Case study – Joseph – “Getting help in applying to have my Sexual Offences Prevention Order (SOPO) discharged at court”

As part of his sentence in 2012, Joseph was put on the Sex Offenders Register for five years and given an indefinite SOPO. Whilst he’d always been concerned that there were some fundamental flaws with the SOPO, he’d been advised to ‘live with it’.

As 6 years had passed since the conviction, Joseph was considering applying to have his SOPO discharged and contacted our helpline for some advice on how he should go about this.

We advised him to initially try to get the support from his PPU officer. If the police had no reason to contest his application then it was likely that his case could be dealt with administratively without the need to attend court. If he did need to attend, then it was possible that he could represent himself without the need for legal assistance if he couldn’t afford it.

Joseph contacted us a couple of months later to confirm that he’d had his case heard at court. Initially he’d been concerned that his application would be unsuccessful as the Crown Prosecution Service’s barrister had asked for an adjournment, due to the police wishing to attend the hearing.

However, after reviewing all the evidence presented, the judge made the following comments:

  • He praised Joseph for the thoroughness of his application
  • Although both the CPS and the police had been given ample opportunity to respond to the application, nothing had been forthcoming
  • Had the police and the CPS been more diligent in the original composition of the SOPO, there would have been no need for the application to have been made
  • He commented on the effort Joseph had put in over the previous six years in complying with a dubiously worded order
  • Joseph had made the effort to appear at the hearing.

The judge concluded that he could see no justifiable reason why the application shouldn’t be granted and the SOPO was discharged.

Ultimately, this meant that not only was the SOPO discharged but Joseph’s time on the SOR also came to an end and his conviction was spent under the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act.

Joseph stated:

 

I can’t thank Unlock enough for their help and advice which has enabled me to finally remove this huge weight from my shoulders.

 

Lessons

This case demonstrates how by submitting a well thought out, well worded application with supplementary evidence, you can successfully get a SOPO discharged. Whilst people can be cynical about the criminal justice system, this case highlights how judges will look at the facts before them and base their decisions on this.

Links

Notes about this case study

This case study relates to Unlock’s helpline.

Names and details have been changed to protect the identity of those involved.

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