We wrote recently about Marie Dinou who was convicted by North Tyneside Magistrates’ Court for breaching the Coronavirus Act 2020 by refusing to tell the police why she was at Newcastle Train Station.
We have since been informed that the conviction was set aside, meaning the conviction was overturned, after it emerged that the District Judge hearing the case tried Ms Dinou without her having seen a lawyer or the evidence against her and in Ms Dinou’s absence. The charges were subsequently dropped after it emerged that British Transport Police and the Crown Prosecution Service and charged and tried Ms Dinou for the wrong offence.
Judges riding roughshod over the rights of defendants and police prosecuting for the wrong offences is something that people accused of crimes need to be particularly wary of happening to them when the law is new, and people are panicky. The best defence against this happening to you is for you to instruct a solicitor who understands the law and who can stand up to overbearing judges and poorly informed prosecutors to ensure that you are not denied your rights.
The law allows police officers to arrest anybody who is outside their home without a reasonable excuse, whether or not they are infected with coronavirus. Reasonable excuses include travelling to and from work where working from home is impossible, shopping for food and taking exercise. There are a variety of other reasonable excuses cited in the legislation.
Being found outside your home without a reasonable excuse is now a criminal offence that is punishable by an unlimited fine. The amount you will be forced to pay depends on your income so the more you earn the more you will have to pay. You will also be ordered to pay the prosecution costs and a surcharge of 10% of the fine imposed on you. If you are convicted you will have a criminal record that you will have to disclose for 12 months from the date of sentence if you apply for any new job; however, the conviction will be disclosed by an enhanced criminal record check forever.
We have an experienced team of litigators and advocates who are ready, able and willing to help you should you find yourself accused of breaking the coronavirus law