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Perverting the Course of Justice (Public Justice Offences)

Perverting the Course of Justice is a criminal offence which is defined as “the act of doing something which interferes with the justice system, such as fabricating or disposing of evidence, intimidating or threatening a witness or juror, intimidating or threatening a judge”.

If you are arrested or charged with Perverting the course of Justice you should ask for a Solicitor at the earliest opportunity. We recommend that you say nothing to the Police until you have spoken directly with us. Our 24 hour number is 07850 012 366.

Advice at a Police Station is always free of charge and will be paid for by Legal Aid. This does not depend on your financial circumstances.

This page outlines some of the offences which are classified as Public Justice Offences.

Perverting the course of justice is the terms which broadly describes a number of different crimes.

Perverting the course of justice is a serious offence and carries a maximum sentence of life imprisonment. The offence is committed where a person:

  • does an act (a positive act or series of acts is required; mere inaction is insufficient)
  • which has a tendency to pervert and
  • which is intended to pervert
  • the course of public justice.


Perjury is the willful act of swearing a false oath or falsifying the truth, either verbally or in writing. The crime of perjury is committed when:

  • a lawfully sworn witness or interpreter
  • in judicial proceedings
  • wilfully makes a false statement
  • which he knows to be false or does not believe to be true, and
  • which is material in the proceedings.

Perjury carries a maximum penalty of 7 years imprisonment and/or a fine. Perjury is regarded by the as one of the most serious offences because it is said to wholly undermine the basis of the administration of justice. Critically, it is regarded as being just as serious whether it is committed in a minor case, such as a car passenger who falsely states that the driver did not jump a red light as alleged, or a serious case, such as a false alibi witness in a bank robbery case.

Intimidation of Witnesses / Jurors

Intimidation is defined as:
A person commits an offence when doing to another person:

  • an act which intimidates, and is intended to intimidate, that other person;
  • knowing or believing the other person is assisting in the investigation of an offence or is a witness/potential witness or a juror/potential juror in proceedings for an offence;
  • intending thereby to cause the investigation or course of justice to be obstructed, perverted or interfered with.

Obstructing a Police officer

A person obstructs a constable if he prevents him from carrying out his duties or makes it more difficult for him to do so.

The obstruction must be 'wilful', meaning the accused must act (or refuse to act) deliberately; knowing and intending his act will obstruct the constable.

The offence of obstructing a Police officer is committed when a person:

  • wilfully obstructs
  • a constable in the execution of his duty, or
  • a person assisting a constable in the execution of the constable's duty.

It carries a maximum penalty of 1 month's imprisonment and/or a fine.
Some examples of actions which may constitute the offence of obstructing a Police officer include:

  • giving a warning to other motorists of a Police speed trap ahead;
  • a witness giving a false name and address;
  • a partner who falsely claims that he/she was driving at the time of the accident but relents before the breathalyser procedure is undertaken;
  • warning a landlord that the Police are to investigate after hours drinking;
  • warning that a Police search of premises is to occur;
  • a motorist or 'shoplifter' who persists in giving a false name and address;
  • an occupier inhibiting the proper execution of a search warrant
  • refusing to admit Police constables into a house when there is a right of entry under the road Traffic Act 1988 (arrest for driving etc while unfit through drink or drugs).

Wasting Police time

Wasting Police time is committed when a person:

  • causes any wasteful employment of the Police by
  • knowingly making to any person a false report orally or in writing tending to:
  • show that an offence has been committed; or,
  • give rise to apprehension for the safety of any persons or property; or,
  • show that he has information material to any Police inquiry.

If you have been charged with any of the above crimes, contact us now to get legal advice.

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