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Offences relating to withdrawing a statement

Information about police withdrawing a complaint made about a criminal offence.

The witness may be charged with a criminal offence if they knowingly make a false statement to police. Criminal penalties may also apply to any person who pressures a witness to withdraw a statement.

Possible criminal charges for the witness

Take care not to contradict an earlier statement

The witness should be careful not to contradict anything that they have already said in prior statements. This could leave them open to a charge of 'making a false statement' or hindering police in the conduct of their duty.

A victim who makes a statement to police giving a particular version of events who then provides an alternate version of events in the form of a statement of no complaint may be charged with criminal offences.

Possible charges that police could make against the victim include:

Making a false report to police (perjury)

There are harsh penalties for people who make false statements to police. The maximum penalty for perjury is 15 years prison.
Examples of perjury could include a victim:

  • making a statement to police giving a particular version of events, and then providing an alternate version of events in the form of a statement of no complaint
  • giving and signing a witness statement to police knowing some or all of it to be false
  • lying in an affidavit or statutory declaration, or
  • giving false evidence in court.

Maximum penalty

The maximum penalty for this offence is 15 years jail.

See s. 314(3)—Crimes Act 1958 (Vic).

Summary offence of making a false report to police

Making a false statement to police is also an offence under the summary offences Act. To be guilty of this offence the police will have to prove that a person:

  • reported an act that required investigation
  • the report was made voluntarily
  • the report was false
  • the person knew it was false.

Maximum penalty

The maximum penalty for this offence is 12 months jail.

See s. 53—Summary Offences Act 1966 (Vic).

Risks for the perpetrator if victim makes a statement of no complaint

A perpetrator of family violence who pressures a victim into making a statement of no complaint, in order to get criminal charges withdrawn, may open themselves up to further criminal charges, such as:

Attempting to pervert the course of justice

Attempting to pervert the course of justice is an offence under common law.

Maximum penalty

The maximum penalty is 25 years jail.

See s. 320—Crimes Act 1958 (Vic).

Intimidating or threatening a witness

The respondent could be charged with the offence of Intimidation or reprisals relating to involvement in criminal investigation or criminal proceeding if they try to persuade an AFM to withdraw a complaint.

Examples of behaviour that could lead to this kind of charge include:

  • using intimidation towards victim
  • engaging in conduct that arouses apprehension or fear in the victim for their safety, or
  • punishing a witness for giving evidence.

Maximum penalty

The maximum penalty is 10 years jail.

See s. 257—Crimes Act 1958 (Vic).

Breaching an intervention order

If a family violence intervention order or safety notice is in place, a perpetrator could be charged with this offence if they commit further family violence towards a protected person (usually the AFM).

‘Family violence’ includes behaviour that is physically or sexually abusive, but can also include emotional or psychological abuse, and threatening, coercive, controlling or dominating behaviour.

See What is family violence?

Maximum penalty

The maximum penalty is a $30,000 fine and/or 2 years in jail for first offence.

If the perpetrator has breached an intervention order before this the maximum penalties are $90,000 fine and/or 5 years jail for persistently breaching.

See ss.123, 123A, 125A—Family Violence Protection Act 2008 (Vic) and Breaching an order.

Harassing a witness

It is an offence to harass a witness under the Summary Offences Act 1966.

Maximum penalty

The maximum penalty is 12 months jail.

See s. 52A—Summary Offences Act 1966 (Vic)

More information

Legislation

Family Violence Protection Act 2008 (Vic)

  • s. 45—police may apply for a family violence intervention order
  • s. 123—contravention of a family violence intervention order
  • s. 123A—contravention of an order intending to cause harm or fear for safety
  • s. 125A—persistent contravention of notices and orders

See Family Violence Protection Act 2008 (Vic).

Crimes Act 1958 (Vic)

  • s. 257—intimidation or reprisals relating to involvement in criminal investigation or criminal proceeding
  • s. 314(3)—perjury
  • s. 320—maximum term of imprisonment for certain common law offences (including attempting to pervert the course of justice)

See Crimes Act 1958 (Vic).

Summary Offences Act 1966 (Vic)

  • s. 52A—offence to harass a witness
  • s. 53—making false reports to police

See Summary Offences Act 1966 (Vic).

Reference

Police Code of Practice for the Investigation of Family Violence (Code)

  • 4.1—about the criminal options
  • 4.2—investigation of family violence
  • 4.5—withdrawal of complaint criminal

See Victoria Police—Code of practice for the investigation of family violence.

Victoria Police Code of Practice Sexual Assault

  • 7.5—Procedure for no further police actions/withdrawal of report

See Victoria Police—Code of Practice—Sexual Assault.

Victoria Police Manual

Updated