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Jo C.
Jo C., Barrister
Category: UK Law
Satisfied Customers: 70416
Experience:  Over 5 years in practice.
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At a pre-trial hearing at Bury Mags Ct. Prosecution made apps to replace charge of '

Customer Question

At a pre-trial hearing at Bury Mags Ct. Prosecution made apps to replace charge of 'driving' to one of being 'in charge' when I, the Def. was absent, but available outside Courtroom. Other matters were discussed and decisions made by Bench. Was I entitled to be present ?.
Submitted: 2 years ago.
Category: UK Law
Expert:  Jo C. replied 2 years ago.
Thank you for your question. My name is ***** ***** I will try to help with this.
Not a pre trial hearing.
The new charged does need to be put to you at some point so that you can either plead guilty or not. But they can apply for permission to amend in the absence of the defendant. In fact, they don't need the court's permission now either unless the half time point had been passed so it was really just a courtesy.
Can I clarify anything for you?
Customer: replied 2 years ago.
Thank you Jo,
Can you give me the protocol or legislation to research please ?.
Many thanks,
Harry B.
Expert:  Jo C. replied 2 years ago.
It isn't covered by an Act of Parliament.
It just a legal principle.
They don't need consent to amend the charge sheet. Unless it is past half time.
Customer: replied 2 years ago.
Then it must be Common Law, am I correct ?.
Expert:  Jo C. replied 2 years ago.
No, not necessarily.
These things can arise from protocols. Like a presumption of innocence isn't written anywhere.
Customer: replied 2 years ago.
Hello again Jo, I am sorry to be such a nuisance but a lot depends upon the outcome of the trial. My opinion is unqualified but informally qualified by years of experience as a police officer and later as a clerk in criminal defence. We would never ever attempt to petition a court for any alteration, amendment or anything else for that matter unless the defendant's solicitor had been informed. He or she was always obliged to be present or waive the right to be. These conditions applied in both courts, from Murder down to shoplifting. I never needed to establish the law or protocol because it just was. A Judge in CC would be furious if the defendant's solicitor or counsel was not present. I was sitting in the corridor outside the court when the hearing took place. The usher and C.P.S. knew I was there, just yards away, the court heard applications relating to the charge, the date of the charge, the withdrawal of the original charge and the alternative charge, whilst I was totally ignorant of what was happening. Everything had been decided when I was called in. I find it difficult to understand any other way than the defendant at least being present. I thank you for your advice and will ask for your discretion is excusing me for that.
Harry Bunker.