If you’re over the age of 17, the most straightforward response is that it might. Press reporting via social media may happen extremely quickly these days, and it is typically one of the last things on the minds of individuals facing criminal charges.
Anyone under the age of 17 will usually appear before the Youth Court initially. There are strong regulations prohibiting the publication of a person under the age of 18 who is a victim, witness, or defendant in a juvenile court’s name, address, school, or any other information that could be used to identify them. In certain instances, this prohibition may be relaxed; we can advise you and, if necessary, oppose any such application on your behalf. If a minor appears in adult court, the prosecutor will seek an injunction prohibiting the identification of the minor. Reporting limits do not apply in civil processes, such as those for an anti-social behaviour injunction.
There is an automatic reporting limitation that prevents the identity of any teacher who is accused of committing a criminal offence against a student at the same school. This restriction is revoked or altered when the teacher is charged or summoned to court.
Victims of sexual and a few other crimes are guaranteed anonymity for the rest of their lives.
Reports of certain court sessions may only reveal the defendant’s name and the charges he faces. This covers proceedings in the Magistrates’ Court, as well as preliminary and pre-trial hearings in the Crown Court. Unless a Judge rules differently, you may expect to watch reports of the whole trial once it begins.
Discretionary reporting restrictions
Although an application to limit the reporting of a defendant’s name may be made, such limits are uncommon.
A defendant in the witness protection programme is an example of why an application might be suitable (used recently in relation to John Venables, the killer of James Bulger).
There is a discretion to impose reporting limits on a victim, witness, or defendant under the age of 18 in proceedings that are not in the minor court. The court must be convinced that the child’s welfare outweighs the significant public interest in open justice. Adult witnesses have a similar level of discretion if their testimony would be jeopardised if they were mentioned as a witness.
Will the press be in Court?
Unless they are specifically excluded, members of the press are allowed to attend proceedings in any court, including the youth court, unless they are specifically excluded in rare and exceptional circumstances.
The general premise is that justice should be accessible to the people and conducted in a transparent manner. Even if the press isn’t present, your case will still be reported.
Local reporters sell articles to other publications, so don’t believe that just because you appear in court in a different city than where you reside, your local press won’t know about it.
How we can assist
The law governing reporting limits is complex, and violating one is a criminal offence for both persons and members of the press. This article is mainly meant to provide a basic overview of the topics at hand.
One of the topics you should think about early on in the criminal process is press reporting, especially if your case is expected to get a lot of attention.
You’ll need to think about how the proceedings might affect others, particularly children, and how you’ll handle it.
How can we help?
We ensure we keep up to date with any changes in legislation and case law so that we are always best placed to advise you properly. If you would like to discuss any aspect of your case, please contact our team of criminal defence specialists on: 01376 511819