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Carrying a knife could cost you 4 years in prison

Carry a knife could cost you 4 years in prison.

A Blog Post by Selina Nahar, Crime Solicitor

Figures show that a knife or blade was used in a crime every 16 minutes on average last year, not only that but knife crime has substantially risen by 11% and is nearing the levels of 5 years ago according to Home Office Reports. 

     What is it that makes ‘knife carrying’ so popular amongst today’s youth and is it worth the risk? This article explores some of the underlying issues relating to the spike in knife crime.       

     The rise in knife crime doesn’t necessarily mean a strong causal link between gang culture but there is a fear that our next generation of youths are being accustomed to carry a knife in the hope that they are ‘protecting themselves’, but arguably todays youngsters are a product of their own environment and feel they need that protection to survive.

     Many of the crimes turned into horrific murders. In a recent knife attack on the 22nd June 2020 in Reading, 3 members of the public were killed and a further 3 hospitalised. The Home Secretary Priti Patel spoke about the issue in the House of Commons and described it as a ‘senseless attack’. 

     Arguably it’s a culture that has been created but this is the time where a deeper look into the issues can help our next generation be brought up to be responsible adults and not killers in the making.

     A recent study conducted shows youths stating that they felt ‘confident, like superman’ when they carried a knife. They called it their ‘protection tool’, claiming that they ‘would not leave their house without clothes so why would they leave without a knife’. Many of the youths disregarded our justice system and claimed that ‘it doesn’t rehabilitate them, suggesting that if they were put back out on the streets then there would be the same problem’. Many of the youth insisted that they carried knives because they were scared and there is always danger, so at any point, they may feel they need to pull one out.

     So what can we do to minimise the risk of knife crime and its connection to crime at an early stage? Firstly, the average youth carrying a knife has obtained it from their mother’s kitchen drawer, parents should hold a responsibility towards checking from time to time on their children. The solution is not prison but unfortunately, it is the cost they could incur. It is important that today’s generation is aware and educated to stop carrying knives before the problem even starts. Volunteering and learning new skills can give the youth a route out.

     Parents and the police worry that this could be the start of a vicious cycle. The more stories and headlines portrayed by the media about knife crime are leading to more teenagers carrying knives to protect themselves. Although it can be seen that this problem can exist for a number of reasons, for example in more less privileged areas individuals may feel ‘more powerful, confident and in control’.

WHAT DOES THE LAW SAY ON KNIVES

    You could be looking at up to 4 years imprisonment for possessing a knife. Case law such as ‘Povey’ is applied when sentencing an offender. Carrying a knife in public is a serious offence and is punished with severe sentences in order to protect the public, it is to act as a deterrent. The court states that we must consider the risk of harm which may foreseeably be caused.

The best advice would therefore simply be – DON’T carry it.

     Knife crime figures do not illustrate a clear image, for example, whilst the number of people prosecuted for carrying knives is on the increase, it is suggested that the annual number of stabbings has been falling at times. Although the question about knife crime persists, statistics only show a small percentage that die in violent incidents. The fear of knives has grown and with it, the number of young people that carry knives for protection has increased. The frequent reoccurring statement that carrying a knife provides them with safety.

THE MEDIA AND KNIFE CRIME

     The term ‘knife’ itself is greatly used in the media and its exact meaning remains unclear, it potentially covers a number of offences causing confusion to the outsider of its definition and purpose of its occurrence. A great deal of media reporting biased comments and largely due to lack of inconsistent data on knife crime. Even though it is portrayed that many young people carry knives and kill each other, the statistics show that the number of knife victims has been constant.

     The downside of immense media reporting is the difficulty in the effects such as normalising it. It places thoughts in teenagers minds that having a knife on them is becoming a fashion statement and having a huge effect on their self- fulfilling prophecy. As suggested earlier getting hold of a knife is fairly simple, many being able to obtain it from their kitchen homes.

     There is however a move towards policies being created to help in the reduction, for example a £3 million three- year advertising operation, which was planned by youths for young people to clearly get the significance across that carrying knives can shatter lives and families. Although the relative strength of these policies being introduced is increases in penalties to demonstrate the big effect of knife crime. On the other-hand certain individuals will have no fear of spending time in prison, for them as suggested in a documentary in the Nottingham spike in crime, it is all about reputation, ego and revenge. Young youths fear other teenagers more then they fear the police and more offenders are being jailed for carrying knives.

IS THERE EVER A TIME YOU CAN CARRY A BLADED ARTICLE?

     The defendant is entitled to be acquitted if it can be shown on the balance of probabilities that:

  1. They had good reason or lawful authority for having the bladed or pointed article.
  2. They had the article for use at work.
  3. The article was held for religious reasons.
  4. The article was part of a national costume.

     The defendant does not discharge the burden of showing good reason just by providing an explanation that is not contradicted by prosecution evidence. A defence put forward will always be tested by robust cross examination.

     Successful cases have also come to light where forgetfulness has allowed a successful appeal but ONLY in circumstances where the reason for having the knife in the first place was genuine and allowed by law. Case law such as Chahal v DPP allowed the defendant to successfully appeal against conviction for possessing a bladed article. The defendant had used the knife at work and forgotten to leave it there. It was held that the appeal succeeded as he was seen as a truthful witness –forgetfulness, without some other good reason to support it, will not of itself entitle the accused to the benefit of the defence. The defendant needs to go further and demonstrate the reason of why the knife was there in the first place. The justices in the case appeared to have been misled into thinking that the casual nature of the appellants work deprived him of good reason without more, when the real question was whether the appellant has genuinely had a good reason for having the knife and then genuinely forgotten about it; and that in so far as he had the article with him when recollection was restored he still had a good reason for having it with him.

HELP AVAILABLE

If you are aware of anyone that has been arrested or charged with knife crime do call Deo Volente Solicitors on 01234 350244 and ask to speak to Selina Nahar for advice.

24 HOUR CRIME EMERGENCY NUMBER

 07388175083

Executor Duties

Executor Duties, By Iftekhar Shah, Head of Private Client

Given the increase in Wills, there has been a rise in the number of people appointed as Executors. However, do you know what being an Executor entails? Do you know what rights and responsibilities come alongside accepting Executorship? An Executor is responsible for the management of the deceased’s estate and this is a role which comes with the following responsibilities and duties:

  • Identify the assets:

An Executor must first identify all the assets in the deceased’s estate, and this includes ascertaining details of all bank accounts, pension arrangements and property ownership. An Executor has a duty to contact all asset holders to ascertain the value of the assets at the date of death. 

  • Identify liabilities:

As well as identifying the deceased’s assets, an Executor is also responsible for identifying any outstanding debts or liabilities such as overdrafts, credit cards, or loans. It is advisable to place a notice in The Gazette to notify any potential creditors that they can claim against the estate to reclaim any money owed to them. It is important to note that if a creditor is not paid before distributing the estate, an Executor may later become liable to pay the debts from his/her own pocket!

  • Pay Inheritance Tax:

The next step is to pay Inheritance Tax. This includes assessing the value of the estate, completing the relevant forms, liaising with HMRC and paying any tax due before the deadline. An Executor should determine if there were any taxable gifts made during the deceased’s lifetime and must consider whether any exemptions or reliefs apply. In some cases, other tax such as Income or Capital Gains Tax may also be payable.

  • Apply for grant:

An Executor can then apply for the Grant of Probate which is the legal document that provides authority to deal with and distribute the deceased’s estate in accordance with the terms of the Will.

  • Distribute in accordance with the Will or intestacy:

Once the Grant of Probate has been obtained, the Executor can ‘execute’ the Will by carrying out the deceased’s wishes in accordance with the Will or in the absence of a Will, the laws of Intestacy. If there are Beneficiaries aged under 18, then a Trust with 2 adult Trustees will need to be created; again, the Executor must effectively identify and deal with such additional matters.

Other issues to consider:

Locating Beneficiaries:

The Executor has a duty to find and contact all the named Beneficiaries and notify them of their entitlement under the Will. In some cases, an Executor may initially struggle locating the Beneficiaries, however the Executor would be expected to make reasonable efforts to determine the whereabouts of all named Beneficiaries.

Challenges to the Will:

If there are any concerns about the validity of the Will or if the deceased did not leave suitable provision for a close relative in their Will, then there is the possibility that the Will could be challenged or a claim under the Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependents) Act 1975 may be made against the estate. While such claims are rare, the Executor will have a duty to the estate in any such legal proceedings.

Personal liability:

Acting as an Executor can be an arduous task and is one that comes with personal responsibility. An Executor may be held legally and personally liable for any mistakes made during the administration of the estate, whether intentional or negligent. Therefore, it is recommended to seek independent legal advice to ensure that the estate is administered in accordance with the wishes of the deceased and the law.

How can Deo Volente Solicitors help?

At Deo Volente Solicitors, we understand that dealing with the estate of a deceased can be a difficult and daunting task during what is already an emotional and testing time. Our Private Client team has a wealth of experience in dealing with the administration of estates ranging from small estates to large taxable estates. If you have recently been appointed as an Executor, or would like some assistance regarding the administration of an estate of a loved one, please do not hesitate to contact our friendly Private Client Team by phone on 01234 350244 or by email at i.shah@dvsolicitors.com. In times of bereavement, we pride ourselves on being able to offer a supportive and helpful Probate service to clients.

Post lockdown: Effects on the Property Market.

Post lockdown: Effects on the Property Market, By Tamara Gooding

The Government announced new regulations that lifted the seven weeks freeze on property viewings and home moves. This has understandably left many people with the question – what effect post lockdown will have on the English property market?

Property website Zoopla previously estimated that about 373,000 property sales had been put on hold due to lockdown – with a total value of 82bn. As a result, there are many predictions that the UK property prices will fall dramatically but in comparison many people believe that we may infact see growth in the market. This is due to a combination of pent up demand and freely available mortgages at low rates.

Economists and housing experts are forecasting UK-wide price falls of up to 13%, which are predicted to be due to a number of factors such as; falling incomes and loss of jobs, lack of confidence and a general lack of transactions. In comparison, estate agent Savills has predicted the hit to the market to be more like 5% and a third of valuation surveyors predicting 4% or less.

However, the housing market commentator has said that it is particularly difficult to predict whether house prices will fall and by how much because the nature of the current crisis is different to previous downturns we’ve seen, being caused by global health, rather than economic circumstances.

The 2008 property crash is very much different from our current crisis and this is because the price crash was caused by tough restrictions on borrowing. This combined with higher interest rates meant that there was more negative equity and a greater number of repossessions – subsequently causing house prices to fall.

It is therefore hard to predict what exact effect post lockdown will have on the UK property market as we are in very much uncertain territory.

Whether the current market fall will be 13% or 4% due to the unprecedented times we are currently facing; the result of lockdown will more than likely have a profound effect on both our economy and the UK property market.

It should be mentioned, however, this could be good news for first time buyers and property investors as the post lockdown market is being described as a ‘buyer’s market’. Due to the uncertainty and lack of finances, sellers will be more than willing for a quick sale allowing first time buyers and investors the opportunity to take advantage of reduced sale prices.

At the moment the Bank of England base rate is the lowest it has ever been at 0.1%, so as long as lenders continue lending with low deposits at the current rates, then homeowners are more likely to be able to afford their housing costs and buyers can access money to buy.

If you have any queries regarding a property transaction please get in touch with a member of our Property Department on 01234 350244.

In light of the novel Covid-19 (coronavirus) outbreak, demand for will writing has continuously increased. People are concerned about the future and want to make sure their estate are in order in case anything were to happen to them.

However, due to the government guidelines, particularly the ruling on social distancing, Private Client Solicitors have had to change the way they provide will writing services. The Law Society has declared Solicitors acting in connection with the execution of wills as essential workers, thus alternative arrangements must be made to overcome the limitations existing due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

For a Will to be valid, it must meet all the requirements listed in section 9 of the wills Act 1837. The act states that no will shall be valid unless: –

  1. it is in writing, it is signed by the Testator (person making the will), or by some other person in his/her presence and by his/her direction; and
  2. that the Testator intended to give effect to the will and
  3. the signature is made or acknowledged by the Testator in the presence of two or more witnesses present at the same time; and
  4. each witness either –
    1. (i) attests and signs the will; or
    2. (ii) acknowledges his/her signature, in the presence of the Testator.

These requirements mean that for a will to be valid, all three people involved (The Testator and witnesses) must be in the same room at the same time to witness each signature. However, as a result of social distancing and self-isolation guidelines, it is not practical or safe for Solicitors and clients to witness wills as they usually would.

Overcoming social distancing for will writing

In order to overcome such obstacles and ensure compliance with the formalities of the Wills Act, Private Client Solicitors have adopted certain measures. These measures include:

  • Passing the will through a letterbox for the Testator to sign in front of the window with the witnesses watching from outside and vice versa.
  • Reading the contents of the will to the Testator through the window, and then the Solicitor signing the will on the Testator’s behalf; the witnesses then sign the will with the Testator watching through the window.

Notwithstanding the Coronavirus outbreak and policies on social distancing, there are other means which can be used to ensure that a will is validly drafted and executed.

Although we, Deo Volente Solicitors, have suspended all face to face appointments until further notice, we have adopted alternative methods of communication such as telephone consultations, emails, letters and video calls.

At Deo Volente Solicitors, we will take instructions on your will by telephone consultation or email. We will also offer a ‘window service’ to ensure that your will is correctly drafted and executed, without compromising on your safety and wellbeing. We will always put the best interests of our clients above everything else.

Please rest assured that despite the Coronavirus outbreak, we are still taking instructions, preparing and executing wills. We also offer urgent same day wills to provide you and your families with certainty and comfort. As probate registries are still open, we are also still able to provide our probate services to clients in need.

In these unprecedented times, our experienced and friendly Private Client team can guide you in ensuring that your loved ones do not have to worry about what to do. If you require any advice or assistance on wills and probate, please call us on 01234 350244 for a free telephone consultation today.

Mental Health Awareness Week, 18th-22nd May 2020

In light of Mental Health Awareness Week, The DV Team has prepared a short video to help promote and raise awareness of Mental Health.

We are so happy to speak loudly and proudly about Mental Health; a topic that is no longer taboo and deserves highlighting.

We hope you can all take away a message from our sentiments expressed. YOUR mind matters, YOU matter!