Perverting the course of justice is an indictable offence that carries severe penalties.
A perverting the course of justice offence is defined as any attempt to obstruct or prevent the administration of public justice in NSW.
This can be done in a number of different ways, and includes acts such as making false statements to the police, destroying or concealing evidence, and using a false instrument to pervert he course of justice.
What are the penalties for perverting the course of justice?
The penalty you face if found guilty will depend on the exact nature of the offence. If you are found guilty of threatening or intimidating witnesses, you face up to seven years in prison.
Other offences, such as concealing from police that you knew or suspected that someone else had committed a serious indictable offence, carry less severe penalties.
If you are found guilty of this offence, you face a maximum of two years imprisonment.
More serious offences, such as using a false instrument to pervert the course of justice come with higher penalties.
Using a false instrument means creating a false official document, or a copy of one, which is used to deceive, or prevent the administration of justice.
If you are found guilty of this offence, you face up to 14 years in prison.
The penalties are serious, so if you have been charged with an offence of perverting the course of justice, it is a good idea to speak to an experienced criminal lawyer to find out about the possible penalty you face, and get some expert legal advice on your case.
Are there any other penalties apart from imprisonment?
If you are found guilty of perverting the course of justice, there are a number of other possible penalties, including a section 10 dismissal, conditional release order, community correction order or intensive correction order.
Your criminal lawyer will be able to advise you as to the possibility of receiving a less harsh penalty.
What does the prosecution need to prove?
For you to be found guilty of perverting the course of justice, the prosecution needs to prove that you committed the act knowingly, and that it was done with intent.
If you made a genuine mistake, or didn’t intend to obstruct or prevent the administration of justice, and you have evidence to support this, a top criminal lawyer may be able to successfully defend you in court.
What should I do if I have been charged with this offence?
If you are facing charges of perverting the course of justice, particularly on the serious side, such as using a false instrument, make sure you have experienced legal representation to help you defend the case.
If you wish to plead guilty, it is possible in some cases to successfully obtain a section 10 dismissal or conditional release order for this offence, which would allow you to escape a criminal conviction and the resulting penalty.
Your defence lawyer can advise you on your chances of obtaining a non-conviction order.
Make sure you seek expert legal advice before you plead guilty to this offence, as the penalties can be serious and lead to a lifelong criminal conviction.
With the right defence lawyer, you may be able to have the charge dropped or successfully defend the case, or if you wish to plead guilty to obtain a section 10 and avoid a criminal conviction.