Thursday, September 22, 2005

Bizzare Offences

When I go off to Court I usually see the same faces. Newer faces tend to walk around with books under their arm. New barristers always tend to walk around with either a copy of Blackstone's Criminal Practice or Archbold's Pleadings and Evidence. New solicitors generally walk around either with a copy of Anthony and Berryman's Magistrates Court guide or the Criminal Law Solicitors Association Duty Solicitor Handbook. My preference is to walk around with no books as I have enough files to walk around with. If I need to refer to a book I will either find someone at Court and commandeer their copy for five minutes, or I will phone up the office and get someone to read out what I need to know.

Everytime I read the larger text books I come across some kind of bizarre criminal offence. Now these bizarre offences sometimes come in handy. Years ago I remember being at Tottenham Police Station and I was representing a youth who had been accused of theft of a pedal cycle. I had remembered seeing that there was an equivalent offence to joyriding for bicycles under s. 12(5) of the Theft Act 1968. After using this bizarre offence I managed to get my Client a caution instead of being charged with theft. They had not considered cautioning him as he already had cautions for theft (straightforward s. 1 of the Theft Act 1968), but they were happy to caution him where the caution was for a different offence.

Here are a few more offences that I have pulled out of the text books - ther older the offence the more bizarre it sounds. By the way these are all offences that are still currently available to be committed and punished for.

Section 36 of the Offences Against the Person Act 1861: Obstructing or assaulting a clergyman or other minister in the discharge of his duties in place of worship or burial place, or on his way thither

Whosoever shall, by threats or force, obstruct or prevent or endeavour to obstruct or prevent, any clergyman or other minister in or from celebrating divine service or otherwise officiating in any church, chapel, meeting house, or other place of divine worship, or in or from the performance of his duty in the lawful burial of the dead in any churchyard or other burial place, or shall strike or offer any violence to, or shall, upon any civil process, or under the pretence of executing any civil process, arrest any clergyman or other minister who is engaged in, or to the knowledge of the offender is about to engage in, any of the rites or duties in this section aforesaid, or who to the knowledge of the offender shall be going to perform the same or returning from the performance thereof, shall be guilty of a misdemeanor, and being convicted thereof shall be liable, at the discretion of the court, to be imprisoned for any term not exceeding two years, with or without hard labour.

Section 3 of the Game Act 1831: Penalty for killing or taking game on certain days and during certain seasons—Penalty for laying poison to kill game

...If any person whatsoever shall kill or take any game, or use any dog, gun, net, or other engine or instrument for the purpose of killing or taking any game, on a Sunday or Christmas Day, such person shall, on conviction thereof before two justices of the peace, forfeit and pay for every such offence such sum of money, not exceeding [level 1 on the standard scale], as to the said justices shall seem meet,...; and if any person whatsoever shall kill or take any partridge between the first day of February and the first day of September in any year, or any pheasant between the first day of February and the first day of October in any year, or any black game (except in the county of Somerset or Devon, or in the New Forest in the county of Southampton) between the tenth day of December in any year and the twentieth day of August in the succeeding year, or in the county of Somerset or Devon, or in the New Forest aforesaid, between the tenth day of December in any year and the first day of September in the succeeding year, or any grouse commonly called red game between the tenth day of December in any year and the twelfth day of August in the succeeding year, or any bustard between the first day of March and the first day of September in any year, every such person shall, on conviction of any such offence before two justices of the peace, forfeit and pay, for every head of game so killed or taken, such sum of money, not exceeding [level 1 on the standard scale] as to the said justices shall seem meet,...; and if any person, with intent to destroy or injure any game, shall at any time put or cause to be put any poison or poisonous ingredient on any ground, whether open or inclosed, where game usually resort, or in any highway, every such person shall, on conviction thereof before two justices of the peace, forfeit and pay such sum of money, not exceeding [level 1 on the standard scale] as to the said justices shall seem meet...

Section 35 of the Malicious Damage Act 1861: 35 Placing wood, etc, on railway, taking up rails, etc, turning points, showing or hiding signals, etc, with intent to obstruct or overthrow any engine, etc

Whosoever shall unlawfully and maliciously put, place, cast, or throw upon or across any railway any wood, stone, or other matter or thing, or shall unlawfully and maliciously take up, remove, or displace any rail, sleeper, or other matter or thing belonging to any railway, or shall unlawfully and maliciously turn, move, or divert any points or other machinery belonging to any railway, or shall unlawfully and maliciously make or show, hide or remove, any signal or light upon or near to any railway, or shall unlawfully and maliciously do or cause to be done any other matter or thing, with intent, in any of the cases aforesaid, to obstruct, upset, overthrow, injure, or destroy any engine, tender, carriage, or truck using such railway, shall be guilty of felony, and being convicted thereof shall be liable, at the discretion of the court, to be kept in penal servitude for life... or to be imprisoned...

2 comments:

James E. Petts said...

For obscure offences, try looking in the neather-regions of the Road Vehicles (Construction and Use) Regulations 1986: highlights include fitting a reversing alarm to a vehicle under a certain weight and using ice-cream van chimes other than to sell ice-cream...

Anonymous said...

I always love the old Town Police clauses Act 1847 for really obscure offences.......