The Independent reports today:
bq. First-time burglars and other petty criminals will be denied representation in court under government plans to cut the legal aid budget by up to £20m a year.
bq. A series of cost-cutting measures announced yesterday will re-focus legal aid on the more serious offences, ending some defendants’ right to be freely represented by a lawyer in the magistrates’ court.
I understand what they’re saying, but is it correct to describe all these people as ‘petty criminals’ before they’ve been found guilty? Did they wonder whether it would be too long-winded to be more careful?
Rephrasing is difficult, especially when it comes to ‘first-time burglars’, which seems to mean defendants charged with burglary for the first time.