What is “Perverting the Course of Justice” & “Failure to Provide Information”?
Although perverting the course of justice is not strictly classified as a motoring offence, if you fail to provide true, correct information to the police in relation to a motoring offence you can be found guilty of perverting the course of justice. This can have serious consequences.
The law defines perverting the course of justice 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’.
Perverting the course of justice is a serious criminal offence that can only be dealt with at the crown court. The offence carries a maximum penalty of life imprisonment. In cases relating to driving offences, a 12 month prison sentence is considered by the courts to be more appropriate.
Perverting the course of justice – examples
Incidents relating to motoring offences which involve a driver perverting – or allegedly perverting – the course of justice include:
- A person falsely claiming to be the driver at the time of an offence
- A driver falsely denying being the behind the wheel at the time of an offence
- Taking penalty points on behalf of another driver
- Concealing a driving offence
- Obstructing the police in their investigation of an driving offence
- Assisting a person to evade arrest in relation to a driving offence
- Attempting to persuade or intimidate witnesses
- Interfering with the process of a trial
What rights do you have if accused of perverting the course of justice?
If you are accused of perverting the course of justice you are within your rights to:
- Make no comment during an official police interview or voluntary interview
- Refuse to be interviewed as a suspect for the offence without a specialist solicitor being present
- Delay an interview until the arrival of a specialist road traffic offence solicitor
- If you dispute the allegation to plead not guilty to the offence
- Require additional information or clarification before you comment or make a decision on your plea at court
What to do if you are accused of perverting the course of justice
If you have been accused of perverting the course of justice in relation to a motoring offence it is vital that you seek expert legal advice from a suitably experienced motoring defence solicitor as soon as you are able.
Specialist advice and representation can help you negotiate the police interview process while ensuring that you do not say anything to your disadvantage.
What if it has been a misunderstanding?
In many cases, the police have believed that they have strong grounds for prosecuting a person for perverting the course of justice only to later discover that there has been a misunderstanding. Without expert legal advice it is possible that those in this situation may have found themselves unfairly prosecuted for an offence they did not commit.
In other cases, an alternative charge of obstructing the police may be a better option for a defendant. This charge is not usually met with a custodial sentence. It is dealt with by the magistrates court and may be punished with only a fine.
Similarly, a charge of wasting police time may also be preferable. This charge is usually punished with a fixed penalty notice of £60.
If a person is found to have committed an act or behaved in such a way that it was their intention that justice might have been avoided either for themselves or for someone else, they are liable to be found guilty of perverting the course of justice.
I provided a false statement — what will happen?
There are often cases where a person may be accused of perverting the course of justice because false statements have been made to the police in an investigation. Such an example is a driver receiving a Section 172 Notice asking them to identify whether they were the driver of the vehicle at a specific time when it is thought that an offence may have been committed. Providing false information is sometimes known as perverting the course of justice driving offence. The police can also consider charges under the Perjury Act for providing false or misleading information in relation to a traffic offence.
Perverting the course of justice as a first offence is still very serious and expert legal advice is essential from the outset – at both the police station and at court.
For immediate assistance and help with your case, contact our expert team.
See below for a list of case studies relating to defending clients accused of perverting the course of justice:
How many years do you get for perverting the course of justice?
The Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) sentencing guidelines recommend a prison sentence of between four and 36 months for perverting the course of justice. The maximum possible sentence would be life imprisonment and/or a fine.
Is perjury the same as perverting the course of justice?
Perjury is the offence of wilfully lying or making a misrepresentation under oath. It is common for an offence of perjury to pervert the course of justice. However, if the perjury is a solo offence the charge will be perjury alone.
Can you go to prison for wasting police time?
Yes. Up to six months imprisonment and a fine can be issued if it is proven that a person has deliberately been wasting police time. The offender will usually avoid criminal conviction with a fixed penalty notice and a £60 fine.