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Disparity warning as solicitors react to prosecution fee increase

Criminal defence practitioners may have to take direct action if the government fails to fix a pay disparity that will be made worse by revised fees announced for prosecution advocates, a practitioner group chief has warned.

On Friday the CPS unveiled a package of revised fees for prosecution advocates which it believes addresses concerns over unused material and trials involving multiple defendants. However, the news received a cool reception from the defence community.

Bill Waddington, chair of the Criminal Law Solicitors Association, said he was pleased to see money dripping into the severely underfunded criminal justice system.

‘However, this payment is for prosecution work and does nothing to assist the publicly funded defence system which has been cut to the bone over years with slice after slice being imposed by respective governments. It is now time for politicians to take the crisis in the criminal justice system seriously before it is completely destroyed,’ he said.

He said: ‘This exacerbates a pre-existing problem. For instance CPS costs are recovered according to a notional rate of £69 per hour whereas defenders do so against a benchmark rate of only £45 per hour, less than a CPS paralegal. If a local authority prosecutes the case they can recover as much as £110 per hour.’

Troman, a solicitor and higher courts advocate at London firm Powell Spencer & Partners, said there is ‘ample evidence’ of a recruitment and retention crisis in criminal defence work. ‘Many solicitors train in private defence practices but, once they have gained experience, look to secure a position at the CPS or else leave the profession. This trend will increase.’

LCCSA members ‘are growing impatient with the inertia surrounding the criminal legal aid review and will note that this fee increase only came out following direct action‘, Troman said. ‘If that is the only language the Ministry of Justice understands then the message to this side of the profession is clear’.

The ministry is reviewing criminal legal aid fee schemes. Work has been accelerated on five areas, including unused material – however, the review will not be finished until late 2020.

How A Criminal Defense Lawyer Can Help You

If you have been charged with a crime, whether a misdemeanor or a felony, it is very important that you work with a criminal defense attorney throughout the entire process.

Whether or not you think that the situation is serious, there may be a lot more at risk than is immediately apparent, and you could find yourself looking back on this case years from now wishing that you had taken some different steps. Criminal law is complicated, which is why it is so important that you take this process seriously and work with an experienced Criminal Defense Attorney in Fort Worth.

Many criminal defense attorneys offer free initial consultations with potential clients so that they can ask a variety of questions about their situation and learn about the most appropriate steps that they should be taking to move forward with as much success as possible.

HELP NAVIGATING THE CRIMINAL LAW SYSTEM

The criminal law system in the United States is complicated and confusing, especially for individuals who do not have a comprehensive understanding of the situation that they are involved in, and the possible consequences of a guilty finding or plea agreement. If you are at a court hearing working with a prosecutor, they will make an initial offer for the individual to accept a guilty finding, or may make an initial offer for a plea deal. While this may seem like the proper decision given the circumstances and the individual may want to get the process finished with, it could come back to cause a major issue.

NEGOTIATING ACCEPTABLE OUTCOMES

You may have noticed that there is a theme here, and it all comes down to working towards the most acceptable outcome for your situation. Every step that your attorney takes will be with the intention to get you the lightest possible sentence, the most minimum penalties available for your charges, and how you can mitigate the impact that these charges have on your life. When you are working on your own and attempting to represent yourself, courts and prosecutors will take advantage of your inexperience and you will find yourself walking away with steep penalties without much clarity on how it even happened.

PROFESSIONAL ADVICE FOR YOUR SPECIFIC CASE

When you hire an attorney to represent your case, they are working directly on your behalf in order to help you with your case. This means that any action you think about taking outside of the case that you are unsure of how it will impact your proceedings, then you will be able to consult with them. If you are wondering how your case will impact your ability to apply for jobs, renew a drivers license, apply for housing, or anything else that is unclear at the time, you will be able to contact your attorney and get a specific answer about the exact situation that you are in. While this may not seem like a big deal right off the bat, you will find that their advice and counsel throughout your case is absolutely irreplaceable because of how simple it will make each of these otherwise complicated questions seem.

CONFIDENCE IN YOUR CASE

The most important thing that you will get from working with a criminal defense attorney is confidence. You will be able to get straight answers from them about your entire situation and will be able to plan accordingly for your future given their history of experience and their understanding of how they expect your case to go.