Tuesday, 8 April 2014

Yet Another Attack On The Justice System - This Time, It's Joint Liability (Again)…

The progressives don’t like it…because it works:
Hundreds of people are convicted of murder or manslaughter every year in England and Wales even though they were not directly responsible for the crime, it is revealed today .
So what? You might say the same about a getaway driver who doesn’t actually go and poke his shotgun in the bank manager’s face, mightn’t you?
Research by the Bureau of Investigative Journalism shows that in the past eight years nearly one in five of all homicide cases have been prosecuted under a 300-year-old legal doctrine that allows someone to be convicted just for being present at the scene of the crime or being associated with the killer.
That’s because we have a big rise in gang crime and mob assaults. As the article itself has to admit:
The use of so-called “joint enterprise” prosecutions – initially designed to deter people from supporting duellists – has become an increasingly important tool in tackling gang murders, as it allows a group to be convicted of an offence regardless of which member committed it.
And…isn’t this what we want? To quash the threat of gang crime?

I don’t hear anyone howling at the injustice of trying a whole group of people for the murder of St Stephen Lawrence, after all.
Senior legal figures have suggested that joint enterprise be reviewed. Lord Phillips, the former Lord Chief Justice, told the Bureau that reform was necessary because joint enterprise was “capable of producing injustice, undoubtedly”.
“It’s very complicated for juries and it falls to the judge to do his best to explain things to the jury. Some of the scenes of group violence are so horrifying they can leave a jury willing to convict anyone who was there.”
Ah. I see where you’re coming from. We can't have people wanting to convict, now can we?

10 comments:

Anonymous said...

Joint enterprise is a weapon in the never ending fight against crime. It works. If my house is broken into I want not only the burglar but his mate acting as lookout in the street to both face the same penalty, without it few will get convicted and then there will be even less of a deterrent in fact I might turn to crime myself

MTG said...

A fascinating history.
It is now apparent that “joint enterprise” prosecutions of the "culpable in uniform" were curiously overlooked by CPS in the aftermath of the Tomlinson killing.

Bucko The Moose said...

"initially designed to deter people from supporting duellists"

Obviously designed to make the law sound very old and outdated, but what has changed?

1) Duelling pistols replaced with fists and feet.
2) Victim not a willing participant.

"Some of the scenes of group violence are so horrifying they can leave a jury willing to convict anyone who was there.”"

So don't be there. Don't be part of a baying mob screaming for the blood of someone being kicked to death in the street.

Anonymous said...

What about the offence of 'conspiracy to.............."? Anon's lookout hs conspired with the actual burglar to commit a crime and so should receive the same punishment - the same as aiding and abetting, where the presence and assistance of one is necessary for the other to commit the actual crime.
Penseivat

Robert the Biker said...

So what is this REALLY about?
Simples! The privileged groups mustn't fall foul of the law must they?
Black gangsta shit? Our wonderful diversity.
Muslim rape scum? Oh, such a rich culcha - innit?
Pikeys? So misunderstood you know.
So let's change a working law to let off the thugs and scum, wouldn't want any old fashioned ideas about accountability for actions would we?

Mark Wadsworth said...

We did inchoate offences on the law degree.

It's all a bit tricky, there's incitement, aiding and abetting, joint enterprise and attempt.

I can't remember the overlaps or precise rules, but it all seemed fair enough to me.

Greencoat said...

Our imported colonies of Third World savages like to hunt in packs so we need these laws to defend ourselves against them.

Umbongo said...

Ah yes the Bureau of Investigative Journalism. Weren't they implicated in the smearing of Lord Macalpine by Newsnight? Aren't they the usual lefty claque misnamed to fool the punters into thinking they're some kind of impartial group of high-minded journalists? Craig over at the is the BBC biased? blog tells all.

Anonymous said...

What about the offence of 'conspiracy

For conspiracy to apply you have to prove (a) that the principal did it and (b) that it was discussed ahead of time (ie, that they conspired).

With regards to (a), Joint enterprise is used in cases where the principal is unclear.

Say five members of a gang are present at a scene where someone is killed. You can put them all at the scene beyond reasonable doubt. However, they each say another actually put the knife in. So you have five unreliable witnesses, all pointing the finger at a different culprit. Clearly a jury cannot be sure which one of them (if any) is telling the truth, so strictly, they can't convict any of them.

So if you were to charge any single one of them with the crime, or even the whole lot with it severally, then they must be acquitted.

(A similar thing occurs with aiding and abetting: for aiding and abetting to have taken place, the principal has to be convicted. If you can't identify a principal then you can't convict anyone for aiding them).

Obviously this would be unjust: we know there was a murder, we know one of them did it.

Charging the lot of them with a joint enterprise gets around this by pointing out that even if they didn't happen to be the one to stick the knife in, they still helped set up and commit the crime, and tried to cover it up afterwards.

As for (b), joint enterprise crimes don't have to be planned. So for instance if a gang goes out with no specific plan to knife someone, but a situation develops and they do end up killing someone, then there was no crime of conspiracy (because they didn't discuss it beforehand, so they didn't conspire).

(Contrariwise, someone can be convicted of conspiracy even if they weren't at the scene of the crime, but discussed and helped set it up beforehand; for joint enterprise to apply you have to actually be there taking part).

This is why a doctrine of joint enterprise is important: otherwise the guilty can go free by ensuring that they are the only witnesses and then using their testimonies to muddy the waters enough that even though it is plain as day that they committed the crime, there is not enoguh evidence to determine with certainty exactly which one struck the fatal blow.

JuliaM said...

"If my house is broken into I want not only the burglar but his mate acting as lookout in the street to both face the same penalty.."

Sadly, these days, that just means two suspended sentences..:/

"Obviously designed to make the law sound very old and outdated, but what has changed?"

As you point out, little. Save, that is, the social standing of the participants!

"So what is this REALLY about?
Simples! The privileged groups mustn't fall foul of the law must they?"


Spot on!

"Ah yes the Bureau of Investigative Journalism. "

A treble oxymoron!