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Alice H
Alice H, Solicitor/Partner
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Experience:  Partner in national law firm
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Hello, can you tell me what the UK law states about assisting

Resolved Question:

Hello, can you tell me what the UK law states about assisting an offender with an outstanding arrest warrant? I have a family member who has not been charged with a crime but is wanted for questioning in Barcelona stemming from an alleged assault on a bartender during a stag visit there. My family member left the United Kingdom before a European Arrest Warrant was issued and is currently overseas outside of Europe. If it is established that I was in regular contact with him by email or went to visit him and delivered him a suitcase of clothes and some cash, could I be charged with an offence (bearing in mind he has not be charged or found guilty yet)? The local police came to the family home to execute the European Arrest Warrant and warned they would be watching very carefully and that we could get into trouble if we knew where he was but didn't disclose it. We made no comments to the PC during the search of the house and they left after 10 minutes. Thank you.
Submitted: 2 years ago.
Category: Law
Expert:  Alice H replied 2 years ago.
My name isXXXXX and I'm happy to help with your question today.

This is a multi-jurisdiction question but I will help you insofar as English law is concerned.

Please tell me - when the clothes and cash were delivered did you know he was wanted for a crime?
Expert:  Alice H replied 2 years ago.
OK not to worry.

The most likely offence is of Assisting an Offender.

Under s.4 of the Criminal Law Act 1967: if you knew or believed the other person to be guilty of the offence being investigated and you assisted him to avoid apprehension, without a reasonable excuse, or lawful authority, then you would be guilty of this offence.

The penalties range from 3 to 10 years imprisonment.

Can I assist any further?

alex
Customer: replied 2 years ago.

Hello , in reply to your first question, no I was not aware of the arrest warrant BEFORE I flew from the UK to the country where my relative was staying.


 


I was informed of the police visit by my parents


 


My brother was stopped on the motorway and asked to produce photo ID. He was not searched, questioned or detained.


 


1) Can I be stopped at Heathrow on my return if they suspect that I was there visiting the relative?


 


2) If I make a no comment interview can I be charged?


 


3) If I make subsequent trips out to the country in question, can it be proved that I went to visit my relative? I have other family members who live in the same country and can say I went to visit them


 


Thank you


 


Arshad

Expert:  Alice H replied 2 years ago.
Hello Arshad

The key to this is whether you knew the other person was 'guilty' of an offence rather than knowing of the existence of an arrest warrant.

Simply helping someone is not a crime nor is sending them clothes or money. But if you did this knowing he was a fugitive guilty of a crime then you could be guilty of assisting an offender. This is what the police have to prove beyond a reasonable doubt.

In order to arrest you the police simply have to suspect that you have committed a crime so, potentially you could be arrested on your way back from visiting the other person.

An arrest does not make you guilty, however, its simply a means to detain and question you. If you make no comment then the police will have to find other evidence before they could charge you - again the key is whether you assisted the other person knowing his guilt.

If you thought he was innocent, for example because he acted in self defence, then you would not be guilty as an assister.

Just because you are not arrested during one trip does not mean that you cannot be arrested on subsequent trips. I cannot be 100% sure of the police motives because I do not work for them and they will not reveal their operational plans to solicitors, but based on the information you have given I think there is a risk of this happening.



Customer: replied 2 years ago.

Thank you for your reply



The key to this is whether you knew the other person was 'guilty' of an offence rather than knowing of the existence of an arrest warrant


 


In this particular case, I have no way of knowing of my relative's potential guilt or otherwise as I was not present. So who would decide whether I had the "knowledge" of this guilt? Would this be from a jury decision based on my criminal prosecution for the Criminal Law Act 1967 which you quoted.


 


And yes in my relative's case, there is considerable doubt about his alleged involvement as there are a lot of suspects and I do not know of any definitive proof of his guilt (CCTV, DNA evidence etc.) so in my mind I have no knowledge of his guilt


 


If you thought he was innocent, for example because he acted in self defence, then you would not be guilty as an assister.


 


Again who's decision would this be? The police? The jury in any trial I might have?


 


Please can you confirm why someone might be found guilty in this case? For example, I have been googling similar cases and came across one very similar to mine


 


http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/scotland/glasgow_and_west/6133028.stm


 


http://www.heraldscotland.com/sport/spl/aberdeen/killer-s-relative-jailed-


for-aiding-escape-plan-1.5336


 


In this case it seems that the relative Mr. Amjad Hussain DID have knowledge of his brother-in-law's guilt. But how can this have been proved beyond a reasonable doubt at the time he bought the plane tickets? It also mentions perverting the course of justice?


 


Obviously I am keen to help out my relative as much as possible and would be keen to know how to cover myself in the event I am asked questions and potentially charged?

Expert:  Alice H replied 2 years ago.
I do understand your concern.

The police are investigators so their job is to gather the evidence and present it to a prosecutor. The police investigation will include interviewing witnesses, interviewing suspects and gathering any other evidence that relates to the case.

In England and Wales the prosecutor is a lawyer at the Crown Prosecution Service. In Scotland it is the Procurator Fiscal. The prosecutor advises the police on whether there is sufficient evidence to prosecute and whether it is in the public interest to do so.

If charged, a jury at the Crown Court would decide your guilt or innocence based on the evidence presented to them. The Judge is the legal referee and deals with all legal matters in Court - the jury are the judges of fact.

I appreciate that you might not have direct knowledge of the alleged incident so the police would probably rely on indirect, or circumstantial evidence, to charge you. They might rely on the travelling and assisting him in cash and clothing - this would tend to show that you know he is a fugitive and hiding.

But the crucial question is do you know he is guilty? This depends entirely on what evidence the police dig up. the recent cases that I dealt with interrogating mobile phones for text messages and internet communications.




Customer: replied 2 years ago.

Hello Alex,


 


Thank you for your answers so far, can you confirm there was no text cutoff from your last answer it seemed to stop abruptly?


 


But the crucial question is do you know he is guilty? This depends entirely on what evidence the police dig up. the recent cases that I dealt with interrogating mobile phones for text messages and internet communications




I will discuss this with my relative today and then ask you any follow up questions I have tomorrow based on your information, thank you

Expert:  Alice H replied 2 years ago.
No problem - I am available all day tomorrow.

The last sentence does appear to have cut off and I apologise for that. It should read:

But the crucial question is do you know he is guilty? This depends entirely on what evidence the police dig up. The recent cases that I dealt with interrogating mobile phones for text messages and internet communications for e-mails was the key as this revealed discussions about the offence in question including an admission from the defendant that he had committed a crime. I simply cannot speculate on what evidence the police could gather in your case - but its usual for the evidence to be indirect and circumstantial and the jury would have to piece the information together to decide whether you are guilty of a crime.

I specialise in criminal litigation and have specialist experience in dealing with these situations. Therefore, please do ask for me by name when you contact us tomorrow.

Regards
Alex Hughes
Alice H, Solicitor/Partner
Category: Law
Satisfied Customers: 2847
Experience: Partner in national law firm
Alice H and other Law Specialists are ready to help you
Expert:  Alice H replied 2 years ago.
Hi Arshad

I am following up our conversation to see how you got on with the issue. If you need any further help then please let me know - remember I am a qualified UK Solicitor and able to help on most aspects of English Law. I am London based and usually able to respond to your query very quickly.

Regards
Alex Hughes
Customer: replied 2 years ago.

Hi Alex,


 


Sorry I was away recently obviously due to recent events, I have had to organise many things.


 


I have left a rating etc for you


 


Thank you


 


Arshad

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