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CPS publishes Guidance on Charging Offences arising from Driving Incidents

The Crown Prosecution Service last week published an update to its Guidance on Charging Offences arising from Driving Incidents. The two most significant changes concern drivers in emergencies and deaths where the victim is a close friend or relative of the driver.

"This guidance strikes the right balance between protecting the public and recognising that there are situations when a prosecution for a driving offence may not be in the public interest. Prosecutors will look at all of the facts of a case when making charging decisions," said Keir Starmer QC, the Director of Public Prosecutions. "If a driver was responding to an emergency and took proper care, a prosecution is very unlikely to be in the public interest, but nothing in this guidance excuses recklessness or taking unjustifiable risks."

In cases involving drivers in emergencies, prosecutors will consider:

The nature of the emergency known to or reasonably perceived by the driver - for example, whether the driver was responding to a 999 call in compliance with the agreed operating practice in that service;

The level of culpability of the driver (including the nature of the driving); and

Whether there is evidence the driver may be a continuing danger to others - for example, such evidence may include relevant convictions or internal disciplinary proceedings against the driver.

The guidance for prosecutors considering cases where the victim is a family member or close friend of the driver has also been revised.

"A driver who makes a genuine mistake that ends the life of a close friend or family member will bear a particularly heavy responsibility," continued Mr Starmer. "Following the death of a close friend or family member, it will be presumed that a prosecution is in the public interest, but the emotional trauma suffered by the driver and the consequences of bringing a prosecution for those closest to the victim and driver will be taken into account. These factors will be weighed against the driver's culpability and a driver who continues to pose a danger to others is likely to be prosecuted."

Contact Lewis Nedas' Criminal Lawyers in London

For specialist legal advice please contact our solicitors Jeffrey Lewis or Siobhain Egan on 020 7387 2032 or complete our online enquiry form here.

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2014 Hits

Reports of Child Sexual Abuse up by 14%, says CEOP

Figures produced by the Child Exploitation and Online Protection (CEOP) Centre reveal that in 2012/2013 the child protection agency dealt with 18,887 reports of abuse. This represents a 14% increase on the previous year, with an average of 1,600 reports each month.

The figures also show that, over the same period, CEOP safeguarded and protected 790 children – an increase of 85% on the previous year, and the highest yearly figure since the Centre launched in 2006. In the seven years since the launch, CEOP has protected a total of 2,255 children.

The Centre warns that new trends in child sexual offending, and the growing availability of high-speed internet around the globe, are likely to increase the threat to children.

As part of its Centre Plan, CEOP has set out four key threat areas where it will focus its activity in the forthcoming year.

They are:

  • proliferation of unlawful images of children;
  • online child sexual exploitation;
  • transnational child sexual abuse – including both transient and resident UK nationals and British citizens committing sexual offences abroad; and
  • contact child sexual abuse.

CEOP is due to become part of the National Crime Agency in October 2013.

"Moving into the National Crime Agency as one of the four commands, the Centre will play a pivotal role in sharing our expertise in protecting children," said CEOP Chief Executive Peter Davies. "The Agency will also be able to use specialist resources and knowledge to ensure that children are even safer in the future - not just here in the UK, but also abroad working with our international partners."

Contact Lewis Nedas' Criminal Lawyers in London

For specialist legal advice please contact our solicitors Jeffrey Lewis or Siobhain Egan on 020 7387 2032 or complete our online enquiry form here.

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Money Laundering in the UK: Back in the News Again – by Siobhain Egan

The FCA (Financial conduct Authority) has just imposed a fine of £4.2 million on EFG Private Bank (a reduction of 30%) after finding that the Bank's AML (anti-money laundering) compliance systems were lacking.

This follows the recent BBC Panorama programme which alleged that £35 million of stolen funds from the Russian Treasury (the Magnitsky probe led by the brave and determined Bill Browder) were laundered through ten UK registered front companies. A full report is currently being considered by City of London Police and SOCA.

The Austrians also point fingers at the UK, having come under pressure like Luxembourg to relax their banking secrecy laws, saying that they will only do so when the UK cleans up their offshore tax havens in the Channel Islands, BVI and the Caymans.

So what is the UK doing about these allegations of industrial money laundering through its companies, banks, and offshore tax facilities?

To be fair, there has been some movement, however slow, to deal with these issues. The SFO and other prosecution authorities are anxiously waiting for DPAs (deferred prosecution agreements) to take effect in 2014 so that they can use them to pursue corporates for money laundering, fraud, bribery and corruption. The UK's Sentencing Council, (under the Chairmanship of LJ Leveson) is drafting a sentencing consultation on DPAs and those related offences, so as to bring some consistency of approach to this issue.

However, all this pales in comparison with the aggressive approach favoured by the US who have spearheaded the international anti-money laundering drive and have 'mopped up' financially as a result, with monumental fines.

FATCA (the US Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act) has been incredibly effective. Banks have fined 30% withholding charge on tax monies due to the IRS that have not been declared by US citizens and it has brought the whole issue of money laundering, and indeed aggressive tax avoidance, to the fore.

So, how can this affect you?

If you are a legal, banking, or finance professional it is very easy, for even for the most cautious of us, to get caught up in money laundering, and the authorities are taking a much tougher stance against those professionals. It is vital to know when to make a SAR (suspicious activity report) and to have the best and well executed AML (anti-money laundering) systems in place.

We are currently advising worried professionals, including those under investigation and corporates who are facing difficulties in this regard. Jeffrey Lewis is our key contact.

Money laundering for the lay individual is also providing to be something of a headache, not just in terms of conducting business but also those who are having cash monies seized and restrained.

We have years of unparalled success when dealing with these issues. Contact Jeffrey Lewis.

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1637 Hits

Should I Accept a Criminal Caution?

This is one of the most common questions that our team of leading criminal lawyers are asked, particularly by anxious parents.

The Guardian (13 May 2013) leads with an article stating that the Metropolitan Police have administered cautions for 25% of all recorded crimes last year, including allegations of rape, indecent assault, GBH, violent attacks, robbery, and drug trafficking. All this, despite the fact that Damien Green, our current Minister for the Police, has promised a review of police cautioning after the Magistrates' Association published a damming report on the abuse of police cautions last year.

Very often these cautions are administered to young people or first offenders who do not realise that they will have to live with the consequences of accepting a caution. Less than 50% of arrestees seek legal advice and are unaware that the evidence of the allegation against them is untested or that they may have a defence e.g. self-defence to an allegation of assault or abandonment to one of theft. Not only that but the Police, struggling with budget cuts and targets, are keen to offer cautions as a way of clearing up crime rates and avoiding complex and costly legal proceedings where the evidence may not be as strong as initially thought.

Simple Cautions

These are solely at the discretion of the Police and possibly the CPS (though increasingly the police do not consult the CPS on these issues). They are supposed to be administered for minor offences, but see above.

To accept a caution the following must apply:

  1. You must be over 18 years of age;
  2. There must be evidence that you are guilty;
  3. You must have admitted the offence;
  4. You must agree to be given a caution.

Cautions are generally given to first time offenders but we have seen repeat offenders given a number of cautions.

Conditional Cautions

These are cautions with conditions attached, such as:

  1. An element of rehabilitation e.g. addressing drink/drug problems or anger management issues;
  2. Allowing you to make reparation to the victim;
  3. The application of a fine.

If you or your child is facing such a situation, it is imperative to speak to top criminal lawyers such as ourselves for immediate advice. We know exactly what questions to ask of the Police about the quality of the evidence, or perhaps about your physical/mental state, to ensure that the acceptance of a caution is the correct disposal for you.

It is vital to remember that although a caution is not a criminal conviction, you will have a criminal record which will follow you. It can affect your education, your job, your family and your career.

Cautions will become 'spent' in time but most employers and/or professional associations ask if you have ever had a caution. Forget about a career in finance if you have a caution for dishonesty, even one that is many years old and administered when you were a young person.

Contact any one of our expert criminal lawyers for advice.

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4219 Hits

Offshore Trusts: Next On HMRC's Hit List

Those who do not inform HMRC of offshore trusts to which they are party, could face a financial penalty of 200% of the tax due. A criminal prosecution for tax evasion, money laundering or fraud is likely to follow, especially as HMRC has a renewed appetite for such prosecutions.

Traditionally these trusts (many of which set up in the 80s and 90s) were done so in order to protect assets, but HMRC have long suspected that these trusts are essentially devices to facilitate evasion and other criminal activities.

Many people claiming non-domiciled status and holding valuable properties in offshore trusts or companies, ought to take advice and check that they still fall within the recently amended tax rules (see Budget 2013).

Jeffrey Lewis has just been instructed by an individual facing such a criminal investigation; contact him if you have a similar issue.

We have been successfully advising clients with contentious tax issues (both civil and criminal) for many years.

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1766 Hits

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