If you are aged above 17 years old, then there is the potential that your name could end up in the papers, an issue often not considered by those facing criminal proceedings.
If the defendant is aged 17 or under, they will more than likely first appear in the Youth Court. If an individual is involved in a case in Youth Court, whether they are a victim, witness, or defendant; if that person is aged 17 or under, then there are strict rules that prohibit publication of the name, address, school, or any other personal detail likely to identify that individual. In certain circumstances, this restriction can be lifted. In such instances we can advise you and, if appropriate, contest any such application on your behalf. In instances where a youth appears in an adult court, the prosecutor will apply for an order to protect the identity of the youth. Reporting restrictions do not apply in civil cases, such as for an anti-social behaviour injunction.
Teachers alleged by a pupil at the same school of carrying out a criminal offence against them automatically have their identity protected until the teacher is charged or summonsed to court, at which time the reporting restrictions can be lifted or varied.
Lifetime anonymity is reserved for the victims of sexual offences and a limited number of other offences,
In certain hearings at court, reporting may only include limited information, such as the name of the defendant and the offences he faces. Such cases include sending and allocation hearings in the Magistrates’ Court, along with pre-trail and preparatory hearings in the Crown Court. Once the trial begins, you can generally expect to see full reporting of the entire proceedings, although in certain instances the Judge may order otherwise.
Discretionary reporting restrictions
Although an application may be made to restrict reporting of a defendant’s name, such restrictions are not common, and any discretion has to be considered with care.
An instance where discretionary reporting restrictions may be appropriate is for a defendant engaged in the witness protection programme. The restrictions on reporting details about the new identity of John Venables, the killer of James Bulger, was a recent example of this.
For proceedings involving individuals aged under the age of 18, that are not in the youth court, there is a discretion to impose reporting restrictions in respect of a victim, witness, or defendant. In order for discretionary reporting restrictions to be imposed, the court would need to be satisfied that the welfare of the child outweighed the strong public interest in open justice. Adult witnesses are protected in a similar way if their evidence would be compromised by being named as a witness.
Will the press be in Court?
Members of the press can generally sit in on any hearing, irrespective of which court, including those in youth court. There are instances where the press is prohibited from sitting in on hearings, but these are rare and only occur in exceptional circumstances.
It is generally accepted principle that justice should be open and administered in public, so even if the press is not admitted access to a hearing, this does not mean your case won’t be in the papers.
Even if you appear in court some distance away from where you live, it doesn’t mean that it won’t make the local press, as most reporters sell their stories to as many papers as they can gain interest from, so chances are the local press will be fairly high on their list of potential clients.
How we can assist
The law in respect of reporting restrictions is complicated, and breach of a restriction is a criminal offence for individuals as well as members of the press.
Press reporting is one of the issues that you need to consider early on in the criminal process, particularly if your case is likely to attract publicity.
You will need to consider the effect that the proceedings may have on others, particularly children, and how you might deal with that.
If you have any concerns or simply to discuss any aspect of your case, please contact our Criminal Defence Solicitors on firstname.lastname@example.org