Legal proceedings are daunting, and the experience becomes even more stressful when allegations of perverting the course of justice are involved. This offence attracts serious penalties, in many cases imprisonment, so it is important that you get the right kind of advice at the earliest stage possible. Stephen Lickrish & Associates will provide a well-prepared, strong defence to any allegations of perverting the court of justice or witness intimidation. We skilfully apply our extensive experience in criminal defence cases to ensure you achieve the best outcome possible. Contact us for advice and representation today.
The Law on Perverting the Course of Justice and Witness Intimidation in England and Wales
The first thing to know is that witness intimidation and perverting the course of justice are not necessarily separate offences. Witness intimidation is one of a number of acts that could lead to a charge of perverting the course of justice, although there is also a standalone statutory offence of intimidating witnesses in criminal proceedings (section 51 of the Criminal Justice and Public Order Act 1994).
Intimidating witnesses in criminal proceedings
There are two offences under section 51 of the Criminal Justice and Public Order Act 1994 which relate to intimidating witnesses. The first, under section 51(1), is the offence of intimidating a witness or juror. This offence involves:
Acting in a way which intimidates (and is intended to intimidate) another person in the knowledge or belief that this person is taking part or potentially taking part in an investigation or proceedings for a criminal offence, whether as a witness or a juror, with the intention to pervert or otherwise interfere with the course of justice in those proceedings.
The second, under section 51(2) is harming someone who has assisted in a criminal investigation or proceedings. This includes people who have assisted the police, given evidence or acted as jurors. It is defined as:
Harming or threatening to harm another person, or causing them to fear harm, because of the role you know or believe them to have played in a criminal investigation or proceedings.
Both offences can be charged in either the Magistrates’ Court, in which case the maximum penalty will be 6 months’ imprisonment and/or a fine, or in the Crown Court, where the maximum penalty is five months’ imprisonment and/or a fine.
Perverting the course of justice
In England and Wales, perverting the course of justice is a common law offence. This means that there is no specific law that sets down everything you need to know about the offence, and instead it has been developed over time through many court cases. The components of the offence are:
A person performs an act or a series of acts that pervert or are likely to pervert the course of justice. That person has the intention to pervert the course of justice by doing so.
Examples of perverting the court of justice include:
- making a deliberately false statement to the court;
- tampering with evidence;
- making false allegations; and
- intimidating witnesses.
The maximum penalty for perverting the course of justice is a fine and/or life imprisonment. With the possibility of such serious penalties, competent and professional legal advice is a must.
Advice on Witness Intimidation and Perverting the Court of Justice in England and Wales
If you have been charged with perverting the court of justice, please contact us for expert advice without delay. Our high calibre criminal lawyers will assess the evidence thoroughly and identify any possible defences, including where false information was given accidentally or under duress.
With us, you can be certain that the complex legal issues involved in allegations of this nature will be navigated smoothly. We will support you and answer any questions you or your loved ones may have in a clear, compassionate way.
If cost is a concern, we can help you apply for Legal Aid. Money does not have to be a barrier to getting the representation you deserve.
Contact our Witness Intimidation and Perverting the Course of Justice Lawyers in Manchester
Speak to us during office hours on 0161 237 1913 or email us at email@example.com. For urgent advice and assistance, please contact our 24 hour freephone helpline at 0800 988 64 22.