Private Prosecutions for Criminality - the Parameters
Disclaimer: This information has been put together to be as correct, as far as is known, at the time of writing. The author is not responsible for errors which may invalidate what is written in the light of future knowledge. As always ... check out everything for yourself. But it is hoped that this guide will direct you straight to those places and things to check.
Errata March 2013: Embedded as appropriate
Update April 2013: Embedded as appropriate
Update September, 2013: Links to useful information related to Private Prosecutions.
Update October, 2012: Example of how to obtain an appointment (Hearing) in a Magistrates Court, in order to speak to a District Judge and present indictments for signature.
Further Update October, 2012: Some Common Law offences.
Update November, 2013: Judicial Review result.Preamble
This is written as of June, 2012. It is based on the first-hand experience of someone who currently has at least one Private Prosecution is an 'advanced' state, with others in the pipeline.
First of all, your Right to a Private Prosecution against some other Human Being - who has 'wronged' you - is one of the ways of providing your Remedy, in (The Common) Law. This is your way of achieving the Remedy of seeing someone imprisoned for what they did to you. An alternative Remedy is the Common Law Commercial Lien, whereby you simply claim your own 'damages'. Whichever Remedy you choose, depends on how aggrieved you feel. The Private Prosecution method is used when you feel that you would wish to see someone imprisoned, and thus prevented from doing the same thing to others, in the future.
The Statute that created the Crown Prosecution Service actually re-states your Right to Private Prosecutions. The reason being that The Common Law provides you with that Right.
In one sense it is far simpler than you may imagine i.e. the 'mechanics' of getting one started. On the other hand you would be required to take the role of Prosecutor - and all that that means. You would have to feel competent to deal directly with a Judge, a Jury, and Barristers (on the other side) opposing you, and trying to cozy up with the Judge.
So ... yes ... you would need all your wits about you. However, always remember that you can give "Power of Attorney" to someone who you feel would be more competent in that respect. (This would have to be someone you fully, and unequivocally trust).
IT IS ESSENTIAL THAT YOU HAVE SUFFICIENT EVIDENCE TO BACK UP YOUR CLAIMS ... in the form of Documents, Audio and/or Video Recordings, etc. Don't even think about starting up one of these without - basically - 'case closed' evidence to hand.
There is a summary of the procedure at the bottom of this article.
Overview of the Mechanics
You need to prepare the Indictment(s) you will use. You would prepare one for each Defendant. Here is a sample, based on an unlawful arrest at someone's home, by two Police Officers. Stick to that format.
Make copies to take to any Magistrates Court, along with sufficient evidence to create at least a prima facie (i.e. 'initial') case against the POTENTIAL Defendants.
Actually you'll be taking the copies to a Star Chamber, called a Magistrates Court.
There is a space at the bottom of the Indictment for a Signature. You will need the Signature of either
(a) A Clerk of the Court, or
(b) A Justice of the Peace i.e. Magistrate, or
(c) A Judge.
Until this Signature Point there is no case, you are simply making an Application (Petition), and there are no Defendants.
Once you have that Signature, the case is ongoing, and the Magistrates Court will set a date for a 'Summary' Hearing, and issue Summonses to all Parties concerned. (The 'system' will deal with this [Errata March 2103: The Magistrates Court may not issue Summonses to all Parties concerned. They will set a data for the Hearing, and they will inform you. You may find it necessary to copy this information to the Parties on your Indictments]). At this point you ARE the Prosecutor (i.e. Accuser), the Defendants ARE the Accused.
The function of the Summary Hearing will be either to hear your claims IF THEY ARE -NOT- INDICTABLE i.e. NOT COMMON LAW - claims. If your claims ARE indictable, and thus Common Law claims, then a Magistrates Court has no Common Law jurisdiction, and so cannot - in any way, shape, or form - investigate (or otherwise 'deal with') such claims. They may try ... but you need to tell them they don't have any jurisdiction OTHER THAN to pass it up to Crown Court, which is what they must do. (The Clerk of the Court will know this, you can be sure).
Eventually the Crown Court will issue Summonses to the relevant Parties, and fix a date for the first Hearing. At this Hearing, the Defendants will apply to have the case dismissed. You will therefore need to provide the evidence you have in order to back up your claims. There will be no Jury at this point. You will need to convince the Judge to agree that you have sufficient evidence, and to agree that the Defendants should stand Trial in front of a Jury.
At the actual Trial (in front of the Petty Jury) you will be the Prosecutor, and will be the one questioning the Defendant(s), and providing the evidence to convict. They will be on the Witness Stand, under Oath to tell the Truth, the Whole Truth, etc. under penalty of perjury if you catch them out in a lie. You will need to convince the Jury of the rightfulness of your claims against the Defendant(s).
There is one very essential thing to remember, and it comes back to your stack of evidence. The Common Law 'bar' for a "guilty" Verdict is set very high. It is actually the highest. It is "beyond reasonable doubt". Please Note: That's not "reasonable doubt" ... that is "BEYOND reasonable doubt". That's as near to the word "certain" as makes very little difference. You need to have the Defendants "bang to rights", with all the necessary evidence, and with no "wriggle room" for their Barrister to find. All of which is a (reasonable) pre-requisite for obtaining the Signature in the first place.
In order to kick-start the process (as explained above) you will need to obtain one of the three required Signatures that are possible from a Magistrates Court. If your claims are INDICTABLE only, then ANY MAGISTRATES COURT will do. Please bear in mind that The Common Law covers every conceivable situation, and it's always a good idea to stick to the Common Law 'waters', because this means your claims will be indictable, your compass can be set, and can be relied upon. Consequently, in the case of Common Law claims, if you are refused at one Magistrates Court, there is nothing to stop you trying others. There is no limit to this. You may have to keep trying until you succeed. (Don't be surprised to be given the run-around. Be surprised if you AREN'T!)
(June, 2012: We are currently looking into the use of Grand Juries to provide the required Signature. Historically - prior to the mid-1930s - this was the method one would use. Grand Juries are still lawful - it's just that "the system" prefers the Road-Blocking mechanisms of Magistrates Courts, Judges, the CPS, and the IPCC, etc. We fully intend to circumvent this Road Block with the resumption of the Common Law-provided Grand Jury mechanism).
How much does this cost?
Nothing. A Private CIVIL Prosecution has fees attached ...but a Private CRIMINAL Prosecution doesn't have any fees attached. The Magistrates Court may argue about this. You will need to suggest to them (POLITELY!) to go to their Fees Schedule, and read the word "Civil" at the top ... and carefully and kindly point out that your PP is a CRIMINAL one.
What actually happens when I take my Indictments to a Magistrates Court?
At the Enquires Desk you ask to see a Clerk of the Court. When they ask "Why?" you say "Because I wish to lodge a Private Prosecution". They will arrange for a short sit-down with a Clerk of the Court. You go through your Indictment with him or her. If they can see that you are serious, and have all the necessary paperwork, they will do one of three things:
(1) Sign your Indictments there and then - if they have the bottle (this would be HIGHLY UNUSUAL!) However, in this case, that's all you'd need to do. The 'system' will then take over.
(2) Or tell you to wait while they arrange a short Court hearing for you (generally in front of a District Judge, or possibly Magistrates), there & then (so be prepared for that ... it has happened!) ... or
(3) Arrange for that kind of Hearing within a day or so.
You have to accept what they say.
You will get your Hearing. You will need to explain your Indictments to a Judge or a Bench of Magistrates.
Then one of three possible things will happen:
(i) You'll get your Signature ... in which case that's all you need to do.
(ii) You'll get a refusal ... in which case you just say "Thanks, and thank you for your time" ... and then go to some other Magistrates Court. They might tell you what they found wrong. You'd need to look into those aspects, and correct them. They might even tell you that - if those things were corrected - they would be prepared to sign your Indictments.
(iii) You'll get an adjournment. This would be for a reason that the Judge/Magistrates would be making up on the spot. Simply because they don't know how to deal with it, and they want to buy time. For the simple reason that they can always refuse your Indictments, and don't actually have to give you any reasons why. They can just say: "No". So, if they adjourn, it's because they don't know what to do.
You will probably be accused of making a "vexatious" claim.
(Unfortunately - at the time of writing - we have not had the chance to use the following argument, but it will be used at the first opportunity) The argument, when accused of making a "vexatious" claim. is this: "Yes, my claim certainly is vexatious [Update April 2013: It might be better to say 'Yes, my claim is due to myself being aggrieved by being forced to suffer a tort']. I am aggrieved at what happened, and I'm simply requesting my entitlement to Remedy in Law (as opposed to - for example - using my fists!). The fact that I'm VEXED [Update April 2013: 'aggrieved'?] is what ensures my claim isn't FRIVOLOUS. If I wasn't vexed [Update April 2013: 'aggrieved'?], and didn't care about the outcome, then my claim WOULD BE frivolous. I understand that the Courts don't want to waste valuable time on FRIVOLOUS claims. I think, perhaps - and with respect - it was a slip of the tongue, and the adjective you needed to use was 'frivolous', as opposed to 'vexatious'? I repeat, if I didn't care about the outcome, then it would be frivolous, would it not?".
THAT WOULD MAKE THEM THINK! Particularly how many times - in the past - they've used 'vexatious' to dismiss something.
The Crown Prosecution Service (CPS)
This one of the major Road-Blocking mechanisms. They claim to have the ability to "take over any Prosecution" - and run it themselves. In one sense this could be seen as a good thing, because it would relieve you of the burden of actually Prosecuting, and leaving it to "professionals".
However, is actual reality, it is a very bad thing.
For a couple of reasons:
Firstly, the "professionals" would be "Officers of the Court" ... which you are not. This means that your claims would be the subject of the "horse trading" aka "corruption of honourable Justice" that is now endemic to the Judicial process.
In the second case - and there is an example of this - they may take over your case and immediately shut it down in order to protect members of "the system". You will generally be prosecuting "members of the system", and therefore that's the last thing you want to happen.
At the time of writing there is a Judicial Review ongoing about precisely this aspect. It is hoped that the result of the JR will declare that, if the CPS takes over a case, they must pursue it vigorously, using the evidence provided, and not just shut it down ... otherwise to keep their hands off it. The Statute in this respect doesn't given them that Right. It gives them the Right to take over, but seems to be written on the assumption that they will proceed honourably. The Statute doesn't take into account any possible dishonourable action, such as "shutting a case down, in order to protect the guilty". The ability to do that is nothing more than "CPS self-generated Policy". And that's what the Judicial review is all about.
The result of the Judicial Review is now known. The CPS backed off, in relation to the Private Criminal Prosecution that was the subject of the review.
AND THEY COMPLETELY BACKED OFF. By that I mean that they have not offered the Litigant any support at all (either in financial terms, to hire a Barrister, or to provide a CPS Barrister).
Can you say "sulking"?
(Because they had their wings severely clipped?)
The circumstances were that a Crown Court Judge had already decided that the Defendant should stand Trial, in front of a Jury. This was based on evidence that was placed before the Judge. Nevertheless, the CPS waded in, claimed to take over, and claimed to see 'no evidence', and proposed to offer 'no evidence', and thus close the case down.
These circumstances are not unique. In fact they are likely to be most (if not all) circumstances.
Very simply because the Judge would throw a case out, if there was no evidence.
So the CPS would only TRY to become involved (in order to protect the guilty) if a Judge had already agreed that a Trial should proceed.
The result of the Judicial Review says - to the CPS - If, under these circumstances, you take over the case, you MUST proceed with diligence. Either that, or leave things alone.
(In the case in point, they decided to leave things alone).
So … we don't need to be frightened of what the CPS can do. It can't do anything but act honourably (or not act at all).
But isn't the Crown Court just another part of the corrupt Judicial process?
Actually no. Our first-hand experience of both Crown & High Courts is that there is the required measure of due diligence, honour, and attention to detail that we expect from our Judiciary.
To a large extent, anyway. Because (presumably) a lot of it takes place in front of Juries.
In fact the only deviation into corruption is the point where a Judge will try to 'direct' a Jury to come to "the State-required" Verdict, as opposed to a Verdict of their own.
For this reason you, as Prosecutor, may have to step in an correct the situation, pointing out - to the Jury - they have no need to do what the Judge tells them, but have every right to make their own decisions based on what was presented to them by both sides. And to explain "Jury Nullification" to them.
It is, therefore, essential that you bone up on the Rights and Duties of Juries, see here. so that you, at least, know what you may need to explain to them.
(No ... you won't be rebutted by either the Defending Barrister or the Judge. The Judge will actually know you are right, and the Defending Barrister will either also know, or won't have a clue)
Points to remember
A. If, in some amorphous 'organisation', you can't specifically identify the person who sent you an unlawful demand (say), and either didn't sign it, or used the usual 'squiggle', you can always charge the Directors of the company with 'vicarious liability', and having attempted to perpetrate a fraud upon you. 'Fraud' is, of course, a Common Law misdemeanour, and the Fraud Act 2006 is a brilliant 'catalogue' of what constitutes 'frauds'. The names of the Directors can be discovered by paying £1 to Companies House, and downloading the "Current Appointments Report" for the company. A suitable letter to each Director, pointing out their 'vicarious liability', could well be enough to elicit the name of the actual letter-writer. You can write back to the Director saying "Thanks very much for the information ... but you can still be charged as a Accomplice, in Law. I suggest you & your company mend their ways immediately". (Which is the same thing as "putting them out of business" if they are Debt Collectors).
B. In the situation where something ... something they had ... such as an Arrest Warrant ... "goes missing/they can't find it", then you can invoke the doctrine of 'spoilation' ... which means "That's OK, if you can't find it now, then you can't. However, we can now place the worse possible interpretation on that situation, which is that (i) You have lost it deliberately, because (ii) It contains something the condemns you. And we are entitled to take that interpretation, unless you can - suddenly, magically & mysteriously - find it again!".
C. You only need one good charge/indictment - that sticks. There is nothing to stop you adding others while 'they' are languishing in prison.
Make sure you have the evidence. If you haven't kept recordings, make sure you have the documentary evidence in paper form.
Create the Indictment to the format of the template linked above. (Certainly, at first) stick to The Common Law ... "Misconduct in Public Office" is an extremely good one.
Do the round of Magistrates Courts (as necessary) to get your Indictment signed.
If you don't feel confident about doing the Prosecution yourself, find someone to whom you can give "Power of Attorney". But make sure that they know, and fully understand, every single nuance and detail that you, yourself, know. Otherwise the whole thing could fall flat on its face, if you withheld something important. DON'T DO THIS UNLESS YOU CAN STAND FAIRLY AND SQUARELY ON THE PURE, UNVARNISHED, TRUTH, because you can expect that Truth to be fully tested by the Defendant's Barrister.
One final note about Barristers
They know nothing of value, and are "pussies" if you stick to the Truth. In this way they can be made to disappear with their tails between their legs.
However, NEVER ACCEPT THEIR 'BUNDLE' - which they may offer you before going into Court (or even in Court). They may say "You don't know what I'm going to say!", and your reply is "I don't care what you say, I'm standing on the Truth, so whatever you say makes absolutely no difference whatsoever". Your Prosecution Pack/Bundle (i.e. your evidence) is what counts. If they want to use their Defence Pack/Bundle that's their business, but it's not yours. If you start down the road of accepting their Bundle ... and using it ... you've let them get a foothold ... you've actually started the 'horse-trading' process (of which they are past masters!).
Veronica, June 10th 2012
Partial List of Common Law Offences
Breach of the peace
Bribery and corruption - public offices
Common assault <<< which can be 'mental' i.e. If you simply -FEEL- "threatened for your own safety, WITHOUT LAWFUL EXCUSE for them to do that".
e.g. "menacing advance, with fist raised", "threatening to break your door down", etc.
Conspire to corrupt public morals
Conspire to defraud
Conspire to outrage public decency
Conspire to pervert course of public justice
Contempt of Court << Anyone running proceedings in a Magistrates or County Court is in Contempt of a REAL Court (de Jure)
Corrupt public morals
Dispose of a corpse to obstruct a coroner
Escape from lawful custody
Embracery << nobbling a Jury << which MUST comprise any Judge telling a Jury to come to a verdict "according to some Statutory provision"
False imprisonment / kidnapping
Misconduct in a judicial / public office
Misprision of treason
Murder / manslaughter
Obstruct a coroner
Obstruct the course of justice
Pervert the course of public justice
Remove a corpse from a churchyard/burial ground
Rescue a prisoner from lawful custody
Veronica, 18th October 2012
Update September, 2013: Links to information related to Private Prosecutions.
In the light of what happened at Cambridge Magistrates' Court, it obvious that while - on the one hand - we should expect a Magistrates' Court to know their business, it is a fact that "them knowing their business" cannot be relied upon.
Consequently it is advisable to read the links below, and TAKE COPIES OF THEM WITH YOU ... such that the information can be presented ... as may become necessary.
These links are from 'offical' and/or 'reasonable' sources, and there should (therefore) be no argument about:
(a) How to Lay Information for a Private Prosecution, and
(b) What the Magistrates' Court is supposed to do about it.
Information from the Health & Safety Executive
Guide supplied by McCue & Partners
Veronica, 11th September, 2013