Advising on immigration offences
Criminal practitioners are reminded of the need to be familiar with the statutory defences to immigration-related offences when advising clients suspected or accused of these offences, following concerns raised by the Criminal Cases Review Commission (CCRC).
Responding to an article in the Law Society Gazette on 14 June 2012 the CCRC has expressed concern as several cases which have involved people convicted of immigration offences have been victims of miscarriages of justice, due to both defence and prosecution lawyers’ failure to identify ‘reasonable excuse’ defences, Richard Atkinson, chair of the Criminal Law Committee said:
‘The report brings to our attention CCRC concern about five identified cases of wrongful convictions in immigration-related offences. This is also of concern to the Criminal Law Committee. I would remind all defence practitioners dealing with people suspected or accused of such offences of the need to be familiar with the relevant provisions, and any statutory defences that may be available.
In advising their clients they should carefully consider whether a defence, such as having a reasonable excuse for failure to provide a genuine passport, may be available. Crown Prosecution Service lawyers should likewise consider the detailed guidance it has issued explaining ‘reasonable excuse’ and other defences when these are raised. It is important that full instructions are taken and accurate advice is given to these potentially very vulnerable people.’
For further information, visit the Law Gazette.