Perverting the course of justice

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What is Perverting the course of justice ?

Perverting the course of justice is an offence committed when a person prevents justice from being served on him/herself or on another party. Allegations involving perjury or perverting the course of justice are extremely serious and need immediate and robust defence.

Some example of perverting the course of justice include

  • Giving a false account of a crime to the police resulting in police wasting time in their investigations;
  • Encouraging or bribing someone to plead guilty to an offence they did not commit;
  • Asking someone to provide a false alibi and/or

A doctor giving a false medical certificate for an adjournment to be obtained in court.

Case law/Jurisdiction

The nature and elements of the offence of perverting the course of justice were considered in R v Manley [1933] 1 KB 529. In this case the appellant had falsely alleged that she had been robbed by a man whose description she gave to the police. It was the description of an imaginary man. She was convicted of unlawfully effecting a public mischief.

The Law

The offence of Perverting the Course of Justice is contained in section 319 of the Crimes Act 1900 (NSW) which states:

A person who does any act, or makes any omission, intending in any way to pervert the course of justice, is liable to imprisonment for 14 years

What must the prosecution prove?

Since perverting the course of justice is a criminal offence, the burden of proof lies on the Prosecution.

The prosecution must prove the Accused’s guilt beyond reasonable doubt.

That is a high standard of proof that the prosecution must achieve before someone can be convicted of perverting the course of justice.

To establish perverting the course of justice the prosecution must prove each of the following matters beyond reasonable doubt:

  • That you did any act or made any omission;

With intent in any way to pervert the course of justice.

If you are charged with the offence of perverting the course of justice what are your options?

National Criminal Lawyers have been successful in defending a number of perverting the course of justice charges where the prosecution could not establish each of the elements of perverting the course of justice. We have also achieved a number of non-convictions for perverting the course of justice charges.

NCL offer the following options for those who have been charged with perverting the course of justice:

  1. We will negotiate with prosecutors (police or DPP) (a term referred to as “plea negotiations”) to request that the charge is withdrawn, downgraded or fact sheets amended;
  2. NCL will Plead Not Guilty and go to hearing/trial and persuade the Court that prosecution has not proven its case beyond reasonable doubt;
  3. Plead guilty to the elements of the charge and then dispute the facts (at a special “disputed facts” hearing) with the view of having you sentenced less harshly; and/or
  4. Plead guilty with full acceptance of the facts as set out by the police and make strong submissions on your behalf requesting that the Court not record a criminal conviction.

Pleading Guilty

If you agree that you have committed the offence and the police are able to prove all the elements of the offence, it is best to plead guilty at an early opportunity to receive the maximum discount. Currently the maximum discount available for an early plea of guilty is 25% of the sentence.

Furthermore, the early guilty plea shows the Court that you have remorse and contrition for your actions.

Our Lawyers at National Criminal Lawyers work closely with you to ensure that we obtain all necessary paper work at increasing the chances of obtaining a non-conviction or section 10.

Maximum Penalties

Perverting the course of justice can be punished with a prison sentence of up to 14 years.

Please note that the penalties mentioned are reserved for the worse case offending and are unlikely to be the penalty you receive.

Pleading Not Guilty

If you decide to plead not guilty you will need to prepare to go to a Defended Hearing.

A defended hearing is where all the witnesses of that case are called to give evidence. The witnesses are both examined by the prosecution and tested by your defence lawyers.

National Criminal Lawyers have defended numerous people charged with Participating in a criminal group and are experts at these hearings.

Defences

Some of the possible defences available for those charged with perverting the course of justice can include:

  • You did not know that there were judicial proceedings on foot or that they were imminent or might occur;
  • That you had no intent to pervert the course of justice in acting the way you did, or in omitting what you did;
  • Duress-If you were compelled to act in a certain way due to the circumstances, or the threats of another you may be able to argue “Duress”;
  • Necessity – If your actions were necessary to prevent a greater harm from occurring, you may have the defence of-Necessity and/or
  • Self-defence – If you were defending yourself or another OR yours or another’s property you may have a Defence of Self-Defence

Statistics

The Courts are not bound by statistics however there must be reasonable consistency in sentences. A Magistrate or Judge should have regard to what has been done in other cases. In Green [2011] HCA 45, the plurity judgement of French CJ, Kiefel and Creennan JJ stated:

“Equal Justice” embodies the norm expressed in the terms “equality before the law”. It is an aspect of the rule of law.

For Perverting the course of justice 75% of offenders received a full-time prison sentence whereas 25% received a suspended prison sentence.

Possible Penalty's

In NSW, a court can impose any of the following penalties for a Participating in a criminal group charge.

  • Prison sentence;
  • Home Detention;
  • Intensive correction order (previously periodic detention);
  • Suspended sentence;
  • Community service order (CSO);
  • Good behaviour bond;
  • Fine;
  • Section 10.

However, from the 24 September 2018 new penalty’s will be replacing the above. They are as follows:

  • Full time Imprisonment;
  • New ICO (ICO) with a home detention condition available;
  • New Community Correction Order (CCO);
  • Fine;
  • New Conditional release Order (CRO).

Case Studies

Our client was in possession of a fishing spear-gun and accidentally shot himself. Police and ambulance were called to the scene, where the client told them that he had been shot with a spear-gun by an unknown person. He then signed a sworn statement to this effect, which triggered a police investigation. Eventually it was revealed that there was no shooter and the client had fabricated the story. He was charged with perverting the course of justice. After lengthy negotiations with the Prosecution, a plea deal was struck whereby the client would plead guilty to making a false report to police and the prosecution withdrew the more serious perverting course of justice charge.

Why National Criminal Lawyers?

There are three reasons to choose National Criminal Lawyers:

1. We get the results

We are the experts in either beating or having criminal charges withdrawn AND/OR obtaining the least restrictive penalty available. This is because no matter which option you choose within our tailored Options at Law you will be dealing with experienced criminal lawyers who can make sure the evidence is not only obtained properly but also that your case is prepared and presented to the highest best practice standards possible. This is also done without breaking your pocket.

2. We give a Senior Defence Lawyer guarantee

No matter which option at law you choose, National Criminal Lawyers can guarantee that a Senior Defence Lawyer will represent you. This means that with our over 25 years of Combined criminal law experience you will get the best result possible.

3. National Criminal Lawyers are the best defenders of your rights

At National Criminal Lawyers we know that Criminal Law is a matter of Human Rights. For this reason, we take pride and passion in representing our clients. This pride and passion to assist those charged with an alleged or actual breach of the criminal law is to us a matter of righteous necessity and in that sense, you can always rest assured that National Criminal Lawyers are the best defenders of your rights. This true not only when the police have just simply got it wrong OR if they have got it right then we can speak with you and make sure you get you the best result available.

If you have been charged with any perverting the course of justice offence our Team at National Criminal Lawyers are well versed and specialists in having charges either withdrawn and otherwise achieving favourable outcomes.

Please contact our office on 02 9893 1889 or visit www.nationalcriminallawyers.com.au for more information about your options.

Book your first free appointment with National Criminal lawyers now.
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