Chris Saltrese Solicitors have provided a specialised service in defending contested allegations of sexual offences for 18 years. This is because it is one of the most emotive and misunderstood areas of law where there is the potential for unfair trial and widespread injustice.
Since the Jimmy Savile allegations in 2012, this tendency has accelerated. As more complainants come forward, the pressure is greater on the police and Crown Prosecution Service to bring cases to trial no matter how insubstantial.
Many cases are historical, and depend only on the oral testimony of the complainant. Multiple allegations also proliferate, but may not be truly independent, rather they may be linked directly or indirectly to one or more complainants.
Other cases concern illegal images found on computers. While at first glance these may seem definitive, the fact is many images can be downloaded on computers without the knowledge or intention of the user.
Many of our clients have no previous experience of the criminal justice system and are shocked by the ease with which flimsy allegations are prosecuted. As law-abiding citizens they placed their trust in British justice to exercise good judgement and may have assumed previously that false allegations were rare.
At Chris Saltrese Solicitors we provide a tailormade service for clients facing the daunting prospect of contesting allegations. Careful preparation and attention to detail is key. We press for disclosure of background evidence making sense of why the allegations may be made. Where relevant, we commission expert opinion. Close client liaison and case conferences with counsel throughout the pre-trial period ensure that all relevant aspects are covered prior to trial with a positive defence strategy prepared.
On the website we provide a guide to the numerous types of allegations and the pitfalls. Anonymised thumbnail case histories and links also provide further information.
Our specialist consultants include:
Margaret Jervis, who has researched and analysed contested sexual allegations for over twenty years in a legal and social framework.
Oliver Cyriax, a leading family law reformer and adviser, who leads expertise in computer-image cases. Oliver is a member of the Inside Justice http://www.insidejusticeuk.com/ expert advisory panel representing Chris Saltrese Solicitors.
Shahida Begum, Solicitor, based in Telford, offers an in-depth, personally tailored defence service on a privately funded basis and where possible, in high cost and complex cases, on legal aid. An Urdu/Punjabi speaking service is available where indicated.
Chris Saltrese Solicitors hold a Legal Aid Agency General Criminal Contract.
We regret we are no longer able to represent clients at trial on legal aid, other than in very exceptional circumstances. This is because changes in legal aid preclude the necessary detailed work with background evidence that we think is necessary for a robust defence. Legal aid fees are calculated on the basis of the prosecution case which may comprise only a small percentage of the material to be examined in sexual offence cases.
This means clients have no control over what work is done in defending their case.
However funding through legal aid, though it will be the only option for many, is means-tested and capped. Defendants may be required to contribute a substantial proportion of their household disposable income prior to trial without the assurance of thorough preparation covering all angles. Others may be denied legal aid because their income exceeds the cap.
Until 2012, privately represented defendants could expect their legal costs to be refunded on acquittal at Crown Court. Controversially the Government withdrew this option though it promised to review the situation in time. As of now the same situation prevails. However, in some circumstances a proportion of costs may be refunded if the disposable income exceeds the legal aid cap. In order to be eligible for this it is necessary to apply for legal aid and be refused.
Privately funded legal representation offers the following benefits:
- A first class defence tailored to your needs
- Client control over case preparation
- Liaison with senior trial counsel throughout the preparation and trial
- Preparation and strategy consultation with clients throughout
In order to ease the burden and worry of funding, we can offer a flat fee representation package covering the preparation and trial process. If you wish to discuss this option please telephone us on 01704 535512.