Competence and Compellability

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shazv
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#1
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#1
If a witness, say a spouse of the accused, is not compelled to give evidence in court, does this mean that they are not allowed or that they are just not forced to. So, they could give evidence against the accused if they wanted bu they didn't have to.
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BFG9000
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#2
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#2
(Original post by shazv)
If a witness, say a spouse of the accused, is not compelled to give evidence in court, does this mean that they are not allowed or that they are just not forced to. So, they could give evidence against the accused if they wanted bu they didn't have to.
To put it plainly - you do not have to snitch on your close relatives. You can but you do not have to. It works the other way around too, wife as a alibi witness for her husband isn't something of much value, because she is a close relative with an obvious interest.
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shazv
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#3
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#3
What would it mean then (under PACE s.80(A)) that they are compellable if it is a specified offence?
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RV3112
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#4
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#4
(Original post by shazv)
If a witness, say a spouse of the accused, is not compelled to give evidence in court, does this mean that they are not allowed or that they are just not forced to. So, they could give evidence against the accused if they wanted bu they didn't have to.
Spouses (and Civil partners) are generally competent to give evidence for either side in criminal proceedings. This means that the court will allow them to testify.

However, generally in criminal cases, they can only be compelled (forced) to testify by the defence.

The prosecution can compel testimony of a spouse only in limited circumstances, where the case involves: (Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984, s.80(3))
a) An allegation of an assault on, or injury or a threat of injury to the spouse or civil partner;
b) An allegation of an assault on, or injury or a threat of injury to a person who was at the material time under the age of sixteen years;
c) An alleged sexual offence against a victim who was at the material time under the age of sixteen years; or
d) Attempting, conspiring or aiding and abetting, counselling and procuring to commit the offences in the categories above.

Note that if the spouse is a co-accused in the case, they are not competent to testify against the other spouse unless their case has been disposed of.
Last edited by RV3112; 3 years ago
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shazv
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#5
Report Thread starter 3 years ago
#5
Amazing thank you so much! This cleared it up a lot. My lecturer tends to convolute things a lot which makes it 10x more confusing than it should be and I couldn't make heads nor tails of the textbook. You were a great help!
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