A more recent version of these Pre Trial notes – written by Oxford students – is available here.
The following is a more accessble plain text extract of the PDF sample above, taken from our Criminal Procedure and Evidence Notes. Due to the challenges of extracting text from PDFs, it will have odd formatting:
Supervision 2 - Pre-trial Drawing adverse inferences
? Prior to Criminal Justice and Public Order Act 1994, English law recognised a right to silence in the sense of a privilege against selfincrimination.
? In Bowden Lord Bingham recognised that s.34-38 should not be construed more widely than the statutory language requires.
? Stressed by ECtHR in Murray v UK that right to remain silent was crucial to Article 6, but that this right was not absolute. o Held in Beckles that trial judge's failure to direct jury properly infringed Article 6. o Condron balance - article 6 and drawing adverse inferences. o In Bristow v Jones judge (in his direction) did not say that silence could not amount to guilt. CoA quashed conviction. o Interests of community balanced against individual (Brown v Stott).
? S.58 Youth Justice and Criminal Evidence Act 1999 prevents any adverse inferences being drawn unless accused has had an opportunity to consult a solicitor.
? Common law rule that an accused's silence in the face of an accusation may be treated as evidence of an admission unaffected by 1994 Act (s.34(5)).
? Any discussion of adverse inferences takes place shortly before summing up. S.34 - defendant fails to mention facts when questioned or charged
? Adverse inference may be drawn if D fails to mention facts that he later relies on in his defence.
? S.34 not triggered if Crown has no proof that D was aware of the fact (MB). Nor if D has extreme mental impairment (S and P - IQ of 51).
? Drawing of inference prevented unless opportunity to take legal advice offered.
? Key question is whether it was reasonable for D to remain silent. This is even if solicitor advised D to remain silent (Beckles). o Generally, if D argues that he remained silent because of legal advice, he has to sacrifice legal professional privilege and allow prosecution to explore the reasons for the advice (Seaton). o But if D merely adduces evidence that his lawyer advised him, he does not waive privilege (Bowden).
? Even if the omitted fact is central to determining guilt in the case, s.34 can still be invoked (Milford). o But subject to limit in s.38(3) that such inferences are alone insufficient for a finding of guilt.
? S.34 can be circumvented by the issuance of a pre-prepared statement. First allowed in Ali (Safraz). Confirmed by CoA in Knight. o Does timing of the statement matter?
o But inferences can still be drawn if D departs from statement at trial (Mohammad).
Argued in Knight that purpose of s.34 was not to allow police questioning, so pre-prepared statements justifiable.
? Merely declining to be questioned cannot fall under s.34 (Johnson and Hind). o But s.34(1)(b) allows inferences to be drawn when suspect is 'officially informed that he may be prosecuted' (Goodsir /
Dervish). o Code C:12.5 allows for interviews to take place in police cells.
? Seems that cases where a fixed decision has been made to charge D regardless of anything he says, will fall outside ambit of s.34 (Elliott).
? If evidence inadmissible, no inference can be drawn (Dervish).
? Birch argues for abolishment of s.34 and use of common law rules. o Too expensive and difficulties with interpretation.
? Dennis argues the scope of s.34 has been restricted. o Criminal Procedure and Investigations Act 1996 have dealt with the problem of ambush defences, which s.34 originally aimed to combat. Jury directions
? Petkar direction given to jury if s.34 invoked. o The jury should be told that, if an inference is drawn, they should not convict "wholly or mainly on the strength of it". o An inference should be drawn "only if...the only sensible explanation for his failure" is that he had no answer or none that would stand up to scrutiny. o An inference should only be drawn if, apart from the defendant's failure to mention facts later relied on in his defence, the prosecution case is "so strong that it clearly calls for an answer by him"
? McGarry direction given if jury not entitled to draw inferences.
? Inadequate direction quashed conviction in Bresa. S.36 - D's failure to account for objects, substances or marks /
S.37 - D's failure to account for his presence
? D must be given opportunity to consult a solicitor.
? Direction given to jury is long and complex. S.35 - D elects not to give evidence at trial
? If D absconds during trial, judge ought not to direct jury that they are entitled to draw adverse inferences (Gough).
? S.35(1)(b) provides that no inferences should be drawn if physical or mental condition makes it undesirable to give evidence.
? Direction given to juries laid down in Cowan: o Burden of proof remains upon the prosecution throughout and what the required standard is; o The defendant has the right to remain silent; o An inference from failure to give evidence cannot on its own prove guilt; o Jury must be satisfied that the prosecution have established a case to answer before drawing any inferences from silence. o Jury must be satisfied that D does not have an answer to the charge that would stand up to cross-examination. o
Buy the full version of these notes or essay plans and more in our Criminal Procedure and Evidence Notes.