Teachers Defence ServiceTeachers and Criminal Law Representation
Police investigations, Charging, Trials, Sentencing, and Regulatory Impacts
Legal Advice and Representation
Teachers Defence Service represents teachers in criminal cases in England and Wales. We also work with criminal lawyers in Northern Ireland and Scotland.
We can advise teachers on preparation for police interviews, on evidentiary disclosure, and about informing the teaching regulators about criminal investigations, charging decisions and convictions or cautions.
Disclosure to the Teaching Regulators of Criminal Process
It is a requirements of the regulators that they be kept informed of criminal investigations, charging decisons, and convictions or other disposals. This is so the regulators can decide whether to impose interim restructions on the teacher, prior to any regulatory sanction that might be imposed, following a criminal conviction or similar.
Police interviews may be by appointment or following an arrest, depending on the seriousness of the allegation. We recommend that a teacher is represented by a solicitor at the police station. If there is no time to arrange for a solicitor of one’s choosing to attend, the duty solicitor should be contacted. The duty solicitor will then attend the police station, speak with the teacher, advise them, possibly assist with the drafting of a statement (following disclosure of the allegation by the police), and then represent the teacher throughout the interview process. Usually, legal aid is automatic for police station interviews, but this may vary across the countries of the UK. For work undertaken after the police station interview legal aid may be obtainable subject to a means-test. Where an appointment is arranged in advance, a teacher has more time to speak with a solicitor and prepare for the attendance at a police interview. We can assist by introducing teachers to appropriately qualified solicitors who can assist during the interview.
Where a teacher denies a criminal allegation the matter will usually go to trial. The trial may be in the magistrates court or higher court such as a crown court (with a jury). The terminology is different across the UK. In England and Wales we can represent teachers. We can liaise with lawyers elsewhere in the UK where the teacher is based in Scotland or Northern Ireland. Handling the case correctly at the criminal trial is important in order to increase the prospects of a teacher keeping their teaching registration, at any subsequent regulatory hearing.
It should be noted that regulators can still investigate teachers who have been acquitted of a criminal offence. The same subject matter can be deemed to be misconduct. Regulatory cases are ‘prosecuted’ on the balance of pronbailities, in contrast to the criminal courts, where the criminal standard applies, which is ‘beyond reasonable doubt’ (or being satisfied so that one is ‘sure’ that the defendant committed the offence).
Where a teacher admits a criminal offence, or is found guilty of an offence, they will be sentenced. The punishment may be a fine, a community punishment,a custodal sentence, or some other reparation order. They will also have to pay the costs of the prosecution. Influencing the sentencing court is very important because the teaching regulator will usually obtain the sentencing remarks. A teacher should therefore obtain evidence that provides a good summary of their position in relation to the offence, along with testimonials and evidence of any steps that have been taken to rehabilitate or to put things right in relation to any victim. This is an often overlooked stage of preparation. We can advise teachers on this aspect of preparation.
Seriousness of the Conviction/Caution/Warning
It is obvious that a certain class of conviction will inevitably lead to removal from the register (by way of a prohibition order). But not all convictions will lead to this outcome. We can discuss with teachers the likely outcome of any regulatory investigation, and guide teachers on how to reply to the regulator, to put forward their best mitigation case. It is important to think about the potential regulatory outcomes when the police first investigate the allegation, and we can have a discussion with teachers to advise on the potential outcomes of given scenarios.
Teaching regulators are particularly concerned about cases relating to dishonesty or sexual offending, as these relate to the core values of a teacher and the future risk that they may pose to their client group (children and young people). We have written guidance for teachers on the process of reflecting on past failings, which we would recommend: Showing Insight in Teacher Misconduct Cases. The reflection process may also have some value in the criminal justice process – at the sentencing stage.
Teachers Defence Service can assist teachers to advance their defence/mitigation in criminal cases and in regulatory cases. It should be noted that the teaching regulators, generally speaking, cannot go behind a conviction. This means that the rgeulator must sanction the teacher based on the conviction, whatever they have to say about the unfairness of the criminal process. The teacher must instead appeal any adverse criminal justice outcome, if they seek to challenge a criminal justice verdict or sentence.
Teachers Defence Service can provide advice and guidance, or advocacy services (including representation in criminal law hearings), and to assist you in dealing with the regulatory impact. Our fees are competitive. Give us a call on 020 3012 0402 without obligation and in strict confidence to see how we can assist you. Or, use our Contact Form.
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We also represent teachers in disciplinary hearings, criminal prosecutions, DBS matters, barring challenges, appeals, civil and employment law. Read More