Clarity Law

Specialist Criminal Law Firm Queensland
Thursday, 15 February 2024 18:54

Attempting to pervert the course of justice

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Attempting to pervert the course of justice

Attempting to pervert the course of justice is a serious criminal charge in Queensland that occurs in circumstances where a person attempts to stop justice being served on themselves or even another person by their conduct.

What does the law say?

Section 140 of the Criminal Code 1899 states that:

(1)   A person who attempts to obstruct, prevent, pervert, or defeat the course of justice is guilty of a crime.

Maximum penalty—7 years imprisonment.

 

What do the prosecution need to prove for this offence?

The prosecution must prove beyond a reasonable doubt the following, in order to succeed in a prosecution for this offence:

  1. The defendant;

  2. Through their actions or conduct did something that has a real risk of justice being perverted or an injustice occurring; and

  3. The defendant intended for the outcome of their actions to have the effect of stopping justice being done.

It is important to note, that the defendants conduct does not need to be successful in perverting justice, just that their actions had a real risk of that occurring.

 

Are there any defences?

At law, there are a wide range of defences to criminal charges, however not every defence is available to every charge. Examination of available defences depends on the context of the alleged offending, some examples that may be available are:

  • Duress;

  • Identity;

  • Intention – Where the prosecution cannot prove the defendant intended to pervert the course of justice; and

  • Honest and reasonable mistake of fact.

 

What court will hear my case?

This matter, like all criminal matters will start in the Magistrates Court of the jurisdiction where the offence occurred. This offence however, must be committed (see our article on committal process here), to the District Court of Queensland.

 

What does this charge look like?

Perverting the course of justice is a very broad charge, and ultimately could come in many different forms. Below are a few examples of how this charge may come about:

Example 1

Jill is in being held on remand, awaiting trial in the Supreme Court for a series of domestic violence matters against her partner Jack. Jill, struggling to deal with being inside the correctional facility reaches out to her sister – who can still contact Jack – to ask her to have Jack recant his statement of events to try and have the charges dropped. Jills’ sister refuses do as Jill has asked, and tells Jill that she wont do it.

Jills phone call is monitored and recorded, and subsequently sent to police who make the decision to charge her with attempting to pervert the course of justice.

In the event that Jane contacts Jack to tell him how much Jill is struggling, how sorry she is and how much she needs to get out. Jack calls the police and reports that his has occurred.

The police now have grounds to charge Jane with an offence of attempting to pervert the course of justice.

 

Example 2

Ryan is caught by police with cannabis on his person. Ryan is arrested, given watchhouse bail and a notice to appear date. Ryan decides to go make a script for cannabis and enters negotiations with police, however it is discovered that he his script is a forgery and he is subsequently charged with a fraud offence, and an attempt to pervert the course of justice offence.

The above are not the exhaustive list of ways this offence can arise. All to commonly this offence arises out of circumstances where an offender tries to have a victim change or withdraw their statement and inevitably are caught then charged with a very serious offence.

 

Usual Penalties

Given that this is a strictly indictable offence (meaning it must be heard before a Judge of the District Court), this offence carries some very severe maximum penalties, depending on circumstances of aggravation.

A review of the sentencing statistics between 2005 and 2018 show that approximately 52% of offenders in Queensland received a term of actual imprisonment. However, this does not factor the difference between the more serious circumstances of the offending. Community Based Orders and suspended sentences are available options. (Russell Tannock of our office has written a comprehensive article on how periods of imprisonment may be served here).

 

Do I need a lawyer?

Do not attempt to represent yourself in the court on an attempting to pervert the course of justice charge.  Even if you are charged with an offence without a circumstance of aggravation it is not advisable to undertake this matter yourself. Based on the seriousness of the offending, including if violence was used then the risk of imprisonment arises, engaging an experienced criminal lawyer will help you get the best available outcome.  If the court records a conviction against you it may affect your ability to travel internationally and to gain employment.

 

Conclusion

This article, is by no means a complete breakdown of the serious offence of attempting to pervert the course of justice. This article serves to give a person an understanding of the offence, illustrating how it may come about. This is not a matter where you should attempt to undertake it yourself. If you require advice about this type of matter, feel free to contact clarity law for an obligation free consultation.

 

Engaging Clarity Law to act for you

Engaging us gives you the best chance at trying to avoid serving time in prison.   We are one of the leading criminal law firms in South East Queensland.  Just some of the benefits of us acting for you include;

1.      we know the judges and what they want to hear to give you the best outcome

2.      we have good relationships with the prosecutors meaning we can often have them not seek an actual prison sentence

3.      we are there to help you through the process and make everything as stress free as possible

4.      engaging us shows the court you are taking your charges seriously

5.      you will be fully informed of what is to happen in court and what this means for you after court

6.      unlike the police or the Judge, we are there to look after you, your privacy and your interests

 

How do I get more information or engage you to act for me? 

If you want to engage us or just need further free information or advice then you can either;

1.      Use our contact form and we will contact you by email or phone at a time that suits you

2.      Call us on 1300 952 255 seven days a week, 7am to 7pm

3.      Click here to select a time for us to have a free 15 minute telephone conference with you

4.      Email the firms founder on This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

5.      Send us a message on Facebook Messenger

6.      Click the help button at the bottom right and leave us a message

We are a no pressure law firm, we are happy to provide free initial information to assist you. If you want to engage us then great, we will give you a fixed price for our services so you will know with certainty what we will cost. All the money goes into a trust account monitored by the Queensland Law Society and cannot be taken out without your permission or until we are legally allowed to.

Read 84 times Last modified on Thursday, 15 February 2024 19:22
Jack Marshall

Jack is a former soldier and now a criminal defence lawyer with Clarity Law. He helps clients navigate the court process and get the best results.