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What are reporting restrictions and do they apply to social media?

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What are “reporting resticitions”

In certain cases the court issues “reporting restrictions” preventing anything being published that would lead to the identification of a witness in the case. This could mean that you can’t identify the person accused or convicted of an offence.

What happens if I breach reporting restrictions?

You could be prosecuted for contempt of court and you could be sent to prison.

Do the same rules apply to information posted on social media?

Yes , the rules for social media are the same as those for traditional media. Breaching reporting restrictions or naming those who are entitled to anonymity could lead you to being prosecuted or punished for contempt.

What cases might have reporting restrictions?

Cases might attract reporting restrictions for all sorts of reasons. It could be due to the age of a witness or person accused of an offence or it could be because of the sort of case it is,

Do reporting restrictions apply to sexual offences?

Many sexual offences do attract reporting restrictions but it varies. The restrictions imposed also vary.

All victims, or those that allege they are victims of sexual offences are protected and  children, are automatically granted anonymity for life from the moment they make an allegation that they are the victim of a sexual offence. Law states that a victim is granted anonymity even when someone else accuses the defendant of the offence.

Anonymity is also extended to allege/victims of female genital mutilation and in some cases modern slavery and human trafficking.

How long do reporting restrictions last for?

Anonymity remains in force for the lifetime of the victim, even when the police decide to take no action, where an allegation has been withdrawn or when the accused is acquitted.

This means that telling a friend about an allegation you have heard or posting information on social media where it is likely to result in the victim being identified can result in a criminal conviction. Sometimes the identity of people accused, charged or convicted with specific types of offences are withheld because it may lead to the victim being identified.

How we can Help?

At Emery Johnson Astills our specialist advocates in the Criminal Defence Team are highly experienced in dealing with sexual offences at both the Magistrates’ and Crown Court.

If you find yourself facing any sexual offence it is vital to contact a solicitor as soon as possible to obtain expert legal advice. Representation at the police station is free, and legal aid may be available for your case at the Magistrates’ and Crown Court.

For offences which do not qualify for legal aid, we offer fixed fees for appointments and representation. To discuss any sexual offences please contact our Criminal Defence Team at Emery Johnson Astills at our Leicester office on 0116 2554855 or our Loughborough office on 01509 610312.

For more information on the members of our Criminal Defence Team at Emery Johnson Astills please visit our people page.