Now that the Swedish Authorities have revoked the European Arrest Warrant that had been issued for his arrest, it might have been assumed that Julian Assange would be leaving the Ecuadorian Embassy, where he has been living since 2012. It seems that he has no plans to do so, at least in the foreseeable future. His problem is that even though the EAW has been revoked, there is still a warrant outstanding for his arrest after he failed to appear at court. This is a separate offence, and is usually taken very seriously; he can be sent to prison for up to 6 months in the Magistrates Court. given the amount of resources that the Metropolitan police have spent on the case, he is almost certain to get a prison sentence if he is ever brought to court.
If he were given a prison sentence, then there seems to be no reason why the Swedish authorities could not re-issue a new EAW. They have made it clear that their decision to drop the EAW is not an indication that the investigation has ended; it is simply a practical decision. He would need to be produced at court and could expect to be refused bail as there are clearly sufficient grounds to believe that he might not attend if he were given bail. Alternatively, if the US authorities do want to take action against him as he fears they do, then they could start proceedings against him.
Whatever happens, it does not seem like Mr Assange will be leaving the embassy a free man at any time soon.
John Howey, Senior SolicitorRead More
What happens from the time you are arrested can be vital in determining the outcome of the case. The first thing you should do is get a solicitor. We always have someone from our team of experienced solicitors and police station representatives on call and available to help.
Once arrested it will generally be because the police wish to question you in relation to your suspected involvement in a criminal offence. By having legal representation at the police station you can ensure that your representative protects your legal rights and advises you on the strength of any potential case against you from an early stage.
The things you say and do from the moment you are arrested and cautioned can potentially be noted by a police officer and used against you as evidence if your case is taken to court.
By having a solicitor at the police station you can ensure that any potential defence you may have is raised from the outset. This could avoid an adverse inference being drawn against you if your case is taken to court.
Remember advice and assistance at the police station from one of the JFH Crime team is free and independent. We are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. If a member of your family or one of your friends is arrested, you can get a solicitor for them, if they don’t have one.
Contact us or call us on 020 7388 1658 to speak to a qualified and experienced criminal solicitor if you require our help. In an emergency you can call our 24 hour helpline on 07939 958767.
Jonh Howey, Senior SolicitorRead More
Once your extradition is ordered, you have seven days to apply for permission to appeal. If you do not appeal, or you have appealed and your appeal has been refused, your extradition should take place within 10 days. That time can be extended, and often is. The country making the extradition request must apply to a Judge for an extension.
If you have not been extradited within 10 days, (and an extension had not been granted) you can apply to Westminster Magistrates Court to be discharged. If there is no good reason for the delay, then you should be discharged. It used to be that once the 10 days had expired it could not be extended. Unfortunately it can be, and once you apply to be discharged, there is nothing to stop the authorities making an application to extend the 10 day period.
We recently dealt with a case where extradition was ordered and the person did not turn up for his flight. He was arrested for theft a few weeks later and given a short prison sentence. He was brought to Westminster Magistrates Court and remanded in custody on his extradition case. It seems that the country that wanted him were not told he had been arrested and he was not extradited. We applied for him to be discharged, and he was. He was in fact in the departure area at Heathrow while we were in court, and some urgent messages had to be passed to stop him being put on the flight home.
Of course, just because you have been discharged, it does not always mean that you have nothing to worry about. The authorities in the country that wants you can reissue the warrant and the process simply starts again.
Extradition and Article 8 of the Human Rights Act
Article 8 of the Human Rights Act, which provides that everyone has a right to respect for his private and family life, is raised as a bar to extradition in a majority of cases. It is, of course, not an absolute right, as a public authority can interfere with the exercise of this right ‘in accordance with the law’ and where it is necessary, for amongst other things ‘the prevention of disorder or crime’.
There has now a substantial volume of case law dealing with Article 8 challenges and it is fair to say that the majority of it is in favour of extradition.
However, there are occasions when an Article 8 argument can be successful. As an example, I recently acted for a Polish lady, whose extradition was sought in relation to an offence of fraud committed in 2000. She had obtained a loan of about £500 from a bank in Poland by amending her pay slips and had not repaid the money. She had committed no other offence in Poland, or in this country, where she had lived since 2005. She was originally given a suspended sentence of 8 months imprisonment. One of the conditions was that she repaid the money. Unfortunately she did not repay the money and the suspended sentence was activated.
I successfully argued that returning her to Poland to serve her sentence would be a disproportionate breach of her article 8 rights. The District Judge took into account the fact that she would be unlikely to have received a custodial sentence in this country, and that she had now repaid the money.
As a result, the client is now continuing to live her law abiding life in this country; and she got a costs order in her favour, so she was able to get some of her costs back!
Drink-driving alcohol limit
England and Wales have the highest alcohol tolerance for drink-driving in Europe. To be guilty of drink-driving, a person must have more than 80mg of alcohol in 100ml of blood, 35 micrograms of alcohol in 100ml of breath or 107mg of alcohol in 100ml of urine. In Scotland, the limit is 50mg of alcohol in 100ml of blood. The only other European country with the same limit as England and Wales is Malta.
Some European countries have different limits for the type of driver. A lower alcohol limit is usually set for commercial drivers or newly qualified drivers. Other countries such as Romania and Croatia, have a zero tolerance to alcohol and any alcohol found in the blood will be a drink-driving offence.
In extradition proceedings, the Judge must be satisfied that the offence committed in the other European country is also considered a criminal offence in the UK. Therefore, many who have been arrested for drink-driving in zero-tolerance countries may not necessarily be guilty of an offence in England and Wales. If that is the case, then extradition cannot take place.
Methods of recording blood alcohol content
A further complication arises as many of our European counterparts have a different method of recording blood alcohol content found in drink-drivers. Romania, Poland and Lithuania do so as a percentage and it is not clear what that translates to compared to the readings used in England and Wales. Often at full hearings, there are arguments as to the correct calculation and translation into micrograms of alcohol per 100ml of blood from the different expression as found in the European Arrest Warrant.
The Crown Prosecution Service is responsible for providing this calculation and translation in each individual case. If they fail to do so, a Requested Person might be discharged as the District Judge cannot be sure that the offending behaviour corresponds to a criminal offence in England and Wales. As Mr Justice Blake says in Czech Republic v Kolman  EWHC 302 (Admin), District Judges ‘should not also need to become part-time experts in bio-chemistry.
Please contact John Howey on 0207 388 1658, or email firstname.lastname@example.org if you wish to discuss your extradition matter with us further, or to find out whether you would be eligible for legal aid for extradition matters. We have a dedicated team of lawyers specialising in extradition who are here to help you.
John Howey, Senior SolicitorRead More