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5.6.1 - Charge: Assist Offender

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I must now direct you about the crime of assisting an offender. To prove this crime, the prosecution must prove five elements beyond reasonable doubt:

One - that someone committed a serious criminal offence. Throughout these directions, I will call the person who committed that offence the "principal offender".

Two - that, after that offence was committed, the accused performed some act.

Three - that, when the accused performed that act, s/he knew or believed that the principal offender had committed a serious criminal offence.

Four - that the accused acted with the purpose of impeding the apprehension, prosecution, conviction or punishment of the principal offender.

Five - that the accused had no lawful authority or reasonable excuse for his/her actions.

Before you can find NOA guilty of assisting an offender you must be satisfied that the prosecution has proved all five of these elements beyond reasonable doubt.

I will now explain each of these elements in detail.

Serious Criminal Offence

The first element the prosecution must prove is that the principal offender committed a serious criminal offence.

[If this element is not in issue, add the following shaded section.]

In this case it is not disputed that NO3P committed NOO.[1] The law says that NOO is a serious criminal offence. You should therefore have no difficulty finding this element proven.

[If this element is in issue, add the following shaded section.]

In this case, it is alleged that NO3P committed the offence of NOO. The law says that NOO is a serious criminal offence. This element will therefore be met if you are satisfied that NO3P committed NOO.

This requires you to be satisfied that all of the following matters have been proven beyond reasonable doubt:

[Describe all of the elements of the offence, explain those elements, and relate them to the facts.]

[If evidence of the principal offender’s conviction has been led and contested, add the following darker shaded section.]

In order to prove this element, the prosecution provided evidence that NO3P was convicted of NOO by another jury. While you may use this fact as evidence that NO3P did commit the offence of NOO, it is not conclusive. You must make your own assessment of the evidence in this case, and consider whether, based on all the evidence you have heard, you are satisfied that NO3P actually did commit the offence of NOO.

Accused’s Action

The second element the prosecution must prove is that, after the offence of NOO was completed, the accused performed some act.

In this case it is alleged that NOA [describe relevant act]. This element will only be met if you are satisfied, beyond reasonable doubt, that s/he performed this act, and that this occurred after the offence of NOO was completed.

[Describe relevant prosecution and defence evidence and/or arguments.]

Knowledge or Belief

The third element the prosecution must prove is that, when the accused [describe relevant act], s/he knew or believed that the principal offender had committed a serious criminal offence.

[If it is alleged that NOA believed that NO3P had committed a different offence from that which s/he had committed, add the following shaded section.]

It does not matter if NOA believed that NO3P had committed a different offence from the one s/he actually committed. All that is required for this element is that NOA believed that NO3P had committed some serious criminal offence.

In this case, the prosecution alleged that, when NOA [describe relevant act], s/he knew or believed that NO3P had committed [describe relevant offence]. [Describe relevant prosecution evidence and/or arguments.] The defence denied this, arguing [describe relevant defence evidence and/or arguments].

Purpose

The fourth element the prosecution must prove is that the accused acted with the purpose of impeding the apprehension, prosecution, conviction or punishment of the principal offender. That is, NOA [describe relevant act] because s/he wanted to prevent NO3P from being caught by the police and brought to trial.

[If the defence argued that, the effect of impeding apprehension was not desired, add the following shaded section.]

It is not sufficient for NOA to have known that his/her acts would probably impede NO3P’s apprehension, prosecution, conviction or punishment. For this element to be met, s/he must have actively desired that result.

This does not need to have been NOA’s only motivation for acting in that way. However, for this element to be met, you must be satisfied, beyond reasonable doubt, that it was at least one of his/her motivations. If you are unable to exclude the possibility that NOA was solely motivated by another desire, then this element will not be met.

In this case, the prosecution argued that the purpose of NOA’s actions was to impede NO3P’s apprehension, prosecution, conviction or punishment. [Describe relevant prosecution evidence and/or arguments]. The defence denied this, arguing [describe relevant defence evidence and/or arguments].

Reasonable excuse

The fifth element the prosecution must prove is that the accused had no lawful authority or reasonable excuse for his/her actions.

If this element is not in issue, add the following shaded section

This element is not in dispute in this case. You should therefore have no difficulty finding this element proven.

[If this element is in issue, explain any relevant defences or justifications and relate to the facts.]

Application of Law to Evidence

[If not previously done, apply the law to the relevant evidence here.]

Summary

To summarise, before you can find NOA guilty of assisting an offender, the prosecution must prove to you beyond reasonable doubt:

One – That NO3P committed NOO; and

Two – That after the completion of that offence, NOA performed some act; and

Three – That when NOA performed that act, s/he knew or believed that NO3P had committed a serious criminal offence; and

Four – That NOA acted with the purpose of impeding NO3P’s apprehension, prosecution, conviction or punishment; and

Five – That NOA had no lawful authority or reasonable excuse for his/her actions.

If you find that any of these elements have not been proven beyond reasonable doubt, then you must find NOA not guilty of assisting an offender.

 

Notes

[1] Name of Offence.

Last updated: 7 February 2013

See Also

5.6 - Assist Offender

5.6.2 - Checklist: Assist Offender