Nathan is 40, and lives near Fleet. For the purposes of this case study, we have changed his name, but the remainder of the facts remain true. We have published the details with his full permission.
He was arrested following a domestic dispute with another member of his family. While he did not press any charges against the family member following significant bruising to his ribs and abdomen, he was questioned in connection with drugs offences, and subsequently charged.
Nathan has had a long, and to date successful battle with drug addiction.
The charges against Nathan were strange, and needed challenging. They were also extremely unsettling for Nathan. It affected his mental health. He had a very real fear of prison, and began to make threats of suicide.
These were no idle threats. In the last six months, Nathan had attempted to commit suicide twice – once by slashing this throat, and once by taking a massive overdose of pills.
It was clear that Nathan could not afford legal representation, but at no point was it signposted to him what he should do next, and what avenues, if any were available to him. With all of the reports of cuts to Legal Aid, he assumed he would have to defend himself.
Nathan rang Citizens Advice Hart, and came in for an initial session at the Yateley office, where the details of his situation were taken down and assessed. A week later, he was able to come down to the office to talk through his options in greater detail, and the names of two solicitors were provided, one of whom was able to take on his case, and represent him in magistrates court, through Legal Aid at no cost.
One of the charges against Nathan was dropped, while on the other, the judge handed down a non-custodial sentence, making it clear that such a verdict would have been completely counter productive.
“Citizens Advice Hart helped me sort out what my options were, and gave me the confidence to deal with the situation facing me. I was fearing the worst, and saw no clear way forward. That has all changed now, and I am back on my feet again.”
It is not going to be an easy road ahead for Nathan, but at least he has crossed that first bridge, and has restored some degree of confidence about the future.
For more resources from the Citizens Advice website on the legal system, click here.
For more resources from the Citizens Advice website on mental health, click here.
For more resources from the Citizens Advice website on domestic violence or abuse, click here.
If you find yourself at a ‘dead end’, and need reassurance about where to go next with a difficult situation and live in Fleet, Yateley or the surrounding Hart area, contact Citizens Advice Hart on the numbers on this blog. Advice is free, independent, impartial and confidential.