A shared balcony is not a public place. Or so we argued. The surest way to win a case is to have the case dismissed before it reaches a jury. One way to achieve this is to carefully consider whether the prosecution can prove all the elements of their case, and if not, submit there is no case to answer. This can be done if the prosecution has:
- No proof.
- Insufficient proof.
- Or has got the law wrong.
In this case, our client was accused of possession of a knife in a public place. It was a neighbour dispute. Our client’s neighbour had been disturbing him for months with loud music and other anti-social behaviour. This ended in a row on the shared balcony of their block of flats.
It was completely clear that our client was in possession of a knife. The neighbour had filmed part of the confrontation. A knife could be seen in our client’s hand.
Our client’s defence was that he had the knife for self-defence. This is a difficult defence to run as he had to show that his possession of the knife was:
- Necessary, that the danger was such he needed to have a knife to defend himself from assault.
- Reasonable, this was a reasonable way to defend himself.
- Proportionate, the danger was such that a knife was a proper means of defence.
By careful analysis of the prosecution evidence and thorough legal research we argued that a shared balcony of a block flats was not a public place.
No case to answer
Once the prosecution had finished their case, we submitted that because the public did not have unrestricted access to the balcony then it was not a public place and there was no case to answer. The prosecution argued that it was a commonsense interpretation of the relevant law that the balcony was public. However, we were able to point to previous cases in higher courts which made our submissions far more persuasive. The court considered the legal argument and held that there was no case to answer and the charge of possession of a knife was dismissed.
This is an example of how having a legal team that is better prepared than the prosecution can help in getting the best result possible in your case.