Solicitors in Milton Keynes - Family Law, Motoring Law, Domestic Violence

24/7 out of office hours domestic violence advice line: 0845 450 1281 (local rates apply)


The Importance of Being Honest

Misrepresentation of the truth in the criminal justice system has always been fraught with danger. Lying on oath is an ancient and serious offence, punishable with a maximum sentence of 7 years custody This means that a ‘terminological inexactitude’ could leave you facing an exact term inside instead! Bizarrely, the way that our criminal laws are framed, means that it is often better to say nothing. This is the so-called ‘right to silence’ although it is perhaps stretching the rules of language a little far to describe it as a ‘right’. This is because an adverse inference can be drawn from tight-lipped failure to respond to charges made against us; but there must be some evidence which points to guilt before the inference may be drawn however. Some offences are created by the very fact of saying nothing. For example, in certain circumstances, the failure to disclose knowledge or suspicion of money laundering constitutes an offence. Also failure to disclose knowledge or belief of suspected terrorist activity is a serious offence. These developments buck the usual norm that there is no positive duty to prevent or even report a crime. In motoring law it is a specific offence to fail to respond to a DVLA request to provide details of who was the driver of a speeding car. According to the Supreme Court this does not breach the rule against self-incrimination. The same applies to failure to report an accident if no one else was around. So now it’s official – honesty really is the best policy!


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