What is perverting the course of justice?

16th Dec 2015

CATEGORY: Criminal

1 answer
  • Perverting the course of justice refers to a number of actions that a person might take to interfere with the administration of UK justice. To be guilty of perverting the course of justice, the individual must have made a positive action - inaction does not count as a crime in this instance.

    There are three acts that are considered to be applicable to the crime of perverting the course of justice. They are:

    • Intimidating or threatening a case witness or jury member
    • Intimidating or threatening a judge
    • Disposing of or tampering with evidence

    Intimidating behaviour is considered to be making threatening suggestions or actions to a person. These can be threats of harming a person including physical and financial harm. This can be the case whether a person aims to deter a person from reporting a crime or being a witness in a case.

    Tampering with evidence or disposing of evidence is a severe crime as evidence plays such a vital role in the ability to prosecute or defend in a case. This point refers to the full disposal of evidence, hiding of evidence or amending evidence to make it less valuable in court proceedings.

    The punishments for perverting the course of justice are severe. The Crown Prosecution service recommends a minimum sentence of at least 4 months by way of punishing acts in this area. In theory, the maximum sentence that can be given for perverting the course of justice is a lifetime sentence, though the maximum sentence that has been passed, albeit on numerous instances, is a 10 year prison sentence.

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