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Perverting the course of justice

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Title: Perverting the course of justice  
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Subject: English criminal law, Wearside Jack, Koby Abberton, Soham murders, Marital coercion
Collection: Abuse of the Legal System, Common Law Offences in England and Wales, Crimes, Deception, English Criminal Law, Perverting the Course of Justice
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Perverting the course of justice

Perverting the course of justice is a criminal offence in England and Wales. The offence is committed when a person prevents justice from being served on him/herself or on another party. It is a common law offence, carrying a maximum sentence of life imprisonment.

Statutory versions of the offence exist in Australia, Canada, Hong Kong, Ireland and New Zealand.

Contents

  • England and Wales 1
  • Canada 2
  • Australia 3
  • Notable convictions 4
  • See also 5
  • References 6
  • References 7

England and Wales

Doing an act tending and intending to pervert the course of public justice[1] is an offence under the common law of England and Wales.

Perverting the course of justice can be any of three acts:

Also criminal are:

  1. conspiring with another to pervert the course of justice, and
  2. intending to pervert the course of justice.

This offence, and the subject matter of the related forms of criminal conspiracy, has been referred to as:

  • Perverting the course of justice
  • Interfering with the administration of justice
  • Obstructing the administration of justice
  • Obstructing the course of justice
  • Defeating the due course of justice
  • Defeating the ends of justice
  • Effecting a public mischief[2]

This proliferation of alternative names is "somewhat confusing".[3]

This offence is also sometimes referred to as "attempting to pervert the course of justice". This is potentially misleading. An attempt to pervert the course of justice is a substantive common law offence and not an inchoate offence. It is not a form of the offence of attempt and it would be erroneous to charge it as being contrary to section 1(1) of the Criminal Attempts Act 1981.[4]

This offence is triable only on indictment.[5]

Canada

In Canada, the equivalent offence is referred to as "obstructing justice." It is set out s 139 of the Criminal Code:

139. (1) Every one who wilfully attempts in any manner to obstruct, pervert or defeat the course of justice in a judicial proceeding,
(a) by indemnifying or agreeing to indemnify a surety, in any way and either in whole or in part, or
(b) where he is a surety, by accepting or agreeing to accept a fee or any form of indemnity whether in whole or in part from or in respect of a person who is released or is to be released from custody,
is guilty of
(c) an indictable offence and is liable to imprisonment for a term not exceeding two years, or
(d) an offence punishable on summary conviction.
(2) Every one who wilfully attempts in any manner other than a manner described in subsection (1) to obstruct, pervert or defeat the course of justice is guilty of an indictable offence and liable to imprisonment for a term not exceeding ten years. (3) Without restricting the generality of subsection (2), every one shall be deemed wilfully to attempt to obstruct, pervert or defeat the course of justice who in a judicial proceeding, existing or proposed,
(a) dissuades or attempts to dissuade a person by threats, bribes or other corrupt means from giving evidence;
(b) influences or attempts to influence by threats, bribes or other corrupt means a person in his conduct as a juror; or
(c) accepts or obtains, agrees to accept or attempts to obtain a bribe or other corrupt consideration to abstain from giving evidence, or to do or to refrain from doing anything as a juror.[6]

Australia

In New South Wales, the equivalent offence is set out in section 319 of the Crimes Act 1900 (NSW).[7] The maximum penalty is 14 years' imprisonment.

Notable convictions

See also

References

  1. ^ This name is used in the statement of offence in the form of indictment approved in R v Williams (K J) 92 Cr App R 158, [1991] Crim LR 205, CA
  2. ^ The Law Commission. Criminal Law: Offences relating to the Administration of Justice. Working Paper No 62. HMSO. 1975. Paragraph 10 at page 6.
  3. ^ Archbold Criminal Pleading, Evidence and Practice. 1999. Paragraph 28-23 at page 2261.
  4. ^ R v Williams (K J) 92 Cr App R 158, [1991] Crim LR 205, CA
  5. ^ "Perverting the Course of Justice. Sentencing Manual. Crown Prosecution Service.
  6. ^ RSC 1985, c C-46, s 139Criminal Code
  7. ^ "CRIMES ACT 1900 - SECT 319 General offence of perverting the course of justice". Austlii.edu.au. Retrieved 2012-02-04. 
  8. ^ "Aitken jailed for 18 months".  
  9. ^ White, Michael (20 July 2001). "Political chancer with lots of fizz".  
  10. ^  
  11. ^  
  12. ^ "Ali Dizaei: Met Police commander jailed for corruption".  
  13. ^ R v Einfeld, 2009 NSWSC 119.
  14. ^ Davies, Caroline; Addley, Esther (4 February 2013). "Chris Huhne facing jail sentence after admitting perverting course of justice". The Guardian. Retrieved 20 February 2013. 
  15. ^ "Vicky Pryce guilty over Chris Huhne speeding points".  
  16. ^ "Man admits 'Ripper' hoax charges".  
  17. ^ "Account of Hyman´s conviction".  
  18. ^ "Shannon Matthews' mother guilty of kidnapping own daughter". The Guardian. 4 December 2008. Retrieved 15 August 2012. 
  19. ^ Galligan, Brian (2012). "Murphy, Lionel Keith (1922–1986)" (hardcopy).  

References

  • Perjury and Perversion of the Course of Justice Considered (PDF), a primer on the legal details of the offence
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