Escaping Lawful Custody
It is an offence at common law to escape from lawful custody. This may apply both before a trial where a person is lawfully detained and after trial when a person is lawfully imprisoned. It is an offence for any law officer or other person engaged in the custody of prisoners to voluntarily or negligently allow the escape of the prisoner. The offence at common law is punishable in the same way as that of which the prisoner is guilty or for which he is being charged.
It is an offence for a prisoner to escape from prison and to break or breach the prison. This offence is not committed where a person leaves through open doors or jumps over walls. It requires an actual breach of the prison itself.
This attempts to rescue a person forcibly from lawful custody. The rescuer must know that the person is in custody on a criminal charge. At common law, the offence is subject to the same degree of punishment as that to which the rescued person is subject.
It is an offence for a person who has been temporarily released to remain lawfully at large. This may happen if a person’s period of temporary release has expired or he has breached a condition. The person unlawfully at large is guilty of an offence, on summary conviction liable to imprisonment up to six months. A person prison sentence is suspended while he is unlawfully at large.
Assisting Prison Breaches
The Criminal Law Act 1976 makes it an offence to aid any person in escaping or attempting to escape from lawful custody with intent to facilitate the escape of such person from lawful custody or to enable him to remain at large.
It is an offence with intent to cause injury to persons or property in a place where a person is in lawful custody, to bring any article or thing into such place to the person in such place or places. It is equally an offence to make or take part in any arrangement for such purposes. The person who is found guilty may be subject to imprisonment up to 10 years on conviction on indictment.
The offence of smuggling articles into prison contrary to prison regulations to the intent that it will come into possession of a person in imprisonment is subject on summary conviction to a fine up to €625 or imprisonment up to 12 months or both or conviction on indictment to imprisonment for a term not exceeding five years.
The Prisons Act 2007 makes it an offence for a person to possess a mobile telecommunication device within a prison. It is subject on summary conviction, to a fine of up to €5000 or one year imprisonment, on conviction on indictment, to a fine of up to €10,000 or five years imprisonment or both. It is an offence to possess, use, or supply such equipment.
It is an offence for a person to fail to surrender for bail. He is liable on summary conviction to a fine of up to €5000 or imprisonment up to 12 months. It is a defence for the person to show that he had a reasonable excuse.
Where a person fails to answer bail, the court may direct that a warrant be issued for his arrest. A member of an Garda Síochána may arrest such a person without a warrant, provided that the original bench warrant is served on the person as soon as practicable.
Offences against Officers of Justice
It is an offence at common law to receive or offer an undue reward to any person whose ordinary business or profession relates to the administration of justice in order that their behaviour in office incline find them to act contrary to rules of honesty and integrity.
It is an offence at common law to waste police time. This derives from the common law offence of causing a public mischief.
It is an offence to obstruct or impede any sheriff or undersheriff’s or court messengers, or a member of an Garda Síochána or others in the execution of a court order. It is an offence to resist, or obstruct execution. It is subject on summary conviction to a fine up to €127 or imprisonment of up to 12 months or both. It is an offence to remove or conceal any items which may have been taken in execution under an execution order. It is punishable in the same way as above.
Interfering with Justice
The Offences against the State Act 1972 provides that any statement made verbally or in writing or otherwise at a meeting or demonstration in public that constitutes an interference with the course of justice is unlawful. It is deemed to be so if it is intended or is of a character likely directly or indirectly to influence any court or person concerned in the conduct or defence of any civil or criminal proceedings, including parties who are witnesses as to how and if the proceedings should be conducted, continued or defended or what their outcome should be.
A person who makes the statement or organises or takes part in any such meeting, procession or demonstration that is unlawful under the provision is guilty of an offence. He is subject on summary conviction to fine up to €254 or 12 months imprisonment or both, or on conviction on indictment, a fine up to €1,270 or imprisonment up to five years.
False Statement and Reports
The Criminal Law Act 1976 makes it an offence to knowingly make a false statement or report or show that an offence is being committed whether by himself or another or tending to give rise to the apprehension for the safety of persons or property.
It is an offence knowingly to make a false report or statement tending to show that has information material to any inquiries by the Garda Síochána and thereby cause the time of the Garda to be unlawfully wasted. The offence is subject on summary conviction to a fine of up to €625 or 12 months imprisonment or both, or on conviction on indictment to imprisonment for a term of up to five years.
The Criminal Justice Act 1999 provides that without prejudice from the other provision of law, it is an offence for a person whether inside or outside of the State to harm or threaten, menace or in any way intimidate or put in fear another person who is assisting in the investigation by an Garda Síochána of an offence or is a witness or potential witness or a juror or potential juror in proceedings for an offence or a member of his or her family, with intent of thereby causing the investigation or the course of justice to be obstructed, perverted or interfered with.
Where it is shown the accused did an act referred to above both, this is to be taken as evidence that it was done with the requisite intention. Family members include spouse, parents, children, siblings, uncle, aunt, grandchildren etc. It also covers persons cohabiting.
A person guilty of an offence is subject and conviction summarily of a fine up to €1,905 imprisonment up to 12 months or both, or on conviction on indictment imprisonment up to 15 years or a fine or both.
A person may be found guilty of an offence for conduct outside the State and it takes place on an Irish ship, Irish aircraft, or if the person concerned is an Irish citizen or ordinarily resides in the State.
Offences against Gardai
It is an offence for a person to induce or do any act calculated to induce a member of an Garda Síochána to withhold services or commit a breach of discipline. It is an offence to impersonate a member of Garda Síochána or make any statement or do any act calculated falsely to suggest that the person is a member of Garda Síochána.
It is an offence for a person not being a member of an Garda Síochána to have in his possession a uniform or any equipment supplied to a member of Garda Síochána for which he cannot account for possession.
It is an offence to put on or wear without Garda Commissioner’s permission any article of Garda uniform of any rank of a member of an Garda Síochána and without reasonable, or without reasonable excuse, any imitation of such article or uniform or for the purpose of doing or procuring to be done any act which he would not be entitled to do by law, assume the name, designation, description of any rank of any member from Garda Síochána.
It is an offence for a person without lawful authority to have in his possession or use or in connection with any trade, business, calling or profession any article, equipment or vehicle containing or having a distinctive badge or crest so closely resembling the crest of Garda Síochána so as to deceive.
The above offences are subject on summary conviction to a fine of up to €3,000 and 12 months imprisonment. They are subject on conviction on indictment to a fine up to €50,000 and up to five years’ imprisonment.
There are exemptions, in relation to the wearing of uniforms in theatres, films, television or other media. There is a defence for a person with prior approval from Garda Síochána to wear such uniforms in the course of production of a film, and a TV programme.
Disclosure of Investigations
It is an offence for a member of an Garda Síochána or civilian member of staff, whether under contract or other arrangements with the Garda Síochána to disclose any information obtained in the course of duties of that person’s office if the person knows the disclosure is likely to have a harmful effect.
A harmful effect is one which
- facilitates the commission of offences
- prejudices the safekeeping of persons in lawful custody,
- impedes prevention, detection and investigation of an offence,
- impedes apprehension or prosecution of a suspected offender, prejudices the security of any system of communication,
- results in the identification of a witness in criminal proceedings who has given evidence in confidence, where his identity is not a matter of public knowledge and results in publication of information relating to a person that was a witness or victim of an offence of such a nature that is likely to discourage the person to whom the information relates or any other persons from giving evidence or reporting the offence.
- results from the publication of personal information that constitutes an unwarranted and serious infringement of a person’s right to privacy.
- reveals information provided in confidence by another state or international organization, police service or intelligence forces.
- adversely interferes with the international relations or interests of that of State including those in Northern Ireland.
It is presumed that a disclosure is likely to have a harmful effect if a reasonable person would in all the circumstances, be aware that the disclosure could have that effect.
It is an offence punishable on summary conviction with up to €3000 fine or 12 months or both, or on conviction on indictment up to €50,000 fine or imprisonment of five years or both.
A person who contravenes the above provisions and receives any gift, consideration or advantage as an inducement to disclose information, is guilty of an offence, subject to \ higher level of punishment.
Disclosure is permitted to various public authorities, including
- the Criminal Assets Bureau,
- the prosecution authorities,
- Garda Inspectorate,
- Revenue Commissioners,
- members of the Oireachtas in the course of their duties, courts, tribunals, disclosures made in the course of employment
- otherwise authorised by the Garda Síochána Commissioner or
- permissible by law.
There is a new offence that relates to failure to report information to Garda Siochana. A person who has information which he knows might be of material assistance in preventing the commission by another of a relevant offence or in securing the apprehension prosecution or conviction of another person for such offence and who fails without reasonable excuse to disclose such information, the Garda Siochana is guilty of an offence.
Relevant offences are defined in detail in the legislation with reference to the relevant statutory provisions.
A person who is guilty of withholding information is liable on summary conviction to a Class A fine or imprisonment up to 12 months. He is liable on indictment to a fine or imprisonment for a term up to five years or both.
Legal professional privilege applies in relation to a document where it is such that in the opinion of the court the person is entitled to refuse to produce or give access to it on grounds of legal professional privilege.