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Jo C.
Jo C., Barrister
Category: Law
Satisfied Customers: 70506
Experience:  Over 5 years in practice
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Offences in the UK police have six months to submit

Customer Question

For summary offences in the UK police have six months to submit papers to a court right? If they fail to make an arrest / interview / charge a suspect within that time period, then what happens? They cannot summons you to court without having made relevant enquiries and or arrested you right? Its not like they can skip that entire process and just send you a court summons without ever being charged.
Submitted: 2 years ago.
Category: Law
Expert:  Jo C. replied 2 years ago.
Hi.
Thank you for your question. My name is ***** ***** I will try to help with this.
-Could you explain your situation a little more?
Customer: replied 2 years ago.

This is a technical Law question about court procedures and filings and bringing lawful prosecutions within time frames set by legislation.

Expert:  Jo C. replied 2 years ago.
They have to lay an information within six months.
If they do not then, save for very limited exceptions, they cannot bring a prosecution. They can still make arrests as pace is not effected but there is no point.
This does only apply to summary only offences rather than either way offences which can be tried summarily.
Can I clarify anything for you?
Jo
Jo C. and other Law Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 2 years ago.

Ok, but my question is can they "Lay" information against someone, (i.e issue a court summons) without making an arrest or having charged someone within the 6 month time period? Lets assume it is an investigation for damage of property say.

Expert:  Jo C. replied 2 years ago.
Oh yes they can.
They don't have to either arrest or charge. They can just issue a summons if the information was in time.
Customer: replied 2 years ago.

Are you sure? i am getting conflicting information on this. You are telling me the CPS can lay information to a court against someone for summary offences without having heard the other persons account, without having being cautioned, arrested or charged or ever having spoken to them regarding the allegation within the 6 months? Remember the allegation is for property damage in this example.

Expert:  Jo C. replied 2 years ago.
Yes.
That is what they do all the time with offences that would not normally attract an arrest
They wouldn't normally do that for a charge of this kind but they coukd and if timing is an issue then they would.
Customer: replied 2 years ago.

How do we find out if information has been laid against someone? Without having to wait for the court to reach out first (if someone wants piece of mind say). Can the solicitor check with the court?

And also, who decides whether the information is worth laying? I.e Do the CPS review the evidence first then decide if want to prosecute then they would lay the information, if they felt they had enough evidence for conviction?

Expert:  Jo C. replied 2 years ago.
There isn't any guaranteed way of doing that.
A solicitor could ask but would probably be told to wait for the summons I'm afraid.
If this is a summary only matter then the police could have summonsed without cps advice but usually they will get advice from cps.
Customer: replied 2 years ago.

I am confused about the way things work. If someone is charged and they intend to prosecute, it is done on the say so of the cps no? A summons is kind of like being charged? So why would a summons ever be done without cps advice? (although i understand you say that it is not common for that to happen)

Expert:  Jo C. replied 2 years ago.
No, it is as I've said.
The police can charge or Simmons for summary only matters but will usually get the advice of cps.
The police used to charge everything without the advice of cps. it is only a policy choice fat they do it at all.
Customer: replied 2 years ago.

once information is laid do they then stop investigating the allegation, as in stop knocking on the door or does that continue all the way up until the court date?

Expert:  Jo C. replied 2 years ago.
It depends on the reasons for that but if they are trying to arrest somebody then they could carry on.
If you tell them where he is to the best of your knowledge then you could tell them and that might bring an end to it.
Customer: replied 2 years ago.

is it fair to say that if no warrant is issued for an arrest then it would be abnormal for them to lay summons. Would the correct protocol not be to arrest if can. i,e bare in mind the offence which we are hypothetically keeping in mind.

Customer: replied 2 years ago.

Can you pls tell me what would be normal cause of action in such a case. If investigating property damage would it not be normal practise to arrest if can with warrant before any information is laid. What i mean is information being laid against someone without an arrest for their warrant in such a case would be unorthodox?

Expert:  Jo C. replied 2 years ago.
No it wojle be normal doe them to lay a summos then. Usually either they arrest or summons.
Customer: replied 2 years ago.

sorry you have too many typos in your last response. Did you wrtie It would be or wouldn't be...pls can you retype your answer

Expert:  Jo C. replied 2 years ago.
Sorry, that was the ipad. I don't know why spell check didn't pick that up.
No, it WOULD NOT be normal for them to summons and arrest. Usually they will do one other depending on the circumstances.
Customer: replied 2 years ago.

Lets stick to what would usually happen most of the time. What i am trying to say is this:

If property damage is an offence which usually warrants an arrest (as you alluded to above), if no arrest is ever made then it is unlikely they would skip that step and just lay information to the courts. Why would they not arrest if that is what they usually do before laying for this type of offence. So if there is no arrest is it safe to assume they are just investigating and the likely hood of a surprise letter through the post is small, since otherwise they would have made an arrest, right?

Expert:  Jo C. replied 2 years ago.
Well, as I have said really.
If time is an issue then they could just lay an information.
No, I am sorry it is not safe to make that presumption.
Customer: replied 2 years ago.

Yes, but as you said normally this type offence would be dealt with in the way of an arrest and "if time is not an issue" (they have been investigation for many months), then one would most of the time expect them to make an arrest and charge someone for this kind of offence, correct?

Expert:  Jo C. replied 2 years ago.
Not necessarily. They could summons.
Customer: replied 2 years ago.

Yes not necessarily and i understand they "could" summons but you said usually this type offence would not be one which they would do that for, correct? You artoe above:

They wouldn't normally do that for a charge of this kind but they coukd and if timing is an issue then they would.

Expert:  Jo C. replied 2 years ago.
I was referring to both arrest and summons.
I'm really sorry and I wish I could give you a different answer but I am not going to be able to tell you that the fact he hasn't been arrested yet means they cannot pursue this.
Customer: replied 2 years ago.

i am getting confused... when you wrote above:

"They wouldn't normally do that for a charge of this kind but they coukd and if timing is an issue then they would."

You were implying that the normal cause of action would be an arrest for such an offence correct? Please note i am not asking you what are all the things they could do under the realm of possibility. I am asking what would be normal protocol or the usual most likely scenario. The caveats of other things is understood.

Expert:  Jo C. replied 2 years ago.
It depends on the circumstances.
There could be lots of reasons they would summons rather than arrest. Sometimes it is just less labour intensive.
Customer: replied 2 years ago.

ok thnk you. I feel you are giving me all possible outcomes when i am merely asking for the most probable one. If i was to ask you this question in a different way say.

Example: A minor assault is also a summary offence. Now if the police had a suspect in mind for months, would you attach a 50/50 probability on them arresting (assuming they could and timing was not an issue) versus them not arresting and just laying a summons. Are you saying it is a 50/50 shot, so it is random whether they decide to make an arrest or avoid making an arrest all together and skip straight to laying information. The two things surely cannot have a 50% chance. Usual process (higher probability) must surely be assigned to an arrest for common assault.

Expert:  Jo C. replied 2 years ago.
I'm not sure I can add much to this. I feel we are going round in circles.
Whether they summons or arrest depends on the circumstances. It isn't 50-50 but it depends on the circumstances. Some people don't warrant an arrest and some do. If timing is an issue then they will get around it with a summons.
Customer: replied 2 years ago.

ok thank you. On more thing.. I assume the same criteria/ threshold in examining evidence is used for when issuing a summons as is used when charging someone?

Expert:  Jo C. replied 2 years ago.
Yes absolutely. It is just a different means of bringing it to court. Nothing else changes.