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Perverting the Course of Justice

If you have been charged with any Public Justice Offence you will need an experienced solicitor to assist with your defence.

Here at Norrie Waite & Slater we have a large team of solicitors who are experts in dealing with cases of perverting the course of justice, perjury, witness intimidation and offences concerning the Police.

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It is possible to mount a successful defence against these charges and one of our specialist solicitors will examine the circumstances surrounding your case and help to mount a defence on your behalf.

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Perverting the course of justice

This is the term which broadly described a number of possible crimes. A positive act is normally required to constitute perverting the course of justice; inaction is not sufficient to warrant this charge.

The offence of Perverting the Course of Justice is committed when an accused:

  • does an act or series of acts
  • which has or have a tendency to pervert; and
  • which is or are intended to pervert
  • the course of public justice

The offence is contrary to common law and triable only on indictment. It carries a maximum penalty of life imprisonment and/or a fine.

The course of justice must be in existence at the time of the act(s). The course of justice starts when:

  • an event has occurred, from which it can reasonably be expected that an investigation will follow; or
  • investigations which could/might bring proceedings have actually started; or
  • proceedings have started or are about to start.

If you have been charged with any form of perverting the course of justice, contact us now to speak to one of our specialist criminal defence solicitors.

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Perjury


Perjury is committed when:
  • a lawfully sworn witness or interpreter
  • in judicial proceedings
  • wilfully makes a false statement
  • which he knows to be false or does not believe to be true, and
  • which is material in the proceedings.

The offence is triable only on indictment and carries a maximum penalty of seven years' imprisonment and/or a fine.

A conviction cannot be obtained solely on the evidence of a single witness as to the falsity of any statement. There must be some other evidence of the falsity of the statement, for example, a letter or account written by the defendant contradicting his sworn evidence is sufficient if supported by a single witness.

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Perjury is regarded by the Courts as one of the most serious offences because it is said to wholly undermine the whole basis of the administration of justice. It is regarded as being just as serious whether it is committed in the context of a minor case, for example a car passenger who falsely states that the driver did not jump a red light as alleged, or a serious case, for example a false alibi witness in a bank robbery case.

In most cases, an offence of perjury will also amount to perverting the course of justice. If the perjury is the sole or principal act, then it will be normal to charge perjury. If the perjury is part of a much more significant series of acts aimed at perverting justice, then a charge of perverting the course of justice would be more likely.

If you have been charged with any form of perverting the course of justice, contact us now to speak to one of our specialist criminal defence solicitors.

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Witness intimidation (Intimidating or harming a Witness / Juror or others)

A number of separate crimes exist which revolve around intimidating or harming others who are involved in the investigation or trial of a criminal offence. This can be anyone from a Police officer to a witness or a juror.

Intimidation is defined as:

  • An act which intimidates, and is intended to intimidate another person (the victim)
  • Knowing or believing that the victim is, or may be a witness in any relevant proceedings, and
  • Intending by his act to cause the course of justice to be obstructed, perverted or interfered with, and
  • The act is done after the commencement of those proceedings.

It is immaterial:

  • Whether the act is done in the presence of the victim.
  • Whether the act is done to the victim himself or to another.
  • Whether or not the intention to cause the course of justice to be obstructed, perverted or interfered with is the predominant intention of the person doing the act.

Harming is defined as:

  • An act which harms and is intended to harm another person, or
  • Intending to cause another person to fear harm, he threatens to do an act, which would harm that other person.

If you have been charged with any form of perverting the course of justice, contact us now to speak to one of our specialist criminal defence solicitors.

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Offences concerning the Police

A number of crimes exist relating to offences concerning the Police. In addition to obstructing a Police officer and wasting Police time it is also possible to be charged with impersonating a Police officer and refusing to assist a constable.

Obstructing a Police officer

A person obstructs a constable if he prevents him from carrying out his duties or makes it more difficult for him to do so.

The obstruction must be 'wilful', meaning the accused must act (or refuse to act) deliberately, knowing and intending his act will obstruct the constable. The motive for the act is irrelevant.

Many instances of obstruction relate to a physical and violent obstruction of an officer in, for example, a public order or arrest situation.

Examples of the type of conduct which may constitute the offence of obstructing a police officer include:

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  • warning that a police search of premises is to occur
  • giving a warning to other motorists of a police speed trap ahead
  • someone who persists in giving a false name and address
  • a witness giving a false name and address
  • a partner who falsely claiming that he/she was driving at the time of the accident but relenting before the breathalyser procedure is frustrated
  • an occupier inhibiting the proper execution of a search warrant
  • refusing to admit constables into a house when there is a right of entry

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Wasting Police time

The offence of wasting police time is committed when a person:

  • causes any wasteful employment of the police by
  • knowingly making to any person a false report orally or in writing tending to
  • show that an offence has been committed; or
  • give rise to apprehension for the safety of any persons or property; or
  • show that he has information material to any police inquiry

It is a summary only offence carrying a maximum penalty of six months' imprisonment and/or a fine.

Examples of the type of conduct which may attract a charge of wasting police time include:

  • false reports that a crime has been committed, which initiates a police investigation
  • the giving of false information to the police during the course of an existing investigation

If you have been charged with any form of perverting the course of justice, contact us now to speak to one of our specialist criminal defence solicitors.

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Our lawyers offer legal advice and representation at court or the police station on a private or legal aid basis. Legal aid is available in some areas of law only. Please see our pages on legal aid for more advice. We offer a free initial consultation in some areas of law. Personal Injury compensation claims can be conducted on a 'no win no fee' basis.