A criminal publication ban is a court order that prohibits the sharing of information about what goes on in the courtroom during a criminal trial. However, there are some exceptions to this rule. That’s why HawkLaw says it is important to speak to a lawyer when looking at a publication ban on your case.
What’s the Reason for a Criminal Publication Ban?
The primary purpose of a criminal publication ban is to protect the presumption of innocence. It ensures that the accused will have a fair trial, rather than one tainted by pre-trial publicity. However, the ban can also be ordered to protect other persons, such as victims and witnesses.
During this ban, it is illegal to:
- Publish details of the offense or any evidence presented in court.
- Discuss what happened at trial outside the courtroom, including what the accused and witnesses said or how they behaved.
- Disclose any information about preliminary inquiries.
- Discuss the identity of the accused, even if their name is already known.
When Does a Criminal Publication Ban Apply?
Criminal publication bans apply when the judge thinks the witness or victim needs protection from the public. Out of respect for the verdict, it’s illegal to describe the proceedings or publish any materials that might prejudice the jurors.
The publication ban will be lifted after some time, as set by the court order. However, if you require more information, please contact a lawyer who specializes in criminal law. They will give you more details about your case and how the publication ban applies.
How Does a Criminal Publication Ban Work?
Usually, a criminal publication ban is in effect until all appeals are done or until the judge decides the defendant can be granted an absolute discharge. However, it’s important to remember that if you have questions about your specific case.
When someone who has been found not guilty requests that their trial record and conviction be sealed, the presiding judge must decide whether they’re entitled to a publication ban or not. If so, they’re likely entitled to an absolute discharge as well – which means no criminal record and no limitations on future employment or volunteer work.
What Happens If Someone Breaks a Publication Ban?
Breaking a publication ban is considered contempt of court and can lead to serious consequences, including fines up to $25,000 and imprisonment for six months. It’s possible that even after all appeals are done and there are no more chances for an absolute discharge, breaking the ban will land you jail time.
That said, it’s clear that violating a publication ban is a very serious offence. It can result in a charge for criminal contempt of court, or in a civil action from the party that seeks enforcement of the publication ban. So, it’s advisable to speak with a lawyer if you have questions about your case.
What’s an Exception to This Rule?
The only exception to the publication ban on criminal cases is that if all appeals are done and a judge has granted an absolute discharge, there can be no more consequences for breaking the ban.
However, there are loopholes that your attorney can help you explore. For example, if you want to publish a book or write an article about your trial for educational purposes, you may not fall under the definition of a “media outlet”.
What Should I Do Now?
If you’ve recently been involved in a trial and have a question about the publication ban, it’s important that you speak with a lawyer. Your future is on the line, which means this should be taken seriously.
To be specific, you need an attorney who specializes in criminal law so they can advise you about your specific situation and how the publication ban applies to your trial. It is also worth noting that any information about a current publication ban can be confirmed by talking to court staff. They might not give legal advice, but they can give you full details about the situation.
Any issues not resolved by the court staff can be raised with the Local Managers of Court Operations. These professionals are in charge of controlling access to case documents and are the designated local media contacts. But there’s little these court officials can do beyond telling you the current status of your case.
You’re better off having your lawyers handle the nitty-gritty then get back to you with the details. This ensures the best likely outcomes and also helps you avoid the steep consequences of violating a publication ban.