How criminal cases begin: Pleading, bail and name suppression

Name suppression

What is name suppression?

Name suppression means that your name and any details that may identify you cannot be published (for example, your name cannot be published in a newspaper article about the case).

Criminal Procedure Act 2011, s 196

Note: Except in specific circumstances, the hearing of all criminal proceedings in all courts is open to the public. The principle of open justice is a key principle in the New Zealand legal system.

When is name suppression available?

Criminal Procedure Act 2011, ss 200-204

Name suppression is available in the following situations:

  • for victims and defendants in specific sexual cases, the aim being to protect the victim
  • for children under 17 who are complainants or witnesses in criminal proceedings
  • as provided in any statute – for example, section 438 of the Oranga Tamariki Act 1989 restricts publication of any proceedings of the Youth Court except with the permission of the court
  • for defendants and any other people connected to proceedings (for example, witnesses, victims), at the discretion of the court, subject to certain considerations.

What factors are relevant in deciding whether to grant name suppression?

Criminal Procedure Act 2011, ss 200-204

The court may make an order for name suppression only if it is satisfied that publishing the defendant’s name would be likely to:

  • cause extreme hardship to the defendant or people connected with the defendant (for example, the defendant’s family)
  • cast suspicion on another person that may cause them undue hardship
  • cause undue hardship to a victim
  • create a real risk of prejudicing a fair trial
  • endanger any person’s safety
  • lead to the identification of another person who has name suppression
  • prejudice the maintenance of the law or the security or defence of New Zealand.

Can a person appeal a decision to refuse name suppression?

Criminal Procedure Act 2011, ss 283-286

If the District Court refuses to grant name suppression, this decision can be appealed to the High Court (or to a District Court judge if the decision was made by Community Magistrates or Justices of the Peace). The defendant has 20 working days to appeal. The court that refused name suppression must grant interim suppression for that 20-day appeal period if the defendant satisfies the court he or she is going to appeal. If the defendant does file an appeal, the suppression continues until the appeal is decided.

Order to clear the court

Criminal Procedure Act 2011, s 197

The court also has the power to make an order to clear the court and forbid any reporting of proceedings, when this is necessary and a suppression order would not be sufficient to avoid any of the following:

  • undue disruption of the proceedings
  • risking the security or defence of New Zealand
  • a real risk of prejudice to a fair trial
  • endangering the safety of any person
  • prejudicing the maintenance of the law.

Order forbidding reporting

Criminal Procedure Act 2011, s 205

The court has the power to make orders suppressing the publication of any account of court proceedings, if the publication would be likely to:

  • cause undue hardship to any victim of the offence
  • create a real risk of prejudice to a fair trial
  • endanger the safety of any person
  • lead to the identification of a person whose name is suppressed
  • prejudice the maintenance of the law or the security or defence of New Zealand.
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