court and $1500+vat for each crown court hearing.  She mentioned that there should only be one hearing at crown court which surprised me as I was expecting to be sent away from crown court and a pre-sentence report ordered. I have sent her an email to query this and also query who I'm paying - the court or the solicitors firm (not that I mind which - just would like to know the process).

I guess the questions I have around this being normal are:
Is it normal to have a pre-sentence report or not?
On legal aid
   - should my business earnings be considered as part of the eligibility criteria for legal aid?
   - if they should then should that money owed (but not due) to HMRC be deducted before they take a figure for eligibility?
   - Are the figures I've been quoted actual court fees or are they solicitors fees and actually there may be additional court fees on top of those?

Thanks

Hi

At the time I was "processed" I was an IT consultant and had a Ltd company. Yes it is correct the bank balances are taken as your assets and so any more over £30k is available to go towards your contributions.
That saying you can (unless rules have changed) can apply for Legal Aid. I did!

Forget about the HMRC as that is not there concern,. Think of it like a wife divorcing you, she doesn't care about your quality of life or bills etc as any defaults is someone else's responsibility to get the money from you.

Tip, if you get a big bill and they pass it onto an agency to collect the monies - forget the name - just talk to the agency and say you can afford only £20 a month. I was inside and did this and relieve pressure on me until my release where I continued paying the same amount - until I won my appeal against the costs attributed to me. 

In the experience I can quote it could be cheaper if it is a guilty plea from the start as the process may only be i.e maj Court, Plea hearing and sentencing but cut a deal if going for that. Remember you would be reducing their effort and time and would probably use a paralegal for most of the work so check who and what the invoice entails.
If you are concerned about your solicitor I can recommend the following person and no I do not get cashback or anything else lol. the link will show his history especially with image offences, SOPO etc.
http://www.andrewstorchsolicitors.com/our-people/michael-phillips/

I actually had two pre-sentence reports as the Prob Officer's manager felt the first one I signed was too lenient and so had to be amended for me to sign again. Depending on your finances I would suggest getting an independent psychological report done, talk to Mike Phillips as this could support you. Also write a letter to the Judge, not challenging the evidence but more on your regret, effects and how you will reform and ask for leniency. If nothing else it will show you have started your rehabilitation 

Learn from yesterday, live for today, hope is for tomorrow else what is left if you remove a mans hope.
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lotsofquer - 12 Aug 20 9:32 PM
Hi

I'm only at the start of my journey in that I've been charged but my court date has been moved due to Covid etc etc. Mags court is coming up soon (provided it doesn't move again).

Recently I was denied legal aid as the Legal Aid agency has taken my business earnings for the past 12 months (of which there are really only 4 months of earnings) in to consideration when calculating my eligibility for legal aid.  This has taken me over the threshold for legal aid. I don't know if they should be considering these or not - given that they are not my funds but belong to the business. If they are required to be considered then do they need to take in to account the fact that a good portion of these funds are yet to be paid to HMRC in various forms of tax so actually belong to the taxpayer and not me or my business at all?  Either way would bring me under the threshold for legal aid.

I did query this with my solicitor who got back to me today and advised that it's going to be 'cheaper to pay privately' (her words). Nothing to address whether the legal aid agency should be or should not be considering these funds.

The costs I've been given are £1000+vat for mags court and $1500+vat for each crown court hearing.  She mentioned that there should only be one hearing at crown court which surprised me as I was expecting to be sent away from crown court and a pre-sentence report ordered. I have sent her an email to query this and also query who I'm paying - the court or the solicitors firm (not that I mind which - just would like to know the process).

I guess the questions I have around this being normal are:
Is it normal to have a pre-sentence report or not?
On legal aid
   - should my business earnings be considered as part of the eligibility criteria for legal aid?
   - if they should then should that money owed (but not due) to HMRC be deducted before they take a figure for eligibility?
   - Are the figures I've been quoted actual court fees or are they solicitors fees and actually there may be additional court fees on top of those?

Thanks

Hi, I was also denied legal aid, yes they'll take into account earnings. You should have had a means tested form to complete...?
The figures for a solictor and court fee vary. I had one QC that cost around 1500, and another one that cost around 8000
The presentence report is vital, the judge will normally go off the sentence recommended by the probation officer. I'll dig out a template and post it
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lotsofquer
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jcdmcr - 13 Aug 20 12:20 PM
lotsofquer - 12 Aug 20 9:32 PM
Hi

I'm only at the start of my journey in that I've been charged but my court date has been moved due to Covid etc etc. Mags court is coming up soon (provided it doesn't move again).

Recently I was denied legal aid as the Legal Aid agency has taken my business earnings for the past 12 months (of which there are really only 4 months of earnings) in to consideration when calculating my eligibility for legal aid.  This has taken me over the threshold for legal aid. I don't know if they should be considering these or not - given that they are not my funds but belong to the business. If they are required to be considered then do they need to take in to account the fact that a good portion of these funds are yet to be paid to HMRC in various forms of tax so actually belong to the taxpayer and not me or my business at all?  Either way would bring me under the threshold for legal aid.

I did query this with my solicitor who got back to me today and advised that it's going to be 'cheaper to pay privately' (her words). Nothing to address whether the legal aid agency should be or should not be considering these funds.

The costs I've been given are £1000+vat for mags court and $1500+vat for each crown court hearing.  She mentioned that there should only be one hearing at crown court which surprised me as I was expecting to be sent away from crown court and a pre-sentence report ordered. I have sent her an email to query this and also query who I'm paying - the court or the solicitors firm (not that I mind which - just would like to know the process).

I guess the questions I have around this being normal are:
Is it normal to have a pre-sentence report or not?
On legal aid
   - should my business earnings be considered as part of the eligibility criteria for legal aid?
   - if they should then should that money owed (but not due) to HMRC be deducted before they take a figure for eligibility?
   - Are the figures I've been quoted actual court fees or are they solicitors fees and actually there may be additional court fees on top of those?

Thanks

Hi, I was also denied legal aid, yes they'll take into account earnings. You should have had a means tested form to complete...?
The figures for a solictor and court fee vary. I had one QC that cost around 1500, and another one that cost around 8000
The presentence report is vital, the judge will normally go off the sentence recommended by the probation officer. I'll dig out a template and post it

Thanks.  I didn't actually complete the form - someone at my solicitors office did. I was just asked for a load of information - mostly bank statements
It wasn't the cost I was too worried about it was actually just a question if those were the solicitor fees or court fees or court fees. It sounds like it's the solicitors fees from what everyone has said on here.  I'm presuming there may be other fees to pay directly to the court as well? I been quoted anywhere from 8-25k for solicitors who only deal in sexual offences (and don't do legal aid). I went with my current ones soon after I was arrested just because they did legal aid and from their website they seemed to have people who specialise in sexual offences (although not a dedicated sexual offences firm). Looking at it now they're probably just a regular firm that does a bit of everything.

@Mr W
Anyway, you're lucky to get all this advice beforehand, I wish I knew all this back then. You seem convinced you're going away, but if you do, please do come back and tell us what happened when you get out. As all of our experiences matter.

Agreed and I'm grateful for it. I have no issues sharing my experiences coming out the other side so others know what to expect. This being my first brush with the law it's a horrible and terrifying experience not made any easier by my solicitor not really answering all of the questions I have about the process etc so I've just had to work it out for myself as best I can - mostly based on what others have posted on here. The information on here is invaluable.

@JASB
In the experience I can quote it could be cheaper if it is a guilty plea

It will be a guilty plea.

I would suggest getting an independent psychological report done

I have asked my solicitor about this. I need to follow up.

Also write a letter to the Judge

Something I've thought about but haven't started writing. I presume this is only for Crown court rather than mags as well?

Mr W
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AB2014 - 13 Aug 20 11:17 AM
Mr W - 12 Aug 20 11:56 PM
Pre-sentence reports are fairly normal and sometimes hugely important, my advice would be to cram in as much positive stuff about your life as possible because there's not room for much of that during sentencing...!
Obviously show you're remorseful, ACTUALLY remorseful because they will see through fake remorse. Talk about what you've done since you stopped offending. Lay it all out there.

The process is uncomfortable though, it is like judge and jury, the woman I had was stern and detailed but she was doing her job. Mine ended with her saying I'd probably get a community order. However, when I came out with a 9 month suspended sentence and a lengthy SHPO - I was in shock. I know the Crown is open to all sentencing but to go from 'probably community order' to hair's width away from being sent down, it was just unreal.

Anyway, you're lucky to get all this advice beforehand, I wish I knew all this back then. You seem convinced you're going away, but if you do, please do come back and tell us what happened when you get out. As all of our experiences matter.

It seems that some people are sentenced on the day, possibly for lesser offences, but many are adjourned for reports. I suspect that part of the motivation for probation to produce a damning pre-sentence report is to cover themselves, and part is to make it look like they've pulled off an amazing transformation against the odds and turned you into the decent person you already were but which they refused to acknowledge. You can disregard what they say about sentencing, as it's up to the judge. My judge adjourned for six weeks to allow reports to be prepared. The judge then ignored the report....

Another option for judges, which some seem keener on these days is the suspended sentence. Unfortunately, it really screws you up for disclosure, as it's treated as a prison sentence even if the custodial part is never activated.

Good to see you back AB2014. And yes, not only messus up disclosure but even though my custodial part was never activated, and because Australia doesn't recognise concurrent sentences, I'm banned from Australia by a matter of two suspended months which were never activated. Absolutely gutted as I've never been. I can't tell you how much I despise my judge because of what she did on sentencing day.

=====
Fighting or Accepting - its difficult to know which is right and when.
GO


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