How to obtain name suppression in criminal cases

Introduction

If you have been charged with a criminal offence and are awaiting trial or sentencing, you may apply to the court for an order suppressing publication of your name.

When may a suppression order be granted?

An order for a permanent suppression is difficult to get. It is used sparingly as there is a strong presumption by the court that it is in the public interest to make the names available.

The courts will usually grant a permanent suppression order only if publishing your name would directly lead to identifying a complainant, such as in the case of incest or other forms of sexual abuse.

The guidelines for when judges may exercise their discretion to order name suppression are set out in the CRIMINAL JUSTICE ACT 1985.

Temporary orders

The court may, however, grant a temporary order preventing publication of your name for a limited period of time (say, 48 hours). Where temporary orders are granted, it is usually to give defendants the opportunity to inform family, friends or their employers of their situation.

What is the effect of an order for name suppression?

The effect of an order is that all publication of your name, address or occupation is prohibited. A person who breaches the order faces a fine of up to $1,000.

Driving offences concerning alcohol and drugs

Under the LAND TRANSPORT ACT 1998, the names of drivers convicted on alcohol- or drug-related offences may not be suppressed.

Cautionary notes
  • If you are facing criminal charges, it is important that you seek legal advice (see How to: Facing criminal changes). Your lawyer will be able to make the application for name suppression to the District or High Court on your behalf.
  • Your lawyer will also be able to tell you how strong your case is and whether or not it is advisable to apply for a suppression order. Many court cases are not reported in the newspapers; but if you apply for name suppression unsuccessfully, this may bring adverse attention to your case.


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