If you are contacted by a client who suspects that there is a European Arrest Warrant issued for their arrest, that person can contact the National Crime Agency to confirm this and arrange a surrender to their local police station. If a client knows that there is a European Arrest Warrant in their name (or a warrant from a Part II country outside the EU) it is often advisable for that person to surrender to their local police station or to Westminster Magistrates Court, as this will greatly increase their chances of being granted bail later on.
Practical steps that clients can take to help themselves
If their passport or ID card has not been seized, they should try to have it brought to the police station. It will need to be surrendered if the client is to be granted bail, and only if the police can confirm they have it; it will save time later on. Steps should be taken to put a security in place. In extradition proceedings, it is incredibly rare for someone to be granted bail without a security being paid into Westminster Magistrates (a surety usually isn’t sufficient, either).
Following arrest, the client must be taken to Westminster Magistrates’ Court “as soon as practicable”. In practice that means the same day if they are arrested very early in the morning, or they live near London. If not, it is likely to be the next day. Westminster is the only Magistrates Court in the country that deals with extradition cases. There have been occasions when a client has been charged with an offence in this country, remanded to appear at their local magistrate’s court and only after they have appeared there are they brought to Westminster. That is not ‘as soon as practicable’; they have to be brought to Westminster first. If they are not, then the extradition proceedings are likely to be discharged. If they also face criminal proceedings in this country, the extradition case will then be put on hold until the criminal case has finished.
At Westminster Magistrates’ Court, a copy of the warrant, arrest statement and PNC will be provided by the Crown Prosecution Service. The arrest statement should state when your client has been arrested and when he or she was given a copy of the warrant. The District Judge at Westminster Magistrates’ Court will have to be satisfied that your client is the person identified in the warrant, and that he has been taken to court and provided with a copy of the warrant as soon as practicable. If the Judge is satisfied with these preliminary issues, then consent to extradition will be put to your client.
If your client wishes to consent to the request for their extradition, then this has to be given in writing. The legal advisor will prepare this form for your client to sign. If your client wants to resist extradition, then the issues or bars to extradition will need to be identified. The Judge will then conduct a case management and set a date for the full hearing.
A bail application will then be heard. This application can be heard regardless of whether your client consents to extradition or not. There is a presumption in favour of bail if your client is wanted for trial (known as an “accusation warrant”). There is no presumption in favour of bail if your client is wanted to serve a sentence (known as a “conviction warrant”). However, most Judges will be minded to grant conditional bail so long as a substantial security is available.
The Judge will most likely make a direction that legal aid is applied for within 7 days. All persons arrested in extradition proceedings will pass the ‘merits’ test. They are subjected to the same ‘means’ test that is carried out when you apply for legal aid in the Magistrates’ Court.
John Howey, Senior SolicitorRead More
Safer Borders? The impact of Brexit on the European Arrest Warrant scheme
One of the themes of the Brexit campaign was that Brexit would give the UK control over its borders and help in the fight against crime and terrorism. Yet, no alternatives to the current extradition arrangements were considered. With Brexit and recent controversial cases of extradition requests made by Romania, the future of the European Arrest Warrant (EAW) is re-emerging as an issue of particular concern.
The UK and International Law
The EAW is a tool used by Governments within the European Union (EU) to secure the arrest and extradition of people who have committed or are accused of committing crimes in their own country. Since 2004, EU Member States are required under the EAW to transfer suspects or prisoners to other states to face trial or complete a sentence.
The UK’s extradition obligations are derived from the bi-lateral and multilateral extradition treaties and agreements to which the UK is a party. These obligations were implemented into domestic law through the Extradition Act 2003. This particular piece of legislation was drafted to bring into force the EAW and to regulate extradition requests by and to the UK.
What would the impact of ‘Brexit’ be?
While the EAW has proven to be an effective instrument in the cross-border fight against crime and terrorism, its future is likely to be in jeopardy after the UK leaves the EU. As the PM Theresa May revealed the full terms of her proposal for EU citizens’ rights, the policy indicated that the government will “apply rules to exclude those who are serious or persistent criminals and those whom we consider a threat to the UK”. The message was subsequently spread across the media that thousands of ‘European criminals’ could face deportation from Britain following Brexit.
In fact, it will be far more difficult to remove accused or convicted persons following Brexit than it is now under the current law. This is largely due to the information sharing system across the EU that UK may no longer be part of. Through its membership of the EU, the Schengen Information System, and the Europol, the UK has access to information about previous convictions of all EU citizens. This means that it is only through the UK’s membership of the EU that the UK has access to information about those offences. It is also through the UK’s membership of the EAW scheme that the UK has an ability to extradite those individuals.
While the UK remains a member of the EU there will be no change to the way extradition law operates under the Extradition Act 2003. However, the inevitable consequence of the completion of the Article 50 process will mean that the UK’s rights and obligations under the EU law will cease. Brexit secretary David Davis has said that arrangements for EAW, Europol and exchanging information will need to be replaced “because that will go when we leave the European Union”.
Consequently, there will need to be amendments to the relevant provisions of domestic law. More importantly, the UK will need to reach some important agreements on its extradition relationship with the EU and the individual Member States. The task would be simplified if the UK could reach an agreement with the EU as a whole. In our recent article entitled ‘The EAW after Brexit’, we indicated that if the UK is not part of the EAW, then any requests for an extradition to and from the UK will most likely follow the system we currently have for non-EU countries. This could become the legal basis for doing business with the remaining EU members, although it is a more onerous and costly route than the EAW.
If the UK is not able to negotiate a similar deal, in all likelihood, it could have a big impact on the government’s ability to bring criminals to justice. There are of course question marks about what will actually happen after Brexit but the probability that cooperation between the UK and the remaining EU countries will be reduced is very high. It is, therefore, a matter for the UK government to make sure that when it comes to the EAW, Brexit does not mean Brexit.Read More
Crown Court ‘Drug’ importation trial success
The JFH Crime team have successfully defended a Portuguese national accused of importing approximately £500,000 of Class A dugs into the country. Our client had travelled from Dubai and said that he believed that he was importing gold in order to avoid the duty that would otherwise have to be paid payable. He was arrested when he met another man to hand over the bag containing the drugs. The other man was arrested, eventually pleaded guilty and received a long prison sentence.
The prosecution relied on telephone evidence, but after looking at that very carefully, we were able to show that there was no link to the other defendant. The phone evidence showed that our client had no idea who he was supposed to be meeting and that he was receiving instructions from a third person, believed to be in Portugal. There was nothing in the phone evidence to suggest that our client knew that he was bringing drugs, rather than gold, into the country.
Our client was held in custody throughout the build up to the trial, and over the course of a number of visits to see him, we were able to take his detailed instructions. The fact that he was able to provide such a detailed account of his actions no doubt helped him at his trial. At the end of the trial, the client was found not guilty, and released from prison. He has now returned home.
The client was represented in the Crown Court by Ms Amanda Hamilton from 15 New Bridge Street Chambers, instructed by John Howey of JFH Crime.
If you have a case in the Crown Court and need representation, please contact us on firstname.lastname@example.org, or call us on 02073881658Read More
The Sentencing Council has today published a consultation paper on sentencing for manslaughter. The timing of this consultation is particularly apt, giving the recent announcement of charges being brought in relation to the Hillsborough disaster and the possibility of charges resulting from the Grenfall Tower fire.
Although much of the media reaction has been to suggest that Judges are being told to impose longer sentences, that is not what the consultation is about. The sentencing guidelines exist to provide a framework within which judge’s work, and to try to ensure consistency throughout the judicial system. There are a number of guidelines already in use, covering robbery, theft, burglary, assault, sexual offences and drugs.
Manslaughter has always been a difficult offence to sentence for, as there are so many different sets of circumstances. The consultation sets out different guidelines for different types of manslaughter; unlawful act manslaughter, which often involves death as a result of a single punch; gross negligence manslaughter; manslaughter by loss of control or by diminished responsibility. There are some significant ranges within the guidelines, for example the guidelines for diminished responsibility range from 3 years imprisonment to 40 years. This is simply reflecting the difficulties that judges have faced for years.
If you want to know more about the work of the Sentencing Council, visit their website here; https://www.sentencingcouncil.org.uk/