Inferences from silence—failure to account for substance, object, mark or place
Inferences from silence—failure to account for substance, object, mark or place

The following Corporate Crime guidance note provides comprehensive and up to date legal information covering:

  • Inferences from silence—failure to account for substance, object, mark or place
  • Adverse inferences
  • Failure to account for objects, substances or marks
  • Failure to account for presence
  • Access to legal advice
  • Differences in statutory provisions from drawing inferences from failure to mention a fact relied on at trial

The Criminal Justice and Public Order Act 1994 (CJPOA 1994) permits the court to draw an adverse inference from the failure of a defendant, following their arrest to account for an object, substance or mark etc, or to account for their presence at a place at or about the time of an offence.

Adverse inferences

CJPOA 1994 provides that a court may draw such 'inferences as appear proper' from a person's failure to account for the relevant matter. It gives no further guidance on what this phrase means but the principles are the same as for inferences from silence under CJPOA 1994, s 34.

See Practice Note: Inferences from silence: failure to mention facts.

No adverse inferences can be drawn unless the jury is satisfied that a defendant has failed or refused to provide an explanation or where the explanation given is implausible. Difficulties may arise where a defendant has given a partial account. For example, in R v Compton the court held that the defendant did not account for the presence of heroin on bank notes found at his home in a safe by a bare statement that he was a heroin user.

CJPOA 1994 stipulates that a person cannot be convicted of an offence or committed for trial to the Crown Court on the basis of adverse inferences alone. Neither can