AQA law unit 2 booklet criminal courts and sentencing

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The Criminal Courts: Procedure and Sentencing
There are three types of Criminal Offences
1. A Summary Offence
Summary offences are seen as relatively minor offences triable only in a
magistrate's court. Examples of Summary offences include common assault or
battery, threatening behaviour and nearly all-motoring offences. The maximum
sentence for a summary offence is 6 months.
2. Triable Either Way Offences
Either Way offences can be tried in either a magistrates court or the Crown
Court, it is usually the choice of the defendant but the magistrates can order a
case to be tried in the crown court if they feel their sentencing powers are
insufficient. Examples include s47 ABH assault or battery and s20
GBH/Wounding under OAPA 1861. Most pre-trial matters are dealt with in a
magistrate's court.
3. Indictable Only Offences
Indictable Offences are the most serious offences, and must be tried in a Crown
Court before a judge and jury of 12. Examples include s18 OAPA 1861 GBH ,
murder, rape and robbery.
Offence Classification Court
Assault Summary Magistrates
Battery Summary Magistrates
S47 ABH Either Way Magistrates/Crown Court
S20 GBH Either Way Magistrates/Crown Court
S18 GBH Indictable Only Crown Court
Common law assault and battery are summary offences, s47 and s20 are either
way and s18 is indictable only.
The Burden of Proof
It is the responsibility of the prosecution to prove the Burden of Proof to the
satisfaction of either the magistrates or the jury. The proof of burden is that
the defendant must be proved to have had the actus reus and mens rea at the
time of committing the crime for which the defendant is being charged.
The Standard of Proof
The Standard of Proof is beyond reasonable doubt. This means that the
magistrates or jury must be sure (beyond reasonable doubt) that the
defendant committed the act (actus reus) with the necessary guilty state of
mind (mens rea). If it cannot be proven beyond reasonable doubt then the
defendant will be acquitted.

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Magistrates Jurisdiction in Criminal Matters
In criminal cases magistrates are responsible for the following:
Deciding on defendants' bail applications, it is usually the courts
responsibility to decide on bail and not the police.
Pre-trail hearings and trails for all summary cases, and any triable
either way cases in which the defendant agrees to a summary trial
and/or the magistrates accept jurisdiction.
Sentencing any defendant who pleads or is found guilty in a
magistrate's court.…read more

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At this hearing both the prosecution and the defence make a
case as to where the trial should be held.
The magistrates and the lawyers will also explain to the defendant that:
He may state whether he wishes to plead guilty or not guilty
If he pleads guilty, the court will proceed to sentence, he may then
still be committed to sentence in the crown court if the magistrates
feel that their powers in sentencing are not sufficient.…read more

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Any point of law, such as the definition of the mens rea of the offence.
Questions as to the admissibility of evidence: it might be that a
statement was not obtained following the correct procedure
The estimated length of the trial and the availability of witnesses and
counsel, so that a suitable date or dates can be found.
These matters are dealt with in a questionnaire that must be completed by
both parties.…read more

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Payment of surety, a sum of money, or a security such as property that
is paid to the court and can be seized if bail is broken.
Surrendering passport to ensure the defendant doesn't abscond.
Examples of post release bail conditions:
Reporting to the police at given times.…read more

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The idea that a sentence can deter people from committing crimes in the
future, can either be a specific deterrence to the individual offender, or a
general deterrence in which the idea is the punishment will deter society as a
whole from committing the crime, for example the harsh punishments after the
London riots to deter rioters.
Prevention of Crime and Protection
Works to protect the public by putting the offenders in prison so they cannot
harm the public.…read more

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There are two types of discharge:
1. Absolute discharge, which is where the court takes no further action
against the offender but the discharge will appear on the defendants
criminal record.
2. Conditional Discharge, this is where the defendant is released on certain
conditions and convicted without sentence, so long as he does not break
the conditions or re-offend in the certain time period.…read more

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How the Court Selects a Sentence
Once a defendant has been found guilty the court function is to select an
appropriate sentence. At the stage of sentencing the defendants previous
convictions are made available to the judge.
Pre sentence report
These are normally required for the most serious offences, and are put
together by the probation service. Probation evaluates the seriousness of the
offence and aims and purpose of a suitable sentence.…read more


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