Crime- criminal procedure

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Classification of Offences

Summary Offences- Minor offences, Tried in the Magistrates' Court. Examples are Assault/ Battery.

Either way Offences- Mid range offences, Tried in the Magistrates' or Crown Court. Examples are S47/ S20.

Indictable Offences- Most serious offences, Tried in the Crown Court. Example is S18.

Burden of Proof

The burden proof relates to the question of who must prove what in court. The general principle is that it is for the prosecution to prove that the defendant committed the crime. The defendant does not therefore have to show that s/he is not guilty. Therefore - The burden of proof is on the prosecution.

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Classification of Offences

Standard of Proof

The standard of proof relates to the question of how certain the magistrate or the jury has to be in order to find the defendant guilty.In criminal law the standard of proof is; Guilty beyond reasonable doubt. The magistrates or the jury need therefore a high level of certainty that the defendant committed the crime before they should convict. The judge in court will often now explain the words beyond reasonable doubt to mean that the jury must be 'sure' that the defendant committed the crime.

The Criminal Procedure Rules 2005 - set out guiding principles with the aim of achieving justice and providing a fair trial.

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Court Procedure for Summary Offences

Procedure at Magistrates'Court.

  • Defendant recieves a summons to court or is charged at the Police Station. The Crown Prosecution Service checks the evidence and normally makes the decision and charges the defendant.
  • Defendant is summonsed to attend the Magistrate's Court where s/he can plead Guilty and a hearing is arranged for sentencing
  • D attends the 'Plea before venue' - If D pleads not guilty, Preliminary hearing by magistrates' to determine pre-trial issues e.g. whether to grant Bail or remand in custody.
  • Application for public funding to pay for legal representation ie. Solicitor/ Barristers fees
  • Date arranged for Trial.
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Court Procedure for Either way Offences

Procedure at Magistrates Court

  • Defendant recieves a summons to court or is charged at the Police Station. The Crown Prosecution Service normally checks the evidence and charges D.
  • If the defendant pleads guilty a hearing is arranged at the Magistrates' Court. The sentencing will however be carried out in the Crown Court if the Magistrates' powers of sentencing are insufficient.
  • 'Plea before venue'- If D pleads not guilty, preliminary hearing by magistrates to determine pre-trial issues eg. whether to grant Bail remand in custody.
  • Application for public funding for legal representation
  • If D pleads not guilty- mode of trial hearing by the Magistrates to determine if the trial will be heard in the Magistrates' Court or the Crown Court.
  • If D selects Magistratres trial - Date is arranged for trial. If D selects Crown they follow the procedure below
  • Plea and Case Management Hearing. (PCMH). The defendant enters a plea. If D pleads guilty, sentencing can take place immediately.

 

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Court Procedure for Indictable Offences

  • Where D pleads Not Guilty, the judge acts as Case Manager and ensures all required information has been provided in order for a trial date to be arranged. A questionnaire is completed by the Barristers for both the prosecution and the defence to confirm the evidence avalable.
  • In the PCMH the D may request an advance indictation of sentencing in order to decide if a change to a guilty plea would be appropriate and result in a lesser sentence than would be the case if found guilty
  • Judge fixes a date for trial and date is sent to all parties

Initial Procedure in Magistrates Court- Indictable Offences

  • D receives a summons to court or is charged at the Police Station. The Crown Prosecution Service normally checks the evidence and charges D.
  • If the D pleads guilty a hearing is arranged for Sentencing at the Crown Court.
  • If D pleads Not Guilty, Preliminary hearing by magistrates to determine pre-trial issues eg. whether to grant Bail or remand in custody.
  • Application for public funding to pay for legal representation
  • Committal proceedings for trial at the Crown Court

 

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Court Procedure for Indictable Offences

Procedure once case is recieved at Crown Court

  • Plea and Case Management Hearing (PCMH). The defendant enters a plea. If D pleads guilty, sentencing can take place immediately.
  • Where D pleads Not Guilty, The judge acts as Case Manager and ensures all required information has been provided in order for a trial date to be arranged. A questionnaire is completed by the Barristers for both to confirm the evidence available.
  • In the PCMH the D may request an advance indication of sentencing in order to decide if a change to a guilty plea would be appropriate and result in a lesser sentence than would be the case if found guilty.
  • Judge fixes a date for trial which is sent to all parties
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Bail

Definition - release of a defendant from custody until his next court appearance.

Unconditional Bail - no conditions attached

Conditional Bail - Conditions attached- eg. Reporting daily to Police Station. Restriction of Movement- eg. Into specified areas or Remaining in the UK

Defendants have a general right to bail- Bail Act 1976 - This is to ensure a person's freedom of liberty is protected.

However court can refuse bail for a variety of reasons including;

·         The alleged offence is of a serious nature

·         Evidence against the defendant is strong

·         Defendant's character and behaviour suggests remand is required to protect the public

 

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