Defendants Required To Reveal Nationality in Magistrates Courts
Under section 162 of the Policing and Crime Act 2017, all defendants appearing for their first hearing in the magistrates’ court now have to reveal their nationality.
The change, which came into effect on 13 November 2017, has resulted in fears that trials will become prejudiced.
The change is part of the government’s drive to deport more foreign criminals, and failure to disclose the information required could result in a custodial sentence of up to one year.
Civil rights groups, and some magistrates alike, fear that the change will erode a defendant’s trust in the impartiality of the justice system.
HM Courts and Tribunals Service issued the following guidance to magistrates:
In the magistrates court, the requirement must be imposed at the first hearing in the case where the defendant is present. The magistrates court may also impose this requirement at any subsequent hearing where, for example, the defendant did not appear at the first hearing.
The Home Office remains committed to begin deportation action as quickly as possible where it identifies a foreign national offender.
While only time will tell whether this change will adversely affect a defendant’s right to a fair, unprejudiced trial, here at Forrest Williams we would advise that it is wise – for anyone who fears that their nationality will affect their ability to receive a fair trial – to instruct a specialist legal team.
If you need a strong, proactive and unprejudiced legal team, call us now on 01623 600645.