Wiping the slate clean - taking offences into consideration

The BBC are on a mission this week to discuss criminal offences that are dealt with by being taking into consideration, there are articles on their website, it's being discussed on the Today programme and I will be discussing it on Radio 4's Law in Action at 4pm on the 1st and 3rd November 2011 - well I might be if I was interest enough during the interview.  Taking an offence into consideration is the process whereby a guilty defendant can admit to crimes for which they have not been charged on the understanding that they will not be prosecuted in future for that offence.  This helps the police as each offence TiC'd counts as a bona fide detection and thus boosts forces detection rates.

It is not a well understood process, even by lawyers, and many make the mistake of thinking that once you TiC a crime you are safe from prosecution because you can rely on the special plea of autrefois convict - literally instead of pleading guilty or not guilty you enter a preemptive plea of autrefois and must then call evidence to prove that you have previously been convicted of the offence.  However, an offence taken into consideration does not allow the autrefois plea to be raised!  Case law dating back to the 1940's in R v Nicholson (if i remember rightly) has made clear that TiCing an offence does not protect a suspect from being charged later on.  A TiC simply invokes a convention that the Crown will not seek to prosecute in future, although prosecution does remain a possibility in exceptional cases.

In some circumstances it may be possible to argue that the later prosecution is an abuse of the courts process and should thus be struck out.  However, I suspect that this will only be effective where there had been relatively few offences TiC'd and the new offence is not a serious one because then the suspect can argue that their original sentence was inflated sufficiently to punish them for the new offence.  I am not aware of any cases where this has been considered.

I should also point out that contrary to some BBC reports I have seen, suspects do not receive 'credit' for admitting more offences.  In fact, the court will increase the sentence to take account of the TiC's.

Comments

  1. they may increase the sentence but not an addition of say another 3 years. Plus I still don't understand the principle of serving concurrent sentences - the prison service isn't amazon where you get discounted postage for multiple items!!

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  2. Yes it closes down crimes for the police but the police
    - use it to increase their detection stats, when obviously they haven't detected the crime. If they record it lets have a separate stat for that

    - the imposition of increased sentences is usually minor

    - clients and their lawyers often misunderstand which other crimes to put forward for tic. The client may end up serving time he would never otherwise have done so if the crimes which are tic'd the police would never be able to prove.

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