21st August 2018
Unlike Deferred Prosecution Agreements (DPA’s) and section 2 notices, an agreement under the Serious Organised Crime and Police Act 2005 is not a power that is exclusive to the SFO. However, due to the nature of the cases that the SFO prosecute, the option of an agreement pursuant to ss71 to 74 SOCPA may be a possibility, if it is considered appropriate.
Sections 71 to 74 of the Serious Organised Crime and Police Act provide for circumstances in which Offenders or suspects assist an investigation. In exchange for assistance the suspect may qualify for incentives such as immunity from prosecution, restrictions on the evidence that may be used against him at trial and in certain circumstances a reduction or review of the sentence imposed on conviction.
An agreement under ss71 to 74 of SOCPA cannot be entered into lightly and it is rare that such an agreement will be even potentially appropriate for a defendant to consider. However, our expert lawyers are familiar with the process and can assess whether it is a viable option within the context of each case.
Relevant Sections in the Serious Organised Crime and Police Act 2005
Section 71 – s71 provides that the investigator may agree to provide an individual who assists the investigation with total immunity from prosecution.
Section 72 – Where an individual who provides assistance to the Crown is prosecuted, the Crown may agree to not rely on elements of the evidence in the case against that individual.
Section 73 – Where an individual is convicted, but has provided assistance to the Crown, s73 provides that he may be entitled to a reduction in the sentence to be imposed by the Court, though ultimately that is at the discretion of the sentencing judge.
If an offender provides assistance to the Crown after his sentence has been imposed, then Section 74 permits the prosecutor to refer any case back to the Court for a reduction in sentence.
Finally, Section 75 provides that the Court has the power to exclude the public from the court during a hearing in relation to the foregoing provisions.
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