Understanding the Law
March 11, 2005
Offences relating to the administration of justice

It is true that you do not hear about offences against the administration of justice very often but you could be charged for destroying evidence, deceiving a witness, swearing falsely, perjury, permitting prisoner to escape, obstructing court officer, disobedience against statutory orders, fabrication of evidence and advertisement of stolen goods among others. I will deal with some of the more familiar ones in this part.{{more}}

Offences relating to judicial proceedings

This may be of interest to you because of recent matters in court that was reported in last week’s newspaper. Any person having been summoned to give evidence who without reasonable excuse fails to attend is guilty of an offence and is liable to two years imprisonment. So, too, is the person who has been sworn or affirmed who without lawful excuse refuses to answer a question or to produce a document.


If you appear as a witness or interpreter in any case in court, you will take an oath to ‘speak the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth’. However the oath does not necessary have to be in the same words every time. When ever you take an oath you are obligated to tell the truth. If after you have sworn you willfully make a material statement which you know to be false or do not believe to be true then you would be guilty of perjury and liable to imprisonment for 7 years.

The person who aids, abets, counsels or suborns another to commit the offence of perjury is also guilt of an offence and liable to imprisonment for seven years.

Fabrication of evidence

If you make up (fabricate) evidence or knowingly make use of fabricated evidence, with an intent to mislead the court, you would be guilty of an offence and will be liable to imprisonment for seven years.

It is in the interest of justice for witnesses under oath to tell the truth and not to fabricate evidence to help the accused. I believe everyone wants the person who has committed a crime to receive a fair punishment.

Advertisement for stolen property

If you offer a reward for the return of any property and it turns out that property was stolen you would be guilty of an offence and liable to imprisonment for one year.

Obstructing court officers

It is a crime to prevent a court officer who is serving a warrant or order of the court from doing so. Bailiffs of the High court and magistrate Courts and police officers have the duty to serve court orders and warrants. They should not in any way be obstructed from doing their duties. Any person who is found guilty of obstructing these officers is guilty of an offence and is liable to imprisonment for two years.