If you are over the age of 18 then there is a possibility your name could appear in the media. Press reporting via social media can happen very quickly these days, and it is sometimes one of the last things on the minds of those facing criminal charges.
WILL THE PRESS BE IN COURT?
Journalists often attend court hearings to cover the proceedings. When they arrive, a reporter will take notes and document what is happening inside the court room. They use these notes to ensure the accuracy of their stories and to show that their report is/was correct. Newspapers regularly report on court proceedings in order to ensure that justice is served fairly. The general principle is that it is important that the public is informed of what occurs so that they can see justice in action, also known as "open justice." Local reporters sell stories to other papers, but don't think that just because you appear in court in a different town/city from where you live, the local press won't know about it. It is important to note that even if the press is not present, this does not mean that your case will not be reported.
WHAT CAN BE PUBLISHED BY THE PRESS?
Journalists are normally permitted to report on anything said in court or presented as evidence. They are not required to verify the validity of the evidence presented, but journalists must accurately report what was submitted as evidence. A newspaper usually publishes information about the defendants and witnesses, such as their name, age, and address, when covering a court case. However, they will normally only report part of the address (i.e. John Smith of High Street) but there are no restrictions stopping the press from publishing the full address. The reason why this information is published is so that the general public do not confuse these people with someone of the same name. Newspapers will often publish photographs of people involved in court proceedings. This is usually provided by the police who will give the journalist the mug shot taken when initially arrested. Photographs are used to assist the general public in identifying the people involved. If the police cannot provide a photograph then it is not uncommon for journalists to obtain a photograph from social media platforms such as Facebook or Instagram as these photos are considered as being in the public domain. If the journalists cannot obtain a photograph online then they may send photographers to wait outside the court building. Taking photographs of people leaving court who are involved in a court case is considered as being in the 'public interest'. The Editors Code of Practice does not stop reporters from doing this, however they must not harass people when taking a photograph.
WHAT CAN'T BE PUBLISHED BY THE PRESS?
Anyone under the age of 17 will usually appear in the Youth Court first. There are specific laws prohibiting the publication of a person under the age of 18 who is a victim, witness, or defendant in a youth court case. The law prohibits publication of their name, address, school, or any other information that could be used to identify them. In some cases, however, this restriction can be lifted. If a minor appears in adult court, the prosecutor will seek an injunction prohibiting the identification of the minor. The Editors Code of Practice prohibits editors from releasing details that may identify a sexual assault survivor. Journalists are not allowed to name these individuals or publish details that may contribute to their identification. This may include information such as their age, occupation, address, or specifics of the alleged crime (such as the defendant's relationship with the victim). If a family or an acquaintance of a person accused of a crime is not relevant to the case, newspapers are usually prohibited from naming them. Journalists are entitled to name them if there is a public interest in doing so. Journalists are usually able to report on those who are called in court or who go to court to help a defendant.
WHAT CAN I DO IF I WANT AN ARTICLE REMOVING FROM A NEWSPAPERS WEBSITE?
This is a question we are asked a lot and are generally unable to assist with. If you wish for an article to be removed, you need to contact the newspaper direct. However, you should not be surprised if the newspapers refuse to remove an article about you. This is because it is felt that reporting on a court case is considered in the public interest. Even if the article is old many newspapers feel it is important to have an accessible archive of all the stories that they have published. You may have legal rights to have links to stories about your convictions deleted from search engines if your convictions have been "spent." These articles can be removed from search results if you make a formal request to an internet search engine. These articles will, however, continue to be available on newspaper websites. If you are concerned about the information which appears on search engines, you should get advice from the search engines themselves.