The Practical Lawyer


Procedure – new legislation

With the introduction of various new pieces of criminal legislation in the last few weeks, the author gives a useful summary of the critical elements of the Psychoactive Substances Act 2016 now in force. The definition of ‘psychoactive substance’ and its extent (and exclusions) are clearly set out – with the important reminder that mere possession of a psychoactive substance is not an offence (unless it is in a custodial institution).

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Evidence – shaken baby syndrome

The author of this article considers important practical issues in relation to so-called shaken baby syndrome. Shaken baby syndrome is abusive/non-accidental head injury suffered by infants and toddlers. Their undeveloped muscles and their physical proportions mean shaking and vigorous impact causes the brain to bounce within the skull causing bruising, swelling and bleeding.

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Offences – firearms (1)

An appeal against conviction for firearms offences has been dismissed. The appellant had been convicted of possessing a prohibited firearm under s5(1)(aba) Firearms Act 1968. He was discovered in possession of a replica World War II sub-machine gun which had been converted to be capable of firing live rounds of ammunition: it would only require the removal of a steel bolt to achieve this.
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Offences – contempt of court

A juror’s conviction for contempt of court did not breach her human rights because the conviction had been foreseeable. The juror (A) had been convicted of contempt of court, having been found to have researched the previous criminal record of the defendant in the trial in question – contrary to the judge’s express orders. She was sentenced to six months’ imprisonment.
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Confiscation proceedings – lifting the corporate veil

The Court of Appeal has given guidance to Crown Court judges in criminal confiscation cases where lifting the corporate veil was raised.
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Evidence – stop and search

The statutory powers of police officers to stop and search an individual for an offensive weapon, even if there are no grounds for suspecting they were carrying one, are compatible with the ECHR. The Supreme Court so held when dismissing an appeal against a decision to uphold the dismissal by the divisional court of a claim for judicial review against the Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police, after the appellant (A) had been stopped and searched in Haringey.
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Offences – firearms (2)

Gang-related evidence was appropriately characterised as evidence pertinent to the facts in a recent case, and the sentence passed was neither manifestly excessive nor wrong in principle.
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Corporate crime – health and safety

The High Court has reinstated a notice issued by an H&S inspector, overturning an earlier decision. The notice had been issued following an inspection made on premises where work was to be carried out on a roof. A risk assessment had concluded that continuing work would be unsafe, and a prohibition order was therefore made. Survey Roofing appealed against the notice.
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Procedure – reporting restrictions

The CA has dismissed an appeal against an order directed at the press intended to control ‘vile’ comments on the social media accounts of media organisations during a murder trial.
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Sentencing – restorative justice

What are the benefits behind a restorative justice approach? The author of this useful article sets out some of those benefits, and urges defence lawyers to consider restorative justice principles when advising clients.

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