Perverting the Course of Justice

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This article was written by Michelle Makela - Legal Practice Director

Michelle has over 15 years experience in the legal industry, working across commercial litigation, criminal law, family law and estate planning.  Michelle has been involved in all practice areas of the firm and in her personal practice has had experience in litigation at all levels (State and Federal Industrial Tribunals, the Supreme Court, Court of Appeal, the Federal Court, Federal...

Perverting the Course of Justice (NSW)


In New South Wales, perverting the course of justice carries a maximum penalty of 14 years imprisonment. This offence involves obstructing, preventing, perverting or defeating the course of justice or the administration of the law.

The legislation

The offence of Perverting the Course of Justice is contained in section 319 of the Crimes Act 1900 which states that a person who does any act, or makes any omission, intending in any way to pervert the course of justice, is liable to imprisonment for 14 years.

What Actions Might Constitute Perverting the Course of Justice?

A person may be charged with the offence based on:

  • A doctor giving a false medical certificate to a patient;
  • A witness giving a false statement to the police resulting in police wasting time in their investigation;
  • A person encouraging or bribing someone to plead guilty to an offence they did not commit;
  • A suspect in an investigation asking someone to provide a false alibi.

What must be proven?

To find a person guilty of this offence the prosecution must prove each of the following matters beyond a reasonable doubt:

  • That the accused did an act or made an omission;
  • That they did so intent to pervert the course of justice.

Jurisdiction

This matter is a Table 1 offence which means that either the DPP or an accused can elect to have the matter dealt with in the District Court. If no election is made it will be dealt with in the Local Court.

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