Category Archives: Criminal Law

Sexual Offences

Sexual offences are, understandably, a particularly sensitive and complex area of law. Allegations of sexual misconduct can be difficult to defend because of the public attention they attract. The nature of the crimes also means that it is often the complainant’s word against the defendant’s. Further, the impact of an allegation of a sexual offence can be devastating for all those involved and their families. As such, it’s important to contact solicitors who are experienced in defending such claims.

If you would like some further advice in this area please call or email us to book an initial consultation.

 

Cybercrime & Online Offences

 

The law surrounding the use of technology and conducting criminal activity has undergone a great deal of development in previous years and is developing into a sophisticated body of rules and regulations. It is broadly reflective of the new and innovative ways that computers are being used to commit crimes that, historically, would have been more difficult to commit.

Here we provide an overview of what cybercrime in the UK is: what it means to commit cybercrime, how it is regulated and what the current state of the law is.

What is cybercrime?

Cybercrime is deemed to be any kind of criminal activity that can be committed through the use of a computer. As a result, there are lots of different kinds of cybercrime, including fraud, hacking, harassment, espionage and sexual offences.

How is cybercrime regulated in the UK?

Cybercrime is not limited by borders and regularly involves international agencies. In the UK, the main regulator of cybercrime is the National Cyber Crime Unit of the National Crime Agency. It is the role of this government agency to police, investigate and prosecute instances of cybercrime that occur in the UK.

What is the law regarding cybercrime?

In terms of any law regarding cybercrime, the most important piece of legislation is the Misuse of Computers Act 1990. This introduced a number of new offences:

1. Unauthorised access to computer material

This is the lowest level offence under the Act and one that many people who would not normally consider their actions to be criminal in nature, fall foul of.

If you have ever accessed someone else’s computer system, either by accident or intentionally, you will technically have committed this offence. It is not necessary for you to have altered someone else’s information, e.g. deleted their files. The fact of the matter is that you accessed someone else’s computer without their permission, thereby committing the offence.

2. Unauthorised access with intent to commit or facilitate a crime

This is the next level offence under the Misuse of Computers Act 1990. The distinctive feature of this offence is that you must have accessed someone else’s computer on purpose in order to commit a crime.

This kind of crime would include instances where someone hacks into a bank account with a view to committing fraud. Alternatively, it would likely cover an individual gaining access to confidential information regarding a company and its business relationships with suppliers.

3. Unauthorised modification of computer material

Deleting information with the express purpose of causing damage to someone, either an organisation or an individual, attract criminal liability.

This offence is designed to cover instances where someone knowingly unleashes a virus onto someone else’s computer, damaging or corrupting the information that it comes into contact with.

4. Making, supplying or obtaining information which can be used in computer misuse offences

This offence is quite broad and means that anyone that is caught in any stage of the process of aiding in the commission of cybercrime will be liable as having committed an offence.

This offence is designed to catch individuals or organisations that are involved in the creation or collation of dangerous programmes i.e. viruses (spyware etc.) that are to be released onto a computer or computer network.

What kind of penalties are there for Cybercrimes?

The penalties for engaging in cybercrime vary, depending on their severity. The lowest offence under the Misuse of the Computers Act carries a penalty of a maximum of six months imprisonment alongside the imposition of a fine. All other offences can attract up to five years imprisonment and a significant, or in some circumstances, unlimited fine.

Are there any other areas to be aware of?

Technology has created a variety of opportunities for individuals to engage in criminal conduct. As a result, there are a number of pieces of legislation that have been created to cover specific instances of criminal activity. One kind of cybercrime where there has been increased regulation of technology is in relation to pornographic images.

Accessing pornographic or indecent images online

Accessing indecent images online is a very delicate area of criminal law, and as a result, is dealt with under a completely different pieces of legislation, including the Criminal Justice and Immigration Act 2008, the Protection of Children Act 1978, the Criminal Justice Act 1988, the Coroners and Justice Act 2009 and, in more serious cases, the Sexual Offences Act 2003.

Under the 2008 Act, it is illegal to be in possession of any material – photographs, films and particularly computer data on a hard drive –that is of an extreme pornographic nature. Individuals are also increasingly being targeted by criminal law agencies for accessing child abuse images online. Offences include: making, distributing, showing or advertising any indecent photo of a child under the Protection of Children Act 1978; possessing an indecent photo of a child under the Criminal Justice Act 1988; and, possessing a prohibited image, such as drawings or cartoons, of a child under the Coroners and Justice Act 2009.

While it may not be considered to be part of traditional computer crime, the possession of extreme pornographic imagery or indecent images is very much a major feature of anti-cybercrime legislation and is taken very seriously by regulatory authorities and the police. If you have been, or believe you may be, investigated by the police in relation to accessing illegal images online it is vital you get legal advice as soon as possible.

Cybercrime Legal Advice & Criminal Defence

Cybercrime law is arguably the most progressive and most complex area of the law to understand. Owing to the rapid development of technology, this area of the law is under constant review and changes regularly. It is incredibly important that if you are affected by cybercrime in any way, you seek the advice of specialist lawyers who have experience of dealing with the rules and regulations in the field.

Here at HS Legal Solicitors, we have a dedicated team of expert cybercrime lawyers. We have many years of experience in advising clients who have become involved in cybercrime investigations and are regularly instructed to represent. We will work in partnership with you to ensure that you are advised on how you may be affected by the law in this field, and answer any questions that you may have. Please contact us, we are here to help.

Motoring Offences Solicitors – Road Traffic Defence Lawyers

Careless & Dangerous Driving

The Courts are taking careless and dangerous driving offences much more seriously than in the past. While the threshold for careless driving is lower than dangerous driving, any careless or dangerous driving charges can result in licence penalty points, disqualification and other penalties. It is best to consult an experienced solicitor at the earliest possible stage.

Careless Driving Offence

Careless driving is defined as driving below the standard expected of a competent and careful driver. Careless driving charges are often broken into two forms: driving without due care and attention and driving without reasonable consideration for other road users.

Dangerous Driving Offences

No matter what degree of motoring offence you are facing, when you hire HS Legal Solicitors, we devote all of our knowledge and experience to protecting your rights and working to minimise the consequences.

If you are charged with dangerous driving, you are accused of driving well below the standard that would be expected of a competent driver. Our highly experienced solicitors handle cases for clients charged with dangerous driving because of dangerous overtaking, speeding, racing or driving competitively, aggressive driving, and other reasons. Additionally, we have expertise in death by dangerous driving claims.

When charged with a driving offence in London, it is important to seek legal advice at the earliest possible stage in order to avoid penalty points and the loss of your licence.

Contact our Specialist Careless & Dangerous Driving Solicitors

For further information or to speak to one of our top careless and dangerous driving solicitors please telephone us on 01206500181.

Death by Dangerous Driving

As an established firm serving England for nearly 9 years, our solicitors are equipped to handle even the most challenging cases, including death by dangerous driving claims. Death by dangerous driving is an extremely serious charge that can result in a lengthy prison sentence. We understand what is at stake in these cases, and we take each outcome seriously.

Dangerous Driving Offence

Our team will carefully examine the prosecution’s case, police reports and any other available evidence to build your defence. We may also work with leading barristers and experts as required to best serve your needs. Our lawyers often defend clients who believe they have been wrongfully accused or overcharged. We will work to minimise all possible penalties through the most effective defence for your particular case.

A death by dangerous driving charge may involve driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs, sleep deprivation, distracted driving, tachometer offences or other contributing factors. No matter what the circumstances, we will vigorously protect your rights and defend your side.

Contact our Death by Dangerous Driving Lawyers in Essex

If you or a loved one has been charged with death by dangerous driving, it is essential that you consult an experienced defence solicitor at the earliest possible stage to avoid maximum penalties. For further information or to submit a query, please contact us online.

Driving Under the Influence of Alcohol or Drugs

f you are arrested for driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs, it is important that your rights are protected from the very beginning. With serious consequences on the line, including disqualification of your driver’s licence and a criminal conviction, it is best to consult an experienced solicitor as soon as possible. A drink driving conviction may also impact your current job and your ability to gain employment in the future.

 Drink Driving Solicitors

At HS Legal solicitors, our motoring law solicitors have expertise in drink driving cases. We understand that a ban on your driving privileges and points on your licence can severely disrupt your professional and personal life. Our goal in these cases is to have your charge reduced or dismissed.

When arrested for driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs, you will immediately lose your driver’s licence. Depending on your driving history, how high your blood alcohol content was at the time of the arrest and other factors, you may be facing a variety of penalties.

Our motoring offence solicitors have wide experience successfully defending these cases. We are deeply familiar with all possible defences, and we will vigorously work to identify and pursue the best option to resolve your case successfully. We may be able to minimise the consequences of your drink driving charge by negotiating your participation in driver rehabilitation courses or community orders.

Driving Whilst Disqualified

There are many ways you can lose your licence; speeding, drink driving and other charges commonly result in a driving ban. Whether you need to drive to and from work or drive your child to an activity, your ability to drive is essential.

Driving Whilst Disqualified

For some people, driving whilst disqualified is a necessary risk. However, a driving whilst disqualified charge can result in six penalty points, substantial fines, further disqualification and even time in prison depending on your driving history.

Often, young people who have been convicted of drink driving and lost their licenses are charged with driving whilst disqualified. In these cases, increased penalties and licence points are difficult to avoid. Only an experienced motoring solicitor can identify the best defence and work to minimise the consequences. Road Traffic Offence Solicitors

At HS Legal Solicitors, our motoring offences specialist department employs highly qualified and experienced solicitors. We have expertise in the variously specialised defences for driving whilst disqualified, and our team can skillfully handle cases in all areas of road traffic law.

It is essential that you consult a defence lawyer at the earliest possible stage to avoid maximum penalties following a motoring offence. For further information or to submit a query, please contact us online or call 01206500181

Driving With a Foreign Licence

Because a UK driver’s licence requirements differ from those in other countries, English courts are not able to apply UK laws to foreign drivers. If you hold a foreign licence and are charged with a motoring offence, our solicitors can effectively defend you.

HS Legal Solicitors is an established, pedigreed firm serving England for nearly thirty years, and our motoring offences specialist department is highly experienced in representing EU citizens and other foreign licence holders.

Whether you are a student studying in England, you recently immigrated to the UK or you were visiting on holiday, we understand that a motoring offence can be very inconvenient and costly. It may also affect your ability to drive in the UK and to eventually exchange your foreign licence for a UK driving licence.

Motoring Offence Solicitors

If you do not speak English, our solicitors offer a range of foreign language services. HS Legal Solicitors is a modern practice. We offer various payment options. For further information or to submit a query, please contact us online or call 01206500181

Driving Without Insurance or a Driver’s Licence

If you are caught driving without insurance or a driver’s licence, it is important to consult an experienced motoring offence solicitor as soon as possible to protect your rights and work to avoid maximum penalties. You may be facing serious consequences, including disqualification of your driver’s licence and a substantial fine.

Driving Without Insurance or a Licence

The police can immediately identify uninsured drivers by their license plates. A financial penalty will always apply in instances of driving without insurance, with the amount dependent on the driver’s means and the circumstances of the offence. If convicted of driving uninsured, you may also face up to 12 months disqualification of your licence. Driving without insurance often involves:

  • Lapsed insurance
  • Company vehicle
  • The car is driven by someone other than the owner

In cases of driving without a licence, you may receive up to six penalty points on your licence, a fine of up to £1,000 and a driving ban.

If you are a learner driver with a provisional licence, you are required to display “L” plates on your vehicle and be accompanied by a person who is at least 21 years old and who has held a full driving licence for at least three years. If you drive without meeting those conditions, you can be charged with driving without a licence.

 Motoring Offence Solicitors

At HS Legal Solicitors, our lawyers are prepared to take on even the most challenging motoring offences. No matter the circumstances of your charge, we will work to minimise all possible penalties through the most effective defence for your particular case. There are several special reasons that one might be driving without insurance or a licence, which we may be able to use in your defence.

Speeding Offences

Whether you were travelling just a few miles per hour over the speed limit or you were going well over the limit, our expert motoring offence solicitors are prepared to advise you.

At HS Legal Solicitors, our motoring offences specialist department is highly experienced in dealing with all road traffic offences, including speeding offences.

Driving Offences and Penalty Points

The penalties for speeding can vary according to your driving history and how fast you were allegedly driving. If you already have points on your licence, you may be facing disqualification with additional points for speeding. If you were going 100 miles per hour or more, the penalties are more severe and may include significant fines and a driving ban.

Our solicitors are deeply familiar with the strategies the prosecution may use to prove you were speeding, as well as the appropriate defences.

Police in the UK uses many different types of measurement devices to catch speeding drivers such as speed cameras, laser and radar guns and other devices. There are strict rules for calibrating these devices, as well as regulations for operating them. To build your defence, our lawyers may work with experts to investigate the source of your speeding charge and determine if the device used in your case was properly calibrated and administered.

Contact our speeding offence solicitors

When charged with a driving offence in the UK, it is important to seek legal advice at the earliest possible stage in order to avoid penalty points and the loss of your licence. Contact our speeding offence solicitors at HS Legal Solicitors. For more information or to submit a query about your offence.

Criminal Defence

When facing an allegation of criminal conduct or behaviour, it is essential to get clear and transparent legal advice from experienced criminal defence lawyers who will protect your rights.

What is the criminal defence?

A criminal defence is a strategic argument that attempts to challenge the validity and sufficiency of the prosecution’s evidence. The prosecution is the party trying to prove the criminal charges against you.

Who is a criminal defence lawyer?

A criminal defence lawyer fulfils many important roles during the course of a criminal case. A criminal defence lawyer is responsible for defending a person who is charged with a crime. A criminal defence lawyer speaks on the client’s behalf.

What does a criminal defence lawyer do?

An experienced criminal defence lawyer will help you in many ways:

  • Evaluate your charges & evidence
  • Stop charges before they are even filed
  • Recommend a defence strategy
  • Work with the D.A. to negotiate a “plea bargain”
  • Assist you with the emotional aspects of trials
  • Give you objective insight into how the process works
  • Educate you on the laws & legal rules that apply to your case
  • Represent your case in the court where your case is heard
  • Understand how “prosecutorial discretion” affects your case
  • Compile evidence & witness statements important to the case
  • Identify and hire private investigators
  • Identify and hire key expert witnesses
  • Advise and negotiate the best sentencing or alternative sentencing options
  • Identify & explain any hidden consequences of a guilty plea

Contact Expert Criminal Defence lawyer

At HS Legal Solicitors, our team provides expert legal advice and representation for both individuals and businesses.

Our expert defence lawyers are able to provide immediate specialist legal advice and representation at every stage of the criminal process, from attendance at police stations to representation in court proceedings. For more legal assistance contact our solicitors on 01206 500181.

Corporate Crime Defence

Anti-Money Laundering Compliance & Investigations

Money laundering in the UK is treated extremely seriously. The consequences of failing to report suspected money laundering activity can be severe for individuals and businesses alike. If you need advice or representation in connection with any aspect of UK money laundering law contact us now.

Money Laundering Advice Lawyer

This is a fast moving, complex, rapidly expanding area of law which affects individuals, professionals and businesses alike. It can involve prosecuting authorities as varied as the Department of Work and Pensions and HM Revenue & Customs.

UK Money Laundering Regulations

Even the most experienced, prudent professional or businessperson can unwittingly become a conduit for money laundering. The provisions of the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002 and the Serious Organised Crime and Police Act 2005 have extended these situations, and HMRC anti-money laundering requirements which, if not met, can result in penalties and prosecution. This is very important, as it can affect your liberty (if a criminal prosecution follows), your professional/business reputation, and your financial situation.

Our team of experts can advise you on your existing anti-money laundering systems, can help you and your company set up systems with the latest cutting edge advice, and can ensure that you avoid non-compliance penalties and prosecution.

Contact our Specialist Anti-Money Laundering Solicitors

For further information or to speak to one of our solicitors please telephone us on 01206500181, complete our online enquiry form.

Bribery & Corruption Compliance & Investigations

The Bribery Act 2010 has been in force since 1 July 2011. This Act puts the UK at the forefront of anti-corruption legislation and imposes severe penalties including unlimited fines, up to ten years in prison, and a mandatory ban from tendering for public work in the EU.

Here we provide an overview of the law relating to bribery, the main bribery offences including the strict liability offence to prevent corruption, and the principles that can help companies to assess whether they have established adequate anti-corruption procedures.

Our bribery and corruption law specialists have vast experience in this area, working closely with companies to ensure they comply with the law, as well as providing representation for both organisations or executives  facing an investigation into allegations of corrupt practices or wanting to self-report an incident to the Serious Fraud Office (SFO).

The Bribery Act 2010

The Bribery Act 2010 was introduced to modernise and update the criminal law on offering or receiving bribes. It is a particularly stringent piece of legislation that introduced a new strict liability offence specific to companies and other commercial organisations of failing to prevent bribery. This places a burden on companies to prove that they have adequate anti-bribery procedures and policies in place if they are to avoid prosecution and hefty penalties.

The Act is also very wide reaching. Any person, whether or not they are a national, can be prosecuted if any act or omission that forms part of a bribery offence takes place in the UK or they have a close connection with the UK.

It also applies to any business or commercial organisation, no matter its size – and the company does not have to be incorporated in the UK. If it carries on a business or part of a business in the UK, it falls within the scope of the Act.

What is Bribery?

Bribery is described as the giving of a financial or other advantage in connection with the improper performance of a relevant function or activity. Bribery is not limited to cash payments, it can also include material gifts or favourable treatment.

The relevant functions or activities that the bribery offences apply to is widely defined. Almost any situation connected to the public, business and professional sectors is covered, whether or not it is carried out in the UK, provided that it meets one or more of the following conditions:

  • the function or activity is expected to be performed in good faith;
  • the function or activity is expected to be performed impartially;
  • the person performing the function or activity is in a position of trust by virtue of performing it.

Bribery Offences

The Bribery Act sets out two general offences:

  • The giving, promising or offering of a bribe – also known as active bribery;
  • Agreeing to receive or accept a bribe – also known as passive bribery.

It also contains two further offences specifically directed at commercial bribery:

  • Bribery of a foreign public official – this offence does not require the official to carry out their functions improperly, only that they have been improperly influenced;
  • Failing to prevent bribery – this is a strict liability offence, committed by a commercial organisation if it fails to prevent bribery and corruption, whether or not it is culpable.

The Obligation to Prevent Bribery

A particularly controversial aspect of the Bribery Act that distinguishes the law of bribery and corruption from other forms of corporate fraud, is the positive obligation it imposes on companies to have anti-corruption procedures in place.

The strict liability offence of failing to prevent bribery is automatically committed by a commercial organisation if someone associated with it, such as an employee, agent or subsidiary, commits a bribery offence. It is irrelevant whether the organisation was aware of the unlawful conduct, and it will face significant fines unless it can show that it had adequate procedures in place.

Anti-Bribery Procedures

This is not an area that companies can ignore – a recent KPMG survey concluded that over a third of UK companies had not conducted an anti-bribery and corruption assessment and that seventy-one per cent of businesses felt that there were countries where bribery and corruption is an integral part of business. It is no defence that bribery and corruption is a usual or necessary trading practice. The investigating and prosecuting authorities are committed to taking bribery and corruption seriously, and it is vital that businesses ensure that they have adequate anti-bribery procedures in place.

The government has set out six guiding principles to help companies to assess whether their procedures are sufficient to prove that everything possible has been done to prevent bribery and corruption.

These are:

  • that procedures are proportionate to the bribery risks it faces and the nature, scale and complexity of its activities;
  • that top-level management (directors, owners etc.) commit to prevent bribery and foster a culture of zero-tolerance to corruption;
  • to carry out periodic, informed and documented assessments on any potential internal and external risks of bribery;
  • to carry out due diligence in respect of associated persons;
  • to communicate, and provide training on, anti-bribery and corruption policies and procedures throughout the organisation;
  • to monitor and review anti-bribery and corruption policies and procedures.

For advice about whether your policies and procedures are sufficient to avoid criminal liability, please contact us.

Facilitation Payments and Corporate Hospitality

The strong wording of the Bribery Act coupled with the government’s guidance has raised some ambiguities, particularly in regard to the lawfulness of facilitation payments and corporate hospitality. Uncertainty about when these activities will amount to an offence means companies must be careful to ensure that clear policies are in place and that their activities are reasonable, proportionate and in good faith. At HS Legal Solicitors, our expert bribery and corruption solicitors are some of the best in the field, and ready to offer the advice and assistance needed to interpret and comply with the law.

Bribery and Corruption Investigations

The SFO is the agency responsible for investigating bribery. Should it become aware of any corruption indicators, such as unexplained preferences or private meetings during tendering periods or abnormal payments, it is likely to start an investigation and, if appropriate, prosecute.

Contact our Specialist Bribery & Corruption Solicitors

At HS Legal Solicitors, we can help navigate the complex legal framework relating to bribery. We have vast experience representing clients engaged with the SFO, and offer specialist legal advice and assistance in relation to compliance, investigations and prosecutions. If you have been approached by the SFO or suspect an incident of corruption has occurred in your organisation