Do I need a solicitor?
Getting advice from someone who has experience of what you’re going through will definitely help. We are independent. We are non-judgmental and we are on your side, but we are also realistic and robust. Decades of experiences has shown us to say it as it is. If the police are involved you definitely need a lawyer. If the allegation has not gone that far then you will have to decide where to find the help for you and your child. It might be from friends, other family or a wider support network, perhaps at school, college or through a trusted social worker. If either you want expert professional advice, or if you can’t turn elsewhere right now, we are the right people to call.
The police want to interview my child?
You definitely need legal advice and support and you should seek it as soon as possible. It is usually possible to make arrangements that are mutually convenient to all, including an appropriate adult. It is almost always possible to get details of the evidence of an allegation before the interview and it will be important to support your child if they have to give their version of events. Sometimes we will draft a written statement of what happened to make sure your child can communicate this clearly. Avoiding a criminal record is always important.
Can I get Legal Aid to help with costs?
Your child will likely be entitled to legal aid if they are being interviewed at a police station or have to go to court, however we do not do any of this work on a legal aid basis. We are not the police solicitor or the duty solicitor. If you want a free lawyer for a police interview you should ask the police to arrange one or find a supplier who does this work on legal aid. You can contact the Legal Aid Agency for a list of all the suppliers in your area. As a parent, there is almost certainly no legal aid for you, and in any event, we do not advise and represent parents or children on these cases on a publicly funded basis.
How much will it cost me?
Every case is different and the costs will vary accordingly. Please contact us to discuss costs and how we can help. However, we can usually find a solution that will match your budget. The issue is usually a question of what will be effective, what will help, what is appropriate and necessary to achieve the best outcome - it’s a question of getting the strategy right. Costs will generally range from a few hundred pounds to several thousand pounds, depending on what support is appropriate.
Who will deal with my case?
Only our senior solicitors handle these cases, given the experience we consider essential. Matthew Graham heads the team and is a Partner at Mowbray Woodwards. Matthew has several years of specialist experience in handling sexual allegations and has lead innovation in treatment for harmful sexual behaviour, including for the vulnerable and for those with mental health issues. Nicholas Wragg trained as a barrister and has extensive experience in handling allegations involving children and young people. He has a particular interest in diverting young people from criminalisation or prosecution, including experience of judicially reviewing decisions to prosecute and in expunging police caution decisions. Charles Cronin has spent a decade in private practice involving representing children and young people in the criminal justice system, including in particular in respect of allegations arising in a school setting. Whichever member of the team handles your case, you can be assured of working with the very best.
Who can come to the Strategy Meeting?
We will agree this when we arrange it, but generally whoever you want to come can come. It may be just you, it may be both parents and/or another carer, sometimes it is even more (and it makes no difference to the cost). There’s no limit - it’s about getting the right advice to the right people. Whether your child comes with you will always need to be considered. In some cases that is appropriate, in some cases it is not, and we will discuss this with you beforehand. Sometimes we meet a parent first and a child later, sometimes both come and we invite the parent to step out of the meeting at some point so we can speak to the child alone. We are focussed on whatever works, on getting the best outcome for your family.
I know my child has done wrong, so how can you help?
Most cases we handle involve a young person having made some error of judgment or immature decision, and our work involves making sure that the consequences are limited and the support is right going forward. If your child has displayed troubling harmful sexual behaviour and we wish to consider seeking external help for them going forward to support them into healthy relationships and sexual behaviour then we have a specialised Treatment Pathway. We will explore this further with you as part of an overall strategy meeting. Help is available.
My child is innocent but the thought of an allegation is terrifying?
We are instructed by parents who understand a sexual allegation has been made about their child, but where there has not yet been a formal complaint to the police or school. The question is how to respond to such an allegation, and what to do about it. We all know that it is possible for allegations to be formalised months, years or decades after the event, so how can we protect your child and your family? Doing nothing rarely feels right. Gathering evidence, retaining accounts, being proactive, taking protective steps may all be on the agenda.