We represented a vulnerable young person charged with two offences of assaulting an emergency worker and a racially aggravated public order act offence.
Whilst our client was 17 years old, her level of cognitive functioning was that of an 8 year old. At our client’s first appearance, we made submissions that our client’s hearing should be adjourned to allow us to make written representations to the Crown Prosecution Service. The Court agreed. At a subsequent hearing, the Youth Offending Service, who had not worked with our client before, and the Crown Prosecution Service, agreed that our client could receive an out of court disposal for these matters. Ordinarily, this decision would be welcomed however, this decision was made without the parties being aware of the full extent of our client’s vulnerabilities.
We made written representations to the Crown Prosecution Service in which we argued that they should withdraw the charges on the basis of both evidential and public interest grounds. The Crown subsequently responded to say that due to the racially aggravated aspect of one of the offences, a formal out of court disposal would be more appropriate and that this had already been authorised.
We made subsequent representations to the Crown Prosecution Service that we would not agree to an out of court disposal on the basis that our client was a vulnerable young person who in our view, would not have the capacity to understand the charges in order to make the necessary admissions for an out of court disposal to be administered. Further, we argued that our client would not be able to fully understand the consequences of accepting an out of court disposal and moreover, the concerns in relation to our client being able to form the necessary mental element for the offences in the first place still remained. We argued that it was not in the public interest for the matter to proceed in any form; either by way of an of court disposal or a prosecution in light of our client's complex needs. We worked with the professionals involved in our client’s care and the Youth Offending Service, who agreed with, and supported, our submissions.
After considering our representations, the Crown withdrew the charges against our client and she remained a young person with no convictions or out of court disposals.
Our client was represented by Sabrina Neves, a solicitor in our specialist Youth Team.