Interfering with the administration of justice

administration of justice
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Under Part 7 of the Crimes Act 1900 (NSW) (‘the Act’) there are a number of offences relating to interfering with the administration of justice. Divisions 2 and 3 of Part 7 deal with interfering with the administration of justice, including making false accusations, hindering investigations,  attempting to influence witnesses, judges and jurors or tampering with evidence.

 

Perverting the administration of justice

‘Perverting the course of justice’ is defined by section 312 as obstructing, preventing, perverting or defeating the course of justice or the administration of the law.

 

It is an offence under section 319 of the Act to do any act, or make any omission, with intent to pervert the course of justice. This can include:

  • Attempting to bribe a police or judicial officer to avoid being prosecuted or punished;
  • Falsely swearing or declaring that another person was responsible for an offence;
  • Using another’s phone or email to manufacture a defence to a crime;
  • Encouraging or bribing another person to plead guilty to a crime they did not commit, or to provide a false alibi, or give false testimony in court.

 

The maximum penalty for ‘perverting the course of justice’ is 14 years in prison.

 

Making false accusations and the administration of justice

Section 314 of the Act makes it an offence for a person to make an accusation intending to subject another person to an investigation for an offence, knowing the other person is innocent.

 

For a person to be found guilty, the prosecution must prove each of the following elements beyond reasonable doubt:

  • The defendant made an accusation against another person;
  • The accusation was made with the intention of having another person investigated for an offence;
  • The accusation was, in fact, false; and
  • The defendant knew the other person was innocent.

 

This offence carries a maximum penalty of seven years imprisonment.

 

Hindering investigations and the administration of justice

Per Section 315 of the Act, it is an offence to hinder, in any way the investigation, discovery of evidence or apprehension of the offender in respect of a serious indictable offence, committed by another person.

 

A ‘serious indictable offence’ is one which carries a maximum penalty at least five years imprisonment.

 

Under this section, it is not an offence to refuse or fail to divulge information or produce evidence.

 

This offence carries a maximum penalty of 7 years imprisonment.

 

Interfering with witnesses or victims

Section 315A makes it an offence to threaten someone with injury or detriment or to actually cause it, intending to influence the other person not to bring material information about an indictable offence to the attention of police or another appropriate authority.

 

‘Material information’ is defined by the Act as that which might lead to the arrest of a person, or their prosecution or conviction.

 

An indictable offence is one which can be tried in a higher court, such as the District Court. It typically attracts a maximum prison sentence of more than two years.

 

This carries a maximum penalty of 7 years imprisonment.

 

Tampering with evidence

Per Section 317, it is an offence to intentionally mislead any court or tribunal by:

  • Suppressing, concealing, destroying, altering or falsifying anything that is or may be required as evidence;
  • Fabricating false evidence (other than by perjury); or
  • Knowingly making use of fabricated evidence.

 

The maximum penalty that can be imposed is 10 years imprisonment.

 

Threatening or intimidating witnesses, jurors or judges

Section 322 makes it an offence to threaten or actually cause any injury or detriment intending to influence:

  • A witness to give false evidence, withhold evidence, not attend court or not produce evidence pursuant to a subpoena or summons;
  • A juror’s conduct in their capacity as a juror, or not to attend court; or
  • A judicial officer’s conduct in their capacity as such.

 

The maximum penalty that can be imposed is 10 years imprisonment.

However, this can be increased to 14 years where the offence involves an intention to procure the conviction or acquittal of a defendant charged with a serious indictable offence.

 

If you or someone you know needs legal advice or representation for a criminal law matter, contact the team at Hamilton Janke Lawyers 24/7 by calling 4038 1666.

 

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