“I did it!”
Do you know how your admission of guilt can affect you and potentially be used against you?
Consider this factual scenario based on a recent (and true) case!
A person is found guilty of assault matters after being heard and losing in the local court. The person proceeds to being sentenced.
The court seek that the person be assessed for an “intensive corrections order’ also known as an ‘ICO’.
An ICO is an alternative to being imprisoned so it can be a desirable result in some cases.
In order to seek an ICO, the person is required to be interviewed by a employee from the Department of Corrective Services (DCS) and is advised by the department employee to ‘tell the truth’.
In doing so, the person makes an admission to the charges that he originally fought at court and lost.
The Crown then seek to use this admission to prove the prosecution case at the appeal.
The officer from the DCS asked the person to tell the truth and was therefore possibly compelled to make the admission- without realizing that the information would be used against them later on at appeal.
So the court asked; should the Crown be granted leave to use this evidence against the person pursuant to s18 of The Crimes Appeal and Review Act or would it be against the interests of justice?
The court considered the following points, namely; the person felt compelled to answer the question so that the report could read favorably, the person was counselled into telling the truth and was not cautioned that the information would be detrimental to them.
The purpose of the meeting was for an assessment at sentence and not for adducing new information.
The law is ‘grey’ when it comes to making certain information available to the Courts.
It is grey because the test applicable to the Courts, when assessing the release of certain information ( like an admission), is called ‘the interests of justice’.
It is determined on a case by case basis and there is no strict rule.
Imagine you have stated something to someone that causes you to be incriminated against and that is prejudicial to you and makes you vulnerable (?)
Giving authorities like the Police, the Departments linked to the Justice system like Corrective Services(DCS) is a very delicate matter and you should seek professional legal advice before discussing anything with anyone.
A criminal lawyer will know what advice to provide you.
Mr X is charged with assault charges that he takes to a hearing and loses in the local Court.
The Court seek that he be assessed for an alternative to imprisonment and be placed on a Intensive Corrections Order, an ICO.
Mr. X makes an admission when being assessed by the Dept of Corrective Services.
It was held that ‘the admission was made in circumstances, where, in a real and practical sense, the applicant was denied his common law right of silence.
That is the right which our legal system has always considered to be ‘fundamental’.