In the UK, recent statistics show the police charge an estimated 2,200 people annually for perverting the course of justice. As a result, we have explained everything you need to know about the offence, the likely punishments of being found guilty, and how a lawyer can help to defend against this type of offence.
What does perverting the course of justice mean?
Put simply, perverting the course of justice is whereby a person prevents themselves or others from being served justice.
Please note, perverting the course of justice is categorised by the law as a summary offence. This means that it is one of the most serious types of offences and can only be dealt with by the Crown Court in front of a judge and jury.
For more information regarding summary offences please see our blog titled “summary offences: what is a summary offence?“.
Common examples of perverting the course of justice
Providing the police with false driver details
One of the most common ways individuals commit perverting the course of justice is by providing false information to the police when they’re stopped on the roadside for speeding.
David has decided to drive to meet his distant cousin. Whilst driving to his house, he is pulled over by the police for speeding. David know’s he currently has 9 points on his license. Therefore, in the hope to dodge a ticket he provides the police with the details of his brother, who of which is also registered on the insurance.
Concealing or destroying evidence concerning a police investigation to avoid arrest is another common way people commit the offence perverting the course of justice.
Robert passes by his local park and sees that the police have arrested his friend for criminal damage. Roberts sees the wall his friend has defaced with graffiti. In the hope to get his friend out of trouble, he quickly takes the spray paint from his friend and conceals it in his bag without the police being aware.
Making false statements to the police:
One of the other most common reasons people break the offence perverting the course of justice is by making false reports to the police. Typically, individuals submit incorrect information in the hope they can avoid being prosecuted by the police.
Lucy invited her friend Alice over to her house for dinner. Upon arrival, Lucy found out Alice had been drinking driving and that the police were chasing her. When the police arrived at Lucy’s house, she gave false information stating that she didn’t know Alice’s whereabouts.
Have you been accused of perverting the course of justice? Just give us a quick call on 020 3795 9020.
What is the maximum sentence for perverting the course of justice?
Perverting the court of justice is a serious offence that the court considers as an indictable offence. An indictable offence is one of the most severe types of offences.
Most commonly punishments for perverting the course of justice include:
- 4-36 month prison sentence
- A fine
- Community service
The maximum prison sentence for perverting the court of justice is life imprisonment
Please note, the punishment for perverting the course of justice varies depending on the severity of the matter. Therefore, it is always best to seek legal advice when facing prosecution as a lawyer can advise you of your legal position.
What does the prosecutor need to prove in a case regarding perverting the course of justice?
A prosecutor has to prove beyond reasonable doubt that a criminal has perverted the course of justice. Please note that a criminal does not have to impact a criminal case for the court to charge him with the offence. The prosecutor only has to demonstrate that the act has taken place and prove how it could have potentially impacted the case.
What circumstances can defend against perverting the course of justice?
A lawyer can use various defences to defend against this type of prosecution. Some of the most common include:
- Genuine mistake or error
- Lack of evidence
If the police have accused you of perverting the course of justice and want to know you have a possible defence, get in touch. We can connect you to a lawyer who can evaluate the evidence at hand and advise if you have a viable defence.
Is perverting the course of justice the same as wasting police time?
In short, no.
Wasting police time is a separate offence that carries a lesser punishment. Wasting police time constitutes anything that causes any wasteful employment of the police, whether concerning a criminal case or not.
Please note, wasting police time carries a maximum sentence of six months imprisonment.
Is perjury the same as perverting the course of justice?
Put simply, yes.
Perjury is when a witness of a legal proceeding knowingly makes a false statement that may affect the overall outcome of the case. Therefore, the court categorises perjury as a form of perverting the course of justice.
The maximum sentence you can expect to receive for perjury is seven years imprisonment.
How can a lawyer help if the police accuse you of perverting the course of justice?
If the police have accused you of perverting the course of justice, you should seek legal advice from a specialist criminal defence lawyer. Please note that it is essential to act fast when facing a charge for this type of offence. If you are to attend police questioning without the assistance of a lawyer, you may incriminate yourself.
A criminal defence lawyer can provide you with the following:
- Representation during questioning.
- Provide you with advice on whether you should take a plea.
- Evaluate the evidence for and against you.
- Provide you with court representation.
- Analyse the strength or discrepancies within the evidence submitted.
How can LGBT Lawyers help?
Here at LGBT Lawyers, we can connect you to a specialist criminal defence lawyer who specialises in the law surrounding perverting the course of justice.
We can ensure that you will have a criminal defence lawyer on your side every step of the way to help build your case as watertight as possible. The law surrounding this offence is very complex and varies heavily in punishments. Therefore, we never advise attempting to resolve the legal matter by yourself.
Please note, even in the case where you decide to plead guilty, you’ll still need to consult with a defence lawyer to ensure that you are compliant with the correct statutory procedure.