How we persuade the police not to charge you.
Don't just wait to be charged.
We specialise in defending drink and drug cases. The earlier we can begin preparing your case the better. We may even be able to stop the police from charging you. As we did in the case below.
My client, Jack, called me at 4pm on Wednesday afternoon. He'd been referred to our firm from a friend whose drink driving case we won a couple of months back. Jack was worried. He told me he had been pulled over by the police for a 'document check'. The police smelt Cannabis and carried out a swab test. Jack failed. "How could I have failed?", he asked me. He was shocked that he could still have Cannabis in his system from the weekend. I explained to Jack that Cannabis could still be detected in the human body days, sometimes weeks, after consumption. To understand elimination rates, it is necessary to mention 'half-lives'. The half-life of a drug is the amount of time it takes for the concentration of that drug to eliminate by one-half.
The half-life of THC depends on the frequency and quantity of cannabis use. It can range from 1.3 days (for infrequent users) to 5-13 days for regular users.
On average, THC is eliminated from your blood within 24 - 48 hours. It remains detectable for much longer in urine and hair.
Jack was taken to police custody where a sample of blood was taken from him. I asked Jack about his time spent in police custody including the blood testing procedure. I explained the process of taking blood and the purpose of the MGDDB document (which includes around 20 questions). Jack was clear that the MGDDB procedure was not conducted correctly with him. You can read more about incorrectly completed MGDD procedure here.
Jack was obviously concerned about losing his licence and getting a criminal record. Jack worked for BT and needed his vehicle for work. If he lost his licence he lost his job.
Drug driving carries a mandatory minimum 12 month disqualification. The ban cannot be reduced if you're convicted.
Before being released from police custody, Jack was told that his blood results would come back within 4 - 6 weeks. At which point he would be receive a post requisition (if over the limit) or no further action would be taken. The police often incorrectly tell suspects that results will come back in 4 - 6 weeks. In reality, it's more like 4 months. This is due to a serious backlog of samples following the Randox Testing Scandal. Jack was released under investigation and taken back to his vehicle. I told Jack that there were four reasons why his blood would come back positive for THC;
- Jack accepted consumption of Cannabis
- He failed the roadside swab test (indicating the presence of Cannabis)
- The legal limit for THC is 2ug and laboratories use a very sensitive method of analysis
- The police have a 'target driven' culture and want convictions on record
Jack had two options;
- Do nothing until the results come back
- Start challenging the case now
What would you do?
It's in our human nature to sit tight and hope for the best. We are biologically wired to think positively. Unfortunately, in situations like these, it can be very dangerous to do nothing. Failing to act now will almost always result in criminal charges. It might take 6 months but you will end up in court. By that point, the damage is done. You'll find yourself playing catch up with the CPS days before a court hearing. It's a real life nightmare situation.
Why is it crucial to be proactive?
Because being proactive is far better than reactive. A reactive person waits to be charged. A proactive person tries to stop that from happening.
The entire Criminal Justice System has to rely on defendants pleading guilty. It's no secret that the courts are chronically underfunded and overworked. They operate at near breaking-point everyday. If more defendants started challenging cases, the system would grind to a holt. Most people charged with drug driving assume they have to plead guilty if they're over the limit. After all, how can I deny drug driving if I was over the limit? The police rely on the fact that the majority of people charged with 'low priority' motoring offences will step into court and admit to it. In these circumstances, the police don't have to prove the case against you or present any evidence.
Jack's case was no different. The police processed him very quickly in police custody and failed to conduct the correct procedures with him, no doubt assuming he'll just roll over and accept his fate. In our experience, there are at least three reasons why the police cut corners;
- Drug driving is time sensitive. The quicker you're processed the higher the result
- The police are stretched to the maximum
- Due to lack of training, the police often fail to understand the importance of police procedures
I presented these two options to Jack and he decided to be proactive. Together we discussed the game plan. I would begin by writing to the police to ensure that any CCTV showing the evidential procedures be retained (to prevent it being copied over). I would also ask for additional custody information, such as custody records, risk assessments and detention logs. Following a response, we'll turn up the pressure. My team will carefully examine the paperwork to identify any discrepancies or irregularities (which would then be pointed out to the police). I will also write to the police to raise preliminary concerns about the adequacy of the evidence against Jack, focusing on police procedures, codes of practice and human rights. The reason we go into this level of detail is because it causes practical problems for the police. Either they dedicate greater time and resources trying to respond now, or they face serious criticism at a later.
By poking around and asking some difficult questions, it forces the police to think twice about prosecuting you. Once they realise they will have to jump through hoops just to get the case to court, they would sooner cut their loses and move on.
And that's exactly what happened in Jack's case. Within 2 weeks of Jack instructing us, we received the following correspondence from the police;
According to the police, the case was dropped for two reasons;
- the evidence did not satisfy the Full Code Test (i.e. a reasonable prospect of conviction), and;
- it was not in the public interest to prosecute.
It is unclear what the CPS actually mean by the public interest (how can it not be in the public interest to prosecute drug drivers...?). Whatever the reason given by the police, Jack's licence (and his job) was saved.
Jack's case highlights the important of early intervention. Don't wait around to be prosecuted. Try to be as proactive as you can - even if you'd prefer to bury your head in the sand. If we're acting for you, we will handle the correspondence. There is nothing that you need to do.
If you would like to discuss your options, please get in touch. You can speak to a specialist solicitor within seconds. All our initial advice is completely free of charge.