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Post  millie1* on Thu May 02, 2013 12:02 pm

Hello everyone - finally got this drafted for you to look at - its a basic guide as to what will happen from first contact with RSPCA onwards - with some experience/opinions included - note I am not legally trained but have found this out through trial and error!

RSPCA and the Legal System

Process of a case

1) They may leave a card taped to you gate etc – this should be taken as a warning that someone has reported your animals and the RSPCA are watching you.

2) They may leave a card and an Improvement Notice – please note THIS IS NOT A LEGALLY ENFORCABLE DOCUMENT – the only people able to issue a legally enforcible improvement notice is DEFRA. However, the RSPCA will say that if you do not follow the advice given you may be liable to prosecution under the Animal Welfare Act (and how does that work exactly – you do not follow something that cannot be enforced in law but they can still prosecute!) Also note the RSPCA Inspectors have just 12 weeks training across all species – they are nor specialist animal carers nor do they have any veterinary training.

3) Either following the above, or bypassing the above, you find your animals missing and a removal notice issued by the RSPCA with a contact card. Note the Removal Notice issued should be by the POLICE not the RSPCA – again they are overstepping any legal authority.
The contact card will give the helpline number only – if you choose to contact them they will want all your details to get the Inspector named to call you back (at their convenience and could be several days). I would suggest you contact the helpline number and say just that you have the card but do not wish to speak with the Inspector or discuss matters, do not leave a phone number and if possible block your outgoing caller id. DONT make it easy for them.

If some animals were left behind – MOVE THEM as far as possible – the RSPCA will be back and will take the rest.

If you receive any of the above look up The SHG on the web (The Self Help Group) they have a good knowledge of this field and some helpful tips and advice on their website to get you started. they also have contact details of suitable solicitors etc.

Immediately contact the RSPCA website – and email for the attention of the Legal Department that you wish your vet to examine all your animals which have been seized by Inspector XXX as a matter of urgency and at their cost, tell them that if they fail to agree then you will have an Abuse of Process argument in court since you will not be able to refute any evidence they present by your own vets findings. I would also suggest that you state that no animals are to be treated without your permission – there are certain things they can do without applying to court but others (non routine) that they cannot and must apply to court to do and you must be given a chance to argue why it shouldnt happen. (If there are any drugs or chemicals etc – if you are organic farmer etc worming is an issue – techincally a routine process but all drugs are out of bounds for organic farmers and should they be used you will lose organic status I believe) State which drugs cannot be used on you animals. The email response will probably deny this to you but keep the reply as it will be evidence for your case that they have not given you the ability to defend yourself or your way of life.
The RSPCA have to use the Police to seize your animals – they have no power to do so even on a vets recommendation.
If the animals were kept on your private property then the Police require a warrant to seize the animals if you refuse or are not present at seizure – if they do not have one you will have a legal argument for Unlawful Seizure of your animals which will stand up in Court.

4) They will want to interview you in relation to the animals – my recommendation would be to REFUSE this – solicitors disagree saying you should issue a prepared statement (which they check), but at this stage you cannot apply for legal aid so they will charge you for this. The reason I say refuse is that they will not say what the charges against you are – they will say generally breach of animal welfare act 2006, but they wait for you replies to their questions before drafting the actual charges, you will also not think of all the other things you want to say to them. If you refuse interview they may try to have you arrested for the purpose – they will use the Police for this- you can then claim unlawful imprisonment and wrongful arrest since the Police will be having nothing to do with the case and will not be present at any interview.

If you do choose to be interviewed – make a no comment interview and have a solicitor present if you can.

At no stage sign over your animals to the RSPCA – you will never see them again if you do – old or infirm ones are put to sleep within days of not hours and others rehomed if possible.

It is amazing how much weaker their summonses become if they have nothing to work from!

The RSPCA will then spend several months getting their evidence together before choosing to prosecute – they will get vets, neighbours etc.

5) Spend you time looking out receipts for feed, vets etc that will support your case, dont throw anything away and think about witnesses to your conduct and any evidence of this – email correspondence, contracts, phone bills (evidence of contacting vets etc) Also write up your own account of the months leading up to and including the seizure date while it is fresh in your mind.

6) You are unlikely to be summonsed for nearly 6 months (the time limit they have)You only then see the exact charges they are bringing against you and the statements made by the opposition. Contact an Animal Welfare solicitor NOW, you can now apply for legal aid to help you with your case. Dont bother with your local solicitors – they really dont have sufficient depth of knowledge or contacts to go up against the heavy mob.

THIS IS IMPORTANT – ask whoever represents you to send a request to the CPS to ask that they take over the prosecution from the RSPCA – you have every right to request this but in all the years and with over 2000 prosecutions a year only 4 people have ever asked for this. Note the CPS standard of evidence and water tight case is much higher than the RSPCA’s private prosecutions despite what they claim about following the same rules – you may find that the CPS take over and stop the case depending on the evidence and your defence evidence. (I am currently lobbying my MP to request that if the Animal Welfare Act is to be enforced it should be enforced as all other Criminal Acts ie by the Police and the CPS – this is good enough for the Hunting Act and the Wildlife Act!)

Read and copy all the statements before handing them over to a solicitor. Reading them will be upsetting and make you angry – best to do it a few days later when you are less in shock.

7) 1st Hearing – this is a plea – YOU MUST PLEAD NOT GUILTY at this stage – if you plead guilty you will have little recourse in law in the future even if the evidence against you falls away in the future or is proved malicious. Do not believe them when they say you will get e lighter sentence – you wont Magistrates always believe the RSPCA are right and have an emotional response to the case.

Cool research you own case using the internet, magazine articles etc – if your animal had a particular disease etc research it and send details to your solicitor with contact details of vets working in this area – with the best will in the world he will not have time to do this – the more help you can give him the better. Note however, that not all vets will stand up against the RSPCA since they fear recriminations with letters of complaint to RCVS – which if why the RSPCA tend to use young inexperienced vets to support them, they think they can lean on them harder.

9) Magistrates Trial – this will be harrowing and could last 1 – 10 days (usually 2 – 3) and there will be liews – make sure you can let your solicitor know when the prosecution are lying and how to prove it – if they can lie under oath about one thing they can lie about everything.

RSPCA reportedly win 98% of these cases so dont be surprised if you dont win. If you are convicted – you MUST appeal to the higher court (Crown Court),. You only have 21 days to do this but I would suggest you do this immediately before you leave the court building since you will have the solicitor there to help you and it is done and you can stop worrying about the date. Appeal both conviction and sentence.

10) Appeal Trial – you have to go through the whole thing again, but you have a 55% chance of winning this – dont lose sight of that. Also your sentence may go down (or up of course but more likely down in my experience)

11) If you are still found guilty there is nowhere else to appeal in the UK courts since the Court of Appeal will not hear any case that started in Magistrates – a loophole I think the RSPCA uses very successfully!

However, you may have reason to appeal to the Court of Human Rights – look it up on the net and see if your case might be eligible – it is a long form which you must complete yourself with a summary of why it should be heard there. If they accept your case then you can apply for legal aid and get specialist help in the trial/case.

If your solicitor thinks that the Judge has misinterpretted the law in the crown appeal he can request that the Judge writes the reasons for his conclusions and conviction of you in what is called a Case Stated – again you have 21 days from the conviction date to do this.

If your solicitor still believes the Judge made a mistake you can then apply for a Judicial Review of the case – not sure on timings of this yet – havent got there myself yet! Your solicitor will know this.

These cases will have a significant impact on you and your family and work – make sure you see you doctor if it starts affecting you or anyone in your family – not eating, sleeping, depression, self harming, suicidal thoughts etc – our animals mean alot to most of us and losing them and our reputations can be hard to handle – this is a side to RSPCA cases which is never publicised but should be considered by Judges and Magistrates.

At the end of the day it is up to you how you choose to take you case through the system, but be sure you are prepared for a fight, and believe in you animals and yourself. Get friends and family around you that can help you in the dark days of which there will be many and remember you will always have friends hear who do know exactly what its like, some have been ill advised in the past and it is too late for them to change their own situations now but if you are at the start of the process you still have a chance to WIN.


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RSPCA and the Legal Process

Post  Trilby Bee on Thu May 02, 2013 1:13 pm

Hi Millie...hope all is well with you and well done !!! on the recent post. I feel sure it will be of great help to many people. The Animal Welfare Act 2006 in itself is a daunting read. They overstep the mark so many times, it's excellent for people to know what they can do to help themselves. Very Happy
Trilby Bee

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Post  Candcane on Fri May 03, 2013 9:39 am

Thans for taking the time to list all of that Mille1.


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