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Successful Private Prosecutions by Individuals

The police and prosecution system in this country are the envy of the world.

However, they do not always get it right.

Individual police officers may get the wrong end of the stick and can take the wrong side in a dispute, for instance in many neighbour disputes.

An Example of one of our Prosecutions

One case we were in provides a typical example.
There was some sort of argument between neighbours.
The first neighbour loses his temper and throws a punch whereupon the other reacts. completely in self defence.
However, in the ensuing fracas the first neighbour comes off much worse with visible injuries and a bloody nose.

So often, we find that it is the first person who goes to the police station and gets their account in first who then becomes the ‘client’ of the police, even if they started the fight by assaulting first. 

So, in this case, the innocent party who was attacked ended up being arrested and as he showed little damage and despite his protests it was he who was charged!

After many months of stress and expense, the matter went to trial and we were easily able to prove our client was not guilty merely by asking the several independent witnesses to give their evidence.

(Witnesses the police had not bothered to interview despite our giving them details)
Of course, this was a wonderful result for our client, but it was a Pyrrhic victory.  He had had the worry, the stress and the expense of clearing his name and the real perpetrator had got off scot free lying to the police and the court.
What we find is that despite incontrovertible evidence brought out in court and reported to the police, they set their face against charging ‘their client’. We even had independent CCTV evidence to prove his guilt.

You see, asking the police to take action is asking them to admit they had got it wrong in the first place.
So, they would not hear of an action against the real aggressor.

This was where a private prosecution was an ideal remedy.

We took full statements from everyone who could help to prove the facts.
We took the matter right into the Crown Court.

The neighbour who caused the fight found himself in the dock and eventually appeared in the Crown Court before a judge feeling very sorry for himself.
He quite clearly was taught a lesson and, in fact, during the proceedings moved right away from the area where our client lived.
Of course, our client was very pleased indeed.
He believed that honour was satisfied and decided to show some magnanimity, by allowing the prosecution to lapse.

Satisfied smiles all round and although it did cost our client some money we were able to obtain most of the defence costs from the State and so our bill was very reasonable indeed.

CRIMINAL REMEDIES ON A SUCCESSFUL PROSECUTION

Criminal Penalties
Depending on the seriousness of the fraud or other crime, the courts have full powers to impose a fine, a community penalty or a prison sentence.
And this creates a Criminal Record for the Defendant!

Confiscation
The criminal courts can order that items used in any fraud can be confiscated under threat of a Contempt of Court criminal charge if not heeded.

Compensation
Similarly, if you can quantify your loss easily the criminal courts can make a compensation order as well as a criminal penalty.
If such a compensation order is deliberately not paid, and the defendant clearly has assets, they can go to prison - such are the greater powers of the criminal courts compared to the civil courts.