We naturally sympathise with the family and friends of Caroline Flack following her recent death.
Much criticism has been made of the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) and its decision to proceed against Flack. This is particularly so as her partner Lewis Burton, the alleged victim in the case, wanted the case to be dropped (or as the law terms it 'discontinued') against her.
Since her death, we have heard about the stress that she was undergoing and how this influenced her underlying hidden mental health issues.
Perhaps this is, therefore, a timely reminder to consider the 2-stage process that the CPS must consider before bringing prosecutions.
The first stage is simply whether there is enough evidence to provide a realistic prospect of conviction. As someone not involved in the proceedings and having not viewed any of the evidence, I do not intend to focus on this stage.
The second stage is whether it is in the public interest to bring the case to court. The CPS guidance refers to a long list of factors that point away from the public interest, including the culpability of the suspect. When considering the level of culpability, the CPS must "have regard to whether the suspect is, or was at the time of the offence, affected by any significant mental or physical ill-health or disability, as in some circumstances this may mean that it is less likely that a prosecution is required."
The CPS, however, can only take a suspect's mental health into account if it is informed beforehand of any difficulties. Defence lawyers, therefore, need to be alert both to spotting the signs of mental illness in our clients and asking relevant questions of our clients and their families. Once we have all facts, we can then request that the CPS reviews its decision as to whether it remains in the public interest to proceed.
If you are facing prosecution, call JARMANS Solicitors on 01795 472291 and let us defend you.