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What evidence is needed to charge a person with an offence?

View profile for Martin Pizzey
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Disclosure or the lack of it in criminal proceedings

We receive a number of calls from clients who ask if they can be charged with an offence when the alleged victim has not provided a statement or where there isn’t any CCTV/forensic evidence.

The first point to remember is that we are all subject to the law. Whenever one individual’s behaviour towards another amounts to an offence being committed, the perpetrator of that offence can find themselves in court. This can even be the case when no complaint is made by the alleged victim. Issues for consideration by the prosecution would concentrate on the available evidence and whether it is in the public interest in prosecuting.

In many domestic violence cases, the alleged victim may for a variety of reasons be reluctant to provide a statement of complaint to a police officer. This does not stop, as experience has shown, the police investigating the potential offence. Evidence can come from a variety of sources. The incident may have been witnessed by another person present at the scene or captured on CCTV systems. Sometimes it may be the case the alleged victim is prepared to tell the police what happened but will refuse to make and sign a formal statement.

Current police practice is to video record conversations with a victim at the first point of contact – likely to be following an attendance when an emergency call has been received by them. The recording is on a small CCTV device known as a body worn camera that is becoming standard issue for police officers.

Prosecutors are becoming more prepared to pursue cases at court when the only account as to what is alleged is captured in such a video recording. Rules relating to the admissibility of evidence permit such “evidence” being allowed at a trial subject to appropriate tests and safeguards to ensure fairness to all concerned. Of course, the video evidence may only tell part of the full story. In some cases the accounts recorded from the alleged victim may be falsely made. Whatever the background – the old thinking that “no witness means no case” is no longer correct.

Anyone facing allegations where this is applicable should seek legal advice at the earliest opportunity in order for an experienced solicitor to consider the evidence. Should you require assistance please contact our team on 0175 321 6399.

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