Area of Law – Evidence

An Article about Giving evidence – accused standing mute

ACCUSED – standing mute
Often an accused will not give any evidence. This is often done at the advice of his lawyers because it is the prosecutor’s job to prove the case and if they have not done so then there is no reason to give evidence.

Not giving evidence is a difficult decision to make as sometimes it is clear that the jury may want to hear from the accused.It is generally done to show that the prosecution can not prove their case beyond reasonable doubt and there is no reason why the defendant should say anything.

The decision, as with any in criminal case, should be an informed decision by the accused. If you really want to give evidence you should – after reflecting on the advice you have been given.

The accused is not obliged to give evidence nor can his failure to do so be the subject of comment by the judge or the prosecutor.

Standing mute can be relevant
However standing mute can be relevant in some circumstances, such as an appeal.

“The jury is permitted, as are we, to consider that the silence of the accused permitted a more ready acceptance of the Crown case.

Moreover, the silence of the accused will be of greater weight where it appears that he alone is able to explain the true facts surrounding a relevant incident.”

R v Neiland [1992] 1 VR 57


Date: 01/09/2009