Monday, December 20, 2010

Skeleton Argument: Sample Plea and Mitigation Hearing at Magistrate Court in a criminal matter

Jennifer Ann Slater

Good Morning Madam, I appear before you on behalf of my client Jennifer Ann Slater who has been charged with taking of a vehicle contrary to S.12A of the Theft Act 1968 to make a plea in mitigation.
I put to you that there are some mitigating factors that ought to be considered prior to sentencing.
May I proceed madam (ask permission)

I put to you that my client stole a vehicle in order to get to her kids and consequently crashed in to the front garden wall of her neighbour causing damage to the car and the garden wall. The car was not seriously damaged and was covered by insurance.

Aggravating Factors and Greater Degree of Harm
Madam my I submit to you that:
·         The offence was not premeditated (she stumbled upon an unlocked car whilst seeking shelter from the rain);
·         My client was under the influence of alcohol; however
·         But there was no deliberate damage to the car or garden wall as the accident occurred whilst breaking.

I submit to you that my client does not possess any factors for the greater degree of harm. The factors are:
·         No passengers present;
·         No damage caused to moving traffic accident.

Mitigating factors:
Madam the mitigating factors are that:
·         My client is of young age and that has affected her responsibility. (she is 20 years and has been in the foster care system since the age of 11 and does not have a stable family background);
·         Genuinely remorseful of her actions (is concerned about the future of her family); and
·         the client pleaded guilty

Personal Mitigating:
·         Mother of two young children (aged 6 months and 2 years);
·         On welfare benefits and has no saving;
·         She does not have a home and at the time of offence/currently staying with friends and sleeping on their floor ; and
·         Recently received a letter from the council offering her a council flat (so that she can provide a stable home to her family).

Previous convictions:

The client has three previous convictions. These were Theft and S47 ABH in 2006 and 2008 (the offence of theft was a considerable time ago). There is another offence of TWOC (taking without consent) in 2009.  However, the conviction of TWOC was based around different circumstances. This was when she had to take her son to a hospital as he was suffering from an asthma attack. The car was returned undamaged.

I would urge you Madam not to consider a custodial sentence as this will mean that her children will be taken by the social services and put in foster care.

I submit to you:
·         This offence carries an obligatory disqualification of minimum of 12 months. (Madam I urge to consider keeping this at 12 months as my client has had no previous disqualifications);

Madam I urge to consider a:
·         High level community order with an order of unpaid work and an attendance centre programme (this will act as a deterrent as well as rehabilitate and rebuild her life);
·         Compensation order for the damages to Mrs. Finch’s garden wall for £150. This can be sourced through the deductions from my clients benefit entitlement.

I wish to persuade you Madam that you will not see my client before this court again.
I am happy to address any question that you may have and so is my client.

Possible Questions asked by the DJ
·         Where were her children at the time of the arrest?
·         What was the damage caused to the car and the Garden wall?
·         More information about the 2 counts of Theft in 2006?
·         More information about the section 47 offence in 2008?
·         More information of the couple (whose car was stolen) and the Neighbours (Victims)
·         More information on the friend (Christine Walker)

Note: if a question comes up and you do not know the answer, just refer to the notes and than answer that you have no instructions from your client on this matter.

Contributed by Ali Ashraf Raza, LLB (Hons), Legal Practice Course- (Pro.Dip)  (Nottingham), Associate at Bhandari Naqvi and Riaz.


  1. Great!! Just what I needed for my final assessment!!

  2. Hi, any guidance you can give for a plea in mitigation for someone charged with Assault Occasioning Actual Bodily Harm? Defendant has three previous conviction for obsence langauge, resisitng arrest where fines were paid and also for battery where 21 days of imprisonment were served. D is 24 years old, lives with single mother and sister. He is a mason and also do private jobs in his community. All these incidents have occurred through a drinking habit for which he is in AA now.

  3. Here is a brief outline for a plea in mitigation for your question anonymous:

  4. Hi Sir. Is there any format for mitigation for someone accused under the Money Lenders Act?

    1)Can the accused write their own mitigation letter to the court? Or do we read it to the judge during sentencing?

    2) She (accused) had known Subject A through an online social network and was told A is a businessman.

    3) Accused was in urgent need of cash as: i) she is a single mother aged 22yrs to a 18mth daughter. ii) She was unemployed for 2mths and her mum was in hospital for surgery to remove growth near the neck area and that her father was recovering from injuries due to a road traffic accident. They were also without any house and was renting out from friends (seperately. dad one place. mum, herself with daughter another place) and rent was due.

    3) Subject A knowing her plight offered her fast and easy cash of $750 if she opened up 5 bank accounts citing as a procedure for the online multi level marketing business which she did.

    4) Accused never met A before thus was told to leave the cards at orchard mrt. as A was late and plus the urgent need for accused to attend to her daughter, A suggested accused to place the card near the escalator which she did. Accused then left for the toilet to attend to her daughter.

    4) moments after she left, she was told thru hp that A received.

    I'm seeking your advice on the format for mitigation plea for her case.

  5. Thanks! I was looking for a plea in mitigation sample so I could learn the structure and create my own for an assignment!

    Brilliant! It is so nicely structured too...


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