There are many questions arising and lessons to be learnt from the tragic death of Caroline Flack. It is understood that the celebrity committed suicide on 14 February 2020. Caroline was awaiting trial for an allegation of Domestic Violence against her male partner.
The court had imposed strict bail conditions upon Caroline, including a condition not to contact her partner.
The Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) indicated that they would proceed to trial despite Caroline’s partner making a withdrawal statement and confirming publicly that he did not support the prosecution.
The situation was exacerbated by adverse publicity which included publishing intimate details of Flack’s private life in the lead up to her death, which many now argue fed online abuse from social media trolls.
This resulted in a petition dubbed ‘Caroline’s Law’ regarding the human rights of celebrities.
Many people have asked us why the prosecution was pursued and why the stringent bail conditions remained if the complainant sought to withdraw the allegations.
The CPS have now responded and released guidance on how it reaches charging decisions and reviews cases where complainant’s withdraw allegations in Domestic Violence cases.
The reality is that any case which falls under the heading of Domestic Violence must be treated gender neutrally. It is a recognised fact that in Domestic Violence cases complainants often withdraw allegations due to emotional, physical or personal pressure from the perpetrator or their respective family circumstances. Therefore, a crucial public interest factor which the CPS and Courts are highly mindful of, is that a successful prosecution will protect the victim from further abuse.
It is imperative if charged, regardless of celebrity status, that you surround yourself with a supportive legal team who can liaise effectively on your behalf with the police, CPS and the Courts.
This case also highlights the importance of post-charge representations for the accused in Domestic Violence cases.
Post-charge representations to the CPS should commence soon after a charging decision has been made. This enables the CPS to be armed with the facts to consider both parties positions before the matter reaches trial.
Your defence team should also be in a position to provide internal and external support with managing adverse publicity through this crucial period.
It is therefore, crucial that those who are accused or charged with Domestic Violence offences, regardless of whether the allegation is a minor or serious one, ensure they instruct at the outset a defence team who can liaise with the Police, CPS and Courts at each stage of proceedings (pre-charge and post-charge). At Garrick Law we pride ourselves in providing such guidance and support.
If you have children and/or are in the process of separation and divorce a conviction for Domestic Violence can have devastating consequences for any ensuing family proceedings and child contact agreements.
The interaction of Criminal and Family Law in such offences can be complex. Therefore, it must be managed and advised upon from the outset to ensure the greatest level of assistance and protection for our clients. Garrick Law prides itself in providing this holistic approach.