Who We Are

Our professional

We are specialists in representing people accused of sexual offences and have a dedicated team of lawyers committed to defending those who are falsely accused. We understand that being falsely accused of a sexual offence can have a devastating impact on your personal relationships and professional career. Based in London we act for clients across the country. Our lawyers have been involved in some of the most high profile and complex cases in recent times.

We act for clients in the most challenging situations and work with our clients every step of the way. Our many years of experience in the area of criminal law means we have the strategic, specialist knowledge and resources to ensure you have the best possible defence.

How we can help

Whatever stage your case has reached be it police investigation, formal charge, criminal trial or court-martial proceedings we can take charge of the detail. We are available to you at times and locations to suit you. We will scrutinise every aspect of the allegations and defend you at every stage. We will work from day one to dismiss everything that is alleged against you. We will also reassure you and help you to stay positive. We are discreet, determines and rigorous in the representation of all our clients. We know what is at stake and you have our absolute attention.

What to expect

POLICE INVESTIGATIONS

POLICE INVESTIGATIONS

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COURT PROCEEDINGS

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COURT MARTIAL

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APPEALS

POLICE INVESTIGATIONS

If someone has made a false allegation against you, we will advise you what to do next. The Police will interview anyone under suspicion of committing a sexual offence. This will be done either following arrest or voluntarily. Once an interview has taken place the Police will likely need time to complete their investigation. If under arrest a person will be released on bail or released ‘under investigation’. If released on bail there may be conditions attached.

We are regularly instructed at the critical early stages of an investigation, with a view to avoiding charges being brought. The steps taken following an allegation being made can dictate how well you are able to defend it later if it develops. We provide proactive advice from the early stages of a case. This includes challenging the legality of investigative powers, advising on and challenging bail conditions and making pre-charge representation to the Police and prosecuting authorities.

COURT PROCEEDINGS

Every case starts in the Magistrates Court. How the case is managed at the first hearing will depend on the nature of the sexual offence charged.

Some minor criminal offences can only be tried in the Magistrates Court (summary only). The most serious offences can only be heard in the Crown Court (indictable only). Other cases can be heard either in the Magistrates Court or the Crown Court (either way). When charged with an either way offence the Magistrates will decide whether it can be tried in the Magistrates Court. Where they deem it suitable for summary trial you will have the right to elect Crown Court trial. Most allegations of a serious sexual nature, however, are sent to the Crown Court to be tried even when they can be tried ‘either way’.

The first hearing in the Crown Court is a Plea and Trial Preparation Hearing (PTPH) where a plea will be entered. If pleading not guilty the Judge will set a timetable for managing the case and a trial date will be set.

At trial the Judge deals with matters of law and a jury of 12 people will decide, having heard all of the evidence, whether a person is guilty or not guilty.

COURT MARTIAL

A Court Martial has the jurisdiction to try any criminal offence, which includes sexual offences. It is very similar in its sentencing powers and procedure to the civilian Crown Court. In addition, anyone subject to Service law may be tried by the Court Martial for all disciplinary offences, while civilians subject to Service discipline may be tried by the Court Martial for a restricted list of disciplinary offences. It can also deal with appeals from the Service Civilian Court.

APPEALS

If you have been convicted before the Magistrates’ Court you can appeal your conviction to the Crown Court and have your case reheard.

If you were convicted before the Crown Court there is no automatic right of appeal. Appealing your conviction will only be possible if we find grounds to show why the conviction is ‘unsafe’. Grounds of appeal can then be set out in writing to the Court of Appeal. The single judge will decide whether or not the application will have a reasonable chance of succeeding and decide if your case should be argued before the full Court.

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We are specialists in defending

Allegations of Rape

Accused of Rape?

Allegations of rape can devastate your life and ruin your career. The impact can shatter your family and you will need immediate advice and support on how to manage the allegation and its effect on you and those around you. We will help to limit any collateral damage rape allegations can cause. We provide a discrete, reassuring and determined approach to make sure we get the best results for our clients.

At ITN Solicitors we have a specialist sexual offences team led by Hilary Doherty, a partner at the firm. Our team has vast experience and expertise in defending rape cases including those of a historical nature.

Section 1 makes it an offence for a man to intentionally penetrate either orally, vaginally or anally another person without that person’s consent if he does not reasonably believe that the other person consents.

Whether a belief in consent is reasonable will be determined having regard to all the circumstances, including any steps he has taken to ascertain whether the other consents. Reasonable belief in consent may be shown in a number of ways including by the actions and words of the person during the incident.

The basic provision is that a person consents if they agree by choice, and have the freedom and capacity to make that choice. The law does not require the victim to have resisted physically in order to prove a lack of consent.

There are some situations where it will be presumed that the Complainant did not consent and these include circumstances where the accused used or threatened violence or the Complainant was asleep, unconscious, held captive, drugged or incapable of communicating because of a disability. We, as the defence, can rebut these presumptions.

There are also conclusive presumptions about consent that cannot be rebutted, for example if it is proved that the accused deceived the Complainant by impersonating their partner.

Whether a person consented to sexual intercourse can be a complicated matter and it is important to seek specialist legal advice to navigate this complex area.  We will ensure that you are fully informed on this issue and provide the best advice and strategy for your defence.

The basic provision is that a person consents if they agree by choice, and have the freedom and capacity to make that choice. The essence of consent is the agreement by choice, however the law does not require the victim to have resisted physically in order to prove a lack of consent.

There are some situations however where it will presumed that the Complainant did not consent and these include circumstances where the accused used or threatened violence or the Complainant was asleep, unconscious, held captive, drugged or incapable of communicating because of a disability. The defence can rebut these presumptions.

There are also conclusive presumptions about consent that cannot be rebutted, for example if it is proved that the accused deceived the Complainant by impersonating their partner.

Whether a person consented to sexual intercourse can be a complex matter and it is important to seek specialist legal advice to navigate this complicated area.  We will ensure that you are fully informed on this issue and provide the best advice and strategy for your defence.

The Code for Crown Prosecutors sets out and explains how prosecutors make decisions whether to prosecute. When deciding whether to prosecute a rape allegation, the CPS will apply a two stage Full Code Test. This includes an evidential test and a public interest test. In terms of the evidence, there must be a realistic prospect of conviction.

Prosecutors should adopt a merits based approach to the evidential stage of the Code and ask whether, on balance, the evidence is sufficient to merit a conviction taking into account what is known about the defence case. It is therefore important to seek specialist advice at the earliest opportunity. We can provide the expertise and resources needed to defend a rape allegation.

We meticulously analyse all aspects of the prosecution case and explore every detail of defence material. The collecting and strategic deployment of defence material can make the biggest difference in cases of rape. We will immediately consider the following issues;

Forensic evidence

The Prosecution may rely on forensic evidence to prove their case. Forensic evidence in rape cases can include hairs and fibers, Skin cells and bodily fluids. As specialists in defending allegations of rape we know that different interpretations of forensic evidence can lead to different results and conclusions. We have the contacts and resources to instruct the best forensic experts to consider and challenge prosecution expert findings.

Telephone, Email and Social Media

Correspondence and communications to and from the Complainant and Accused can provide crucial evidence in rape cases. There are often differing interpretations that can be applied to conversations, which can impact upon the credibility and integrity of complaints. We have considerable experience of considering and strategically analysing large amounts of correspondence. We apply a focused and deliberate approach to how this material is used to its best advantage.

Actions, Behaviour and Conduct

Often in rape cases it is the conduct and behaviour of the Complainant in the aftermath of the alleged incident that can assist in effectively defending an allegation of rape. Actions and behaviour can impact the credibility of an allegation and reliability of the Complainant.

This also applies to the actions and behaviour of the accused if their conduct is inconsistent with what is alleged.

We can request details of previous allegations made by the Complainant and evidence of any bad character, which can be used to undermine the Prosecution case.

Background and Character

It can be important in cases of rape that your character and background is presented to decision makers. We can obtain and provide character references and other sources of information to demonstrate your background and the person you are.

‘Historic’ Allegations

The law in relation to rape has changed over the years and the law that applies will be dictated by when the alleged incident took place.

Offences committed before 1 May 2004 are prosecuted under the Sexual Offences Act 1956. Rape under the 1956 Act is an act of non-consensual vaginal or anal intercourse by a man with a male or female. It does not include non-consensual oral sex.

Consent is not defined and is deemed as having its ordinary meaning. A lack of consent can be inferred from the surrounding circumstances, such as submission through fear. It is a defence if the accused believed that the victim was consenting, even if this belief was unreasonable, and this is a matter for the jury to decide upon.

There have been a number of further amendments to the law since the 1956 Act came into force. For example ‘consent’ was never defined in the 1956 Act and was to given its ordinary meaning. From 1975 the ‘honest belief’ test (Morgan Defence) applied, which allowed the defence to argue honest belief in consent even if that belief was unreasonable.

This has now been changed by the 2003 Act. It may not be straightforward in understanding what law applies. We are specialists in historic allegations and know the law inside out. We will advise and guide you through the case to ensure that you are fully informed at all stages.

There are an ever-increasing number of reports of historic sexual offending. Often these are reports of alleged abuse over a number of years within a family or marriage, at a school/club or in residential care homes.

It is now widely regarded by the prosecuting authorities that delay in reporting is not indicative of a false allegation and more and more cases are now being prosecuted. Historic allegations arising out of alleged sexual incidents from the distant past are devastating for the person accused.

It is crucial to seek expert advice on how to defend an allegation. We have extensive experience of representing client’s accused of serious sexual offences that allegedly took place many years ago. Our sexual offences team has an excellent record of successfully defending clients accused of these allegations.

Historic allegations are extremely difficult and complex, particularly when alleged incidents happened 20 to 30 years ago. Memories will have faded, contemporary evidence will likely have been destroyed and key witnesses are often no longer available.  Complainants are afforded significant latitude by the Police and Prosecuting authorities in terms of the detail of the alleged incidents and when such incidents took place.

In order to successfully defend these allegations we are meticulous in our preparation. We are rigorous and relentless in our approach to undermining the allegations from the start. We analyse and scrutinise every detail of the prosecution case including the details of what has been alleged and any evidence that the Crown intend to use to prove their case.

We will fully explore all possible defence lines of enquiry, for example similar previous complaints, mental health issues, financial and/or emotional motives for making a false complaint. Our client’s background can often be of equal importance. We will seek and obtain evidence of your character through witness statements and other sources of information to demonstrate the person you are. Witnesses may well give live evidence in Court.

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Get in touch with us

The sexual offences team at ITN Solicitors is led by Hilary Doherty who has an outstanding track record in defending such cases. She is assisted by a specialist team of solicitors and caseworkers all of whom have considerable experience and dedication to this area of criminal law. If you wish to speak to us in confidence, call us or fill out our form.

 

CALL US 0208 4670080