ROAD TRAFFIC LAW

At McGreevy & Co., Solicitors we spend a lot of time on the road travelling to courts and prisons across Scotland.  We therefore appreciate the importance of your driving licence to you.

When faced with criminal charges for driving offences we understand the stress and worry this can cause.   The stakes can often be high with your licence, livelihood and income at risk.   We are experienced criminal defence lawyers based in Glasgow.   No matter what charge you are facing, we will provide you with straightforward advice on your options.  The sorts of case which can arise are as follows:

• Speeding

• Death by Dangerous or Careless Driving

• Drink and Drug Driving

• Failure to provide a specimen

• Dangerous Driving

• Careless Driving

• Driving whilst disqualified

• Driving without insurance

• Mobile phone offences

• Failure to stop when instructed to do so

• other road traffic offences

We can assess your eligibility for Legal Aid which may not be available due to the nature of the charge or your financial eligibility.  In those circumstances we will provide you with a quote for the work required.  In most cases we will quote a competitive fixed fee which will offer some certainty regarding the costs involved.

Umar Hussain

If you have been charged with a road traffic offence, feel free to contact our Umar Hussain who will provide you with initial free advice.  He can be contacted at McGreevy & Co., Criminal Defence Solicitors, 370 Victoria Road, Glasgow or by telephone on 0141 422 2220 or 07872122601.

Narrative: The Koestler Scotland Exhibition 2017

 

The Koestler Scotland exhibition has returned to The Tramway in Glasgow.  A few weeks ago I attended the opening of this excellent exhibition.  I was kindly invited once again by a client who is presently in prison.  This client’s work had been chosen to be shown in this year’s exhibition and his work has been exhibited many times at other Koestler Exhibitions.  The thing that I find disappointing is that he never gets to see his work on display.  Each year, however, he arranges for me to attend the opening and in return I report back to him on how it went.  Attending Koestler exhibitions is one of the highlights of my year.  I am not artistic in any way but I find it fascinating that there is huge artistic talent hidden away in  our prisons.  Thankfully the Koestler Trust enables these talents to be seen.

This year’s exhibition is curated by Jenni Fagan.  Follow this link to an article in The National which provides more details.

The exhibition is on at The Tramway until 22 December 2017. It is free and  I thoroughly  recommend a visit.

 

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How to contact The Prison Lawyer.

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Our Mr Smith can be contacted in the following ways:-


Telephone

 0141 239 7407 (direct dial land line)

 07968802638 (mobile telephone)

Each of these telephone numbers has an answering machine. If Mr Smith is unable to answer your call, please wait for the greeting to end and thereafter leave your name, contact details and a brief description of the issue which you wish to discuss with him and he will make arrangements to return your call.

If you are passing these numbers to a person in custody. Please request that they ask for the Prison to lists these numbers as legally privileged in order that their telephone calls to our Mr Smith is confidential.


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Write to Mr Smith at McGreevy & Co., 370 Victoria Road, Govanhill, Glasgow, G42 8YW


Email

theprisonlawyer@gmail.com


Website

You can also contact him via the contact page on the McGreevy & Co., Solicitors Website

http://mcgreevyandcosolicitors.co.uk/contact.php


Social Media

Twitter – www.twitter.com/theprisonlawyer

LinkedIn – https://uk.linkedin.com/in/theprisonlawyer

Feel free to follow and connect.


Koestler Trust Prisoner Art Exhibition at Robertson House, Glasgow

One of my clients very kindly arranged  for me to attend the opening of the Koestler Trust Exhibition at Robertson House in Glasgow on Friday evening.   Unfortunately, due to funding issues, there is no Scottish exhibition for the Koestler Trust this year.  Luckily, The Robertson Trust stepped in and offered Robertson House as a location to exhibit some of the art generated by Scottish prisoners.  While the exhibition is not open to the general public, all those with business at Robertson House will be able to view the art on display.

It was great to attend this exclusive viewing.  I have taken photographs of, I hope, all of the work on display, which should allow you to experience the fabulous art work.

I had the great pleasure of spending some time chatting with Sally Taylor, Chief Executive  Officer of the Koestler Trust.  Her enthusiasm for her job is infectious.  We discussed how Scottish prisoners are unable to directly benefit from the sale of their work, as they do in England. When an English prisoner sells their work, they receive half of the proceeds while the other half goes to victims’ charities.  The rules in Scotland do not permit Scottish prisoners to benefit financially from their work and perhaps this is something which the Scottish Justice Minister could look at changing.

I hope you enjoy.

 

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Adjudication Hearings in Scottish Prisons

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I recently represented a client at an adjudication hearing before the Governor in relation to an alleged breach of prison discipline. This was the first time in my career that I had been allowed to attend such a hearing.  It was suggested to me in the run up to the hearing that it may not have happened for over a decade. It is definitely not a regular occurrence but, surely, that cannot be true?

Prison discipline is regulated by Part 11 of the Prisons and Young Offenders Institution (Scotland) Rules 2011. An adjudication in not a criminal court. However, its purpose is to enforce the Prison Rules and, where a breach of discipline is found to have occurred, to punish accordingly.

Whilst the Prison Rules regulate the procedure, the Scottish Prison Service (SPS) produced a Disciplinary Hearings Guide in 2012. It will be noted from reading the manual that it provides guidance on the procedure to be followed at an adjudication hearing.

The purpose of this blog is to highlight that a prisoner can request the attendance of a solicitor at the hearing. The test applied is as follows:-

 “The Governor may, on the application of a prisoner, permit the prisoner to be represented at the hearing by a legal adviser where in exceptional circumstances the Governor considers such representation is necessary or desirable.”

The criteria that the adjudicator requires to consider are detailed in Part 4 of the Disciplinary Hearings Guide.  In short, they require to consider the seriousness of the charge, any points of law that may arise, the capacity of a particular prisoner to present their own case, procedural difficulties, the need for reasonable speed and the need for fairness.

If a solicitor is allowed to attend they are able  to prepare for the hearing in a similar way to a criminal trial in that they will be allowed to interview witnesses and carry out locus inspections etc.  An adjournment will ordinarily be granted for this purpose. The function of the solicitor representing the prisoner is dealt with at Annex 1 of the Disciplinary Hearings Guide.  Civil ABWOR Legal Aid is made available to financially eligible prisoners to fund the representation.

It was interesting to note that as a result of my attendance, the SPS were also represented at the hearing. The function of the solicitor representing the SPS is dealt with also in Annex 1.

The hearing is inquisitorial in nature. The standard of proof is beyond reasonable doubt however there is no requirement for corroboration. Evidence can be led from written statements, oral evidence, CCTV and any other physical evidence, if available.  The prisoner is also entitled to lead evidence in his or her defence.  At the end of the evidence the adjudicator will make a finding on guilt.  There was some discussion at my hearing as to whether either solicitor was entitled to make submissions before the decision was made. I would suggest that fairness should always make it appropriate to allow submissions to be made and that this should be insisted upon.

If the prisoner is found guilty the solicitor will be entitled to make a plea in mitigation before the punishment is decided.

There is an internal appeal process and if that is not successful a judicial review of the decision can be considered in certain circumstances. The appeal process and judicial review process are detailed at Parts 9 and 10 of the Disciplinary Hearings Guide.

Over the years I have been asked to provide advice on many occasions both before and after an adjudication hearing. I have in the past raised a handful of judicial review actions where failure to allow legal representation was the issue in question.  I have never, until recently, been allowed to attend a hearing. I have always wondered whether there is an institutional reluctance to allow the attendance of a solicitor at the hearing or whether prisoners do not fully understand their rights to make a request for a solicitor to attend. I have always wondered if the Disciplinary Hearings Guide is readily available to all prisoners prior to hearings so that they can fully understand the process and their rights.

It may be thought, since the adjudicator cannot provide a punishment of additional days in prison, that there is no requirement for a solicitor to be present. It is accepted that the procedure is summary in nature and should be dealt with relatively quickly. However, it must be borne in mind that breaches of discipline can have considerable consequences for a prisoner in terms of his category, location and progression to less secure conditions.

It is to be hoped that in the future more solicitors will be allowed to attend such hearings, especially when the consequences of guilt may have a significant impact.

 

Parole

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At McGreevy & Co., we have extensive experience of representing prisoners before the Parole Board for Scotland.  Whether by assisting determinate sentence prisoners in drafting their self-representations or representing Life Prisoners at their Tribunal we are ready and able to help. Our Mr Smith has been assisting prisoners with their applications for parole for approximately 10 years. Mr Smith has appeared before well in excess of 150 Parole Board for Scotland Tribunals and Oral Hearings. Through his prisoner rights work he has amassed considerable knowledge of the workings of the Scottish Prisoner Service and the risk management process they apply to various categories of prisoners. He has attempted over the years to build a working relationship with the prison staff involved in the parole process and those involved in the day to day running of the Parole Board for Scotland.

When choosing a solicitor to assist with a parole application a prisoner should ensure that their solicitor has experience of dealing with such cases. As a firm we strongly believe that the parole process is as important as the initial representation in court. It is all about the preparation. It is all about an intimate knowledge of the paperwork and building a rapport with the prisoner.  The same care and preparation should be afforded to the task by both the applicant for parole and by the solicitor. It is not something that should be left to chance. Often the Parole Board will be considering many cases and the prisoner needs to ensure that the Parole Board has all the information that they need and if not a request should be made that it is obtained.  The instructed solicitor should be aware of the various legal tests that apply to different categories of prisoners. They should be aware of the rules that underpin the process. The solicitor should also be intimately aware of the risk management process that the Scottish Prison Service apply and how these process may affect the application for parole and/or future management of the prisoner. Your solicitor should help you to identify issues that may need further clarification or witnesses to attend at a hearing if there is to be one. It is not a task that should be done half-heartedly. After all, the Parole Board are considering the liberty of the prisoner in much the same way as the court considered it at the start of the sentence.

Our view is that the parole process starts when the prisoner starts his sentence. Everything the prisoner does whilst serving the sentence may form part of the decision making process. Have they failed a drug test?  Have they amassed Governor’s reports?   Have they completed courses or spent time in the Open Estate. However, the formal parole process starts when the prisoner is served with their dossier. This is a set of papers which contains information about the conviction, progress in custody and background reports form social work. Once the prisoner receives their dossier they should immediately contact a solicitor as various time limits will apply depending on the type of sentence being served. The solicitor should ensure that the dossier is read in full as we have no doubt that the members of the Parole Board will have done so.

Determinate Sentence prisoners

Once the dossier is served the prisoner will have 4 weeks to make self-representations.  A determinate sentence prisoner will not only want a solicitor to help them with their self-representations but will want them to identify issues and make written submissions seeking release and addressing the legal test which requires to be met before release can be granted.   A solicitor should also have a full understanding of the case law. Any application will initially be considered in private at a case work meeting. An Oral Hearing may be convened should further information be required or if it is considered preferable to consider release in that way. If that occurs the prisoner will appear before 3 members of the Parole Board along with a solicitor, should they be legally represented.

Extended Sentence prisoners

Whilst an extended sentence prisoner is within the custodial part of their sentence their application for parole will follow the same process as a determinate sentence prisoner. Once an extended sentence prisoner enters the extended part of their sentence a Tribunal of the Parole Board will be convened.

Life Prisoners and Order of Life Long Restriction prisoners

Life Prisoners and OLR prisoners are automatically entitled to a Tribunal before the Parole Board. The first Tribunal will take place as near as possible to the expiry of the tariff. Thereafter it will be up the Parole Board to fix a review date no longer than 2 years hence. We strongly recommend that a solicitor is instructed to assist.

Recalled prisoners

If a prisoner is recalled to custody in terms of Section 17, they will be afforded a right to seek re-release. If they are a Life, OLR or Extended Sentence prisoner in the custodial part of their sentence they will have an automatic right to a Tribunal. If they are a Determinate Sentence prisoner they will have a paper based review. Either way, we strongly recommend that a solicitor is instructed to assist with the process.

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We also assist Scottish prisoners who are serving Scottish sentences in England. Sometimes prisoners from Scotland transfer to England and we are also happy to assist those prisoners with the parole process.

Judicial Review of the Parole Board for Scotland

There is no process to appeal a decision of the Parole Board for Scotland refusing parole. However, in certain limited circumstances, it may be possible to seek a Judicial Review of the decision. Any action of Judicial Review would require to be raised within 3 months of the date of the decision. We have recently been involved in a number of Judicial Review actions where the issue surrounded the failure by the Parole Board for Scotland to hold an Oral Hearing before reaching a final decision. Thankfully none of the Judicial Review Petitions required to be argued as the Parole Board for Scotland assigned an Oral Hearing and reconsidered the applications for release. In many of the cases the prisoner was subsequently released on licence.

We are happy to accept referrals from firms of solicitors who do not make applications for parole or attend Tribunals on behalf of their clients.   We are also happy to provide advice to other solicitors’ clients in respect of actions of Judicial Review of the Parole Board for Scotland.  Please feel free to contact our Mr Smith on 0141 422 2220.

What to do if you are detained by the Police.

YOUR RIGHTS IN POLICE CUSTODY

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At McGreevy and Co., Solicitors we regularly provide advice to clients who find themselves in police custody.   We have provided advice in cases ranging from the most minor, such as someone detained for the theft of a bag of crisps through to the most serious, such as rape and murder – and everything in between.  We have a 24 hour emergency telephone number so that advice can be provided to persons in custody as quickly as possible.  Please feel free to save our 24 hour telephone number –  0141 422 2220 – to your phone.

If you are detained in a police station as an accused person you have various rights.   The Scottish Government has produced a Letter of Rights which provides important information to persons who find themselves in police custody.   Follow this link to the Letter of Rights.  You should ensure that you are afforded all of your rights in police custody and, if you are not,  you should make the appropriate complaint to the police at the time and then inform your solicitor.

One of the most important rights you have in custody is the right to silence.  The only caveat to this right is that you require to give your name, address, date of birth, place of birth  and your nationality.   We suggest that you do not speak to the police about your case until you have sought the advice of a solicitor.  You have a right to a private consultation with a solicitor prior to the police interviewing you.  This will initially be by telephone but, if necessary or preferable, a face to face consultation can also be arranged prior to interview.  You also have the right for a solicitor to be present throughout the interview.

At interview our advice, unless otherwise stated, would be to make “No Comment” to all questions asked of you by the police.  This is your right.

It may be suggested to you that it will be quicker if you do not bother to seek the assistance of a solicitor.  It may also be suggested in the interview that this is the only opportunity that you have to put your side of the story.  That is simply not the case.  If you are prosecuted there will  be a trial at which you will have an opportunity  to have your position presented.  Do not be lulled into a false sense of security.  We recommend that you exercise your right to silence and we strongly advise against waiving your right to seek  advice from a solicitor.

At the conclusion of the interview you will either be charged with an offence or released without charge. If you are charged you will either be kept in custody until the next court day,  released on a police undertaking to attend court at a later date or released for report to the Procurator Fiscal’s Office.   Either way, you should ensure that you have the police immediately contact a solicitor or contact one immediately on your release.

Please feel free to contact us for advice on 0141 422 2220.

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Criminal Defence Services

Criminal Defence Services

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At McGreevy & Co., Solicitors we have considerable experience in dealing with all levels of criminal prosecutions.  Whether in the High Court of Justiciary or the Justice of the Peace Court you will receive the same high level of representations from us.  We understand that facing a criminal prosecution is stressful and we offer straight forward, honest advice about your case.

Our solicitors have many combined years of representing, and conducting trials, for clients in the Sheriff and Justice of the Peace Courts at both Summary and Solemn level.  We pride ourselves in preparing our cases thoroughly no matter the forum of the prosecution.   We have considerable experience preparing complex High Court prosecutions.  As a result we have built up excellent relationships with trusted Senior and Junior Counsel and Solicitor- Advocates. This means that should you require such representations we are in a position to access the best available representation.

Similarly we have also built of a data base of experts to whom we can turn should we require for example a Pathologist, DNA expert, Mobile Phones technology etc.  The working relationships we have forged over a number of years allow us to call on the expertise of others to assist in your defence.

We have dealt with many cases of alleged criminal activity, including:-

  • Murder
  • Culpable Homicide
  • Attempted Murder
  • Assault
  • Rape
  • Drugs Offences
  • Firearms Offences
  • Robbery
  • Domestic Violence
  • Fraud
  • Theft
  • Breach of the Peace
  • Public Order Offences and those with a sectarian or racial aggravation
  • Road Traffic Offences
  • Prison Act Offences

No matter how minor or serious the crime you are accused of you should seek legal advice to assist you to deal with your situation and protect your interests.  If you are accused of a crime it is never too early to take advice.  We are available to advise 24/7 on our emergency contact number 0141 422 2220.

 

Congratulations Umar.

Congratulations to Umar Hussain who is now a fully qualified Solicitor.   We are pleased to announce that Umar will be staying on at the Firm as an Assistant and will continue to deal with criminal cases and Parole Board Hearings.

Umar