Perverting the Course of Justice Criminal Defence Lawyers
If you do any act or omission that is intended to stop justice from being served on yourself or another person, you could be charged with perverting the course of justice.
Perverting the course of justice is an offence that the courts take very seriously. That’s because it is considered to undermine the entire judicial system. Examples of perverting the course of justice include lying to authorities during an investigation, misleading a court with false evidence, tampering with or destroying evidence, intimidating a witness, and bribing a police officer.
Many may seem trivial acts at the time of doing, others may have been done without the knowledge that judicial proceedings were underway or without the intent to pervert the course of justice. These facts can be used to build a defence for your case.
If you have been charged with perverting the course of justice, the prosecution must prove beyond reasonable doubt that you not only committed an act or an omission, but that you intended to pervert the course of justice in so doing. The act of perverting the course of justice alone is not enough to be guilty of this offence. The liability of the accused is dependent also on their intention.
Australian Criminal Law Group are the experts at defending charges of Perverting the course of justice. We can help you beat charges or if you decide to plead guilty, get you the best result possible.
What is the offence of Perverting the Course of Justice?
Section 319 of The Crimes Act 1900 deals with the offence of perverting the course of justice. This falls under part 7 of the crimes act 1900 “Public Justice Offences” and Division 2 which includes offences relating to the interference in the administration of justice.
It states that:
“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.
Section 312 defines Perverting the course of justice as:
“obstructing, perverting, preventing or defeating the course of justice or the administration of the law”
Pleading Not Guilty to Perverting the Course of Justice
To be found guilty of perverting the course of justice, the prosecution must prove beyond reasonable doubt that:
- You committed an act or made an omission and
- The act or omission was committed with the intention of perverting the course of justice
You do not need to benefit personally for this offence to have been committed. This includes interfering with justice being served on yourself or another person.
For this offence to be committed you also don’t need to have been successful in your attempt to interfere with justice being served. If it can be proven beyond reasonable doubt that you intended to pervert the course of justice, then you will be found guilty of this offence.
Possible defences for perverting the course of justice
An experienced criminal lawyer will help you decide the best course of action based on the defences available to you.
The first defence is that the act or omission, or envisaged act or omission, does not amount to something that would obstruct, pervert, prevent or defeat the course of justice or the administration of the law.
The second defence is that even if there was an act that perverted the course of justice, the act was committed without any intention to do so. This is because perverting the course of justice is a “specific intent offence”. That means that to be found guilty of this offence, it is not enough to have perverted the course of justice. The prosecution must be able to prove beyond reasonable doubt that you acted with “an intention to cause a specific result”. Having no intention to pervert the course of justice is, therefore, a defence to this offence.
Another defence is that at the time of the act or omission, there was no police investigation underway and judicial proceedings were not imminent, or you were unaware that a police investigation was underway and judicial proceedings were imminent.
Finally, duress, which is where fear for your safety caused you to act in a certain way, may provide a defence against perverting the course of justice. A common example is where one spouse, in a domestic violence relationship, threatens the other spouse to do any act or omission in order to beat a criminal charge themselves.
If you committed the offence and the prosecution can prove your guilt, it is recommended that you plead guilty to charges brought against you. This demonstrates to the court that you have accepted the charges and that what you did was wrong. It also shows remorse for your actions. As such, pleading guilty early in a case normally always results in a more lenient sentence. You will also be entitled to a 25% discount on any sentence imposed.
It is always best to seek legal advice before deciding how to plead. A good criminal lawyer will be able to assess your case and help you make that decision.
The criminal law team at the Australian Criminal Law Group are experienced in getting the best results for guilty pleas for this offence.
Penalties for Perverting the Course of Justice?
If you are found guilty or plead guilty to Perverting the Course of Justice, the maximum sentence a court can impose is 14 years imprisonment. However, such a penalty would typically be reserved for the worse examples of this kind of offence or by people with criminal records for similar offences.
There are several alternate penalties available to the court for this offence that a good defence lawyer will fight for. Alternate penalties include:
- Section 10: No convictions
- Conditional Release Order
- Community Corrections Order
- Intensive Corrections Orders
If you’ve been charged with this offence, give us a call to book an appointment with one of our experienced defence lawyers.
Australian Criminal Law Group
Get in contact with the Australian Criminal Law Group immediately if you have been charged with perverting the course of justice. A good defence lawyer could be the difference between imprisonment or walking away with a section 10 no conviction.
Our defence lawyers have experience in representing clients facing charges of this offence and we fight to get the best results in court every time.
The Crimes Act 1900 No 40, Part 7 Division 2, Section 319, Current version for 1 June 2022 to date (accessed 5 June 2022 at 1:46), https://legislation.nsw.gov.au/view/html/inforce/current/act-1900-040
This information is intended as a general guide to law only. It should not be relied on as legal advice and it is recommended that you speak with a qualified lawyer about your situation.
Australian Criminal Law Group and its suppliers make every reasonable effort to ensure the accuracy and validity of the information provided on its web pages. At the time of updating, this information was correct, however, given the laws in NSW and Australia are continually changing, the Australian Criminal Law Group makes no warranties or representations as to its accuracy.