Defendant’s Red Alert - Section 28 Youth Justice and Criminal Evidence Act 1999
What is Section 28?
Witnesses can feel intimidated when appearing in court, potentially affecting the quality and quantity of their evidence. This concern is salient when a witness is considered vulnerable or distressed by the prospect of testifying.
Section 28 of the Youth Justice and Criminal Evidence Act 1999 (YJCEA) allows for special measures to help children and vulnerable witnesses give evidence.
How will defendants be affected?
Section 28 of the Act will have the greatest impact on defendants. Where cross-examination of a complainant will be submitted as a video recording to be played at trial, it must take place far sooner than usual. Whilst this schedule should produce higher-quality evidence in support of the complainant’s case, there are concerns that it will hinder the defendant in providing a robust defence.
Building a defence without full disclosure
An effective cross-examination relies on the defence having access to all material relevant to the case. Although it is intended that full disclosure will take place before recording the cross-examination, in reality, it is doubtful that this will always be achieved. Pertinent, even decisive, evidence can come to light once a trial has begun, since police may only be able to appraise material gathered during an investigation gradually.
The defence being forced to assemble an initial cross-examination based on incomplete evidence risks prejudicing their entire case. Whilst further cross-examinations can be recorded as new information emerges, presenting a defence piecemeal can weaken it. To ensure that you put forward a vigorous, comprehensive defence from the beginning, you need a strategic lawyer with sharp insight working with you as soon as the allegation is made.
MORE THAN EVER YOU need proactive strategic thinking efficient lawyers, willing and able to engage with the Crown at the first opportunity BECAUSE all the important strategic steps in the trial process need to be considered and applied at the earliest conceivable stage.
Your actual trial may be a long time in the future but the cross examination of the Complainant will be looming within weeks of you being charged.
Get ready. Be ready.
Contact our Sexual Offences Lawyers (Yorkshire, London, Birmingham, Manchester)