The consequences can be severe if you break the rules in prison. A serious breach of the rules can lead to you being hauled in front of the prison Governor or, worse still, in front of a District Judge. ‘Nickings’ are often talked about but rarely properly understood and with that in mind, here are the top 5 misconceptions about adjudications.
1. An adjudication is just a ‘slap on the wrist’ from a prison officer
If you’re charged with breaking the rules in prison, you’ll be taken in front of the prison Governor. If the Governor feels that he cannot deal with the matter himself then he will refer your case to a District Judge.
2. Punishments resulting from adjudications aren’t particularly severe
Assuming that your matter is referred to a District Judge (which is a common occurrence) and you are found guilty, up to 42 additional days can be added to your sentence. In addition, findings of guilt at adjudications can be taken into account by the Parole Board when deciding whether to re- release you if you’ve been recalled or- if you’re an IPP prisoner- when you’re being considered for release.
3. Adjudications are biased and there’s nothing that can be done to fight against the charge
Prisons are bound by strict procedural rules that have to be adhered to. For example, we have had adjudications dismissed for clients who:
- Have not been placed on the correct charge;
- Have not been taken before the prison Governor at the proper time;
- Have not had their matter dealt with by the District Judge within a reasonable period of time; and
- Have not been allowed proper access to witnesses in order to conduct their defence
4. Prisoners have no rights during adjudications
If you’re in front of a District Judge then you are entitled to request legal representation. Your legal representative can meet with you to discuss your case, advise whether the prison have followed the correct procedure and whether you should plead guilty or not guilty to the charge. In the event that you elect to plead not guilty, your legal representative can prepare your matter for a trial, which involves taking your official account of what happened and writing to witnesses who will be able to help support your claim. Your legal representative will also be present during the hearing and can speak on your behalf. In the event that you are found guilty, your legal representative can enter a plea in mitigation on your behalf in order to ensure that you get the lowest possible sentence.
5. Adjudications aren’t covered by legal aid
Adjudications in front of the District Judge automatically pass the ‘interest of justice’ test for legal aid.
WMB Law are specialists in all aspects of prison law- including adjudications- and have over 10 years of experience in representing clients in front of the District Judge. Contact us on 01952 291 100 if you need any advice.