Criminal Courts and Lay People

HideShow resource information
  • Created by: kbecsx
  • Created on: 30-04-16 17:19

Magistrates' Jurisdiction

Limited civil jurisdiction - most work is criminal offences with adult D's.

Deal with 96% of criminal cases.

Issue arrest/search warrant, decide bail, conduct sending for trial hearings (indictable offences), try summary and SOME either way offences.

Deal with Young Offenders in the Youth Court (not open to the public, only those directly involved are in court).

1 of 18

Crown Court Jurisdiction

Deals exclusively with serious cases - try indictable offences and some either way offences.

May sentence cases sent to them from the Magistrates' if Magistrates' think their sentencing powers are too limited.

Hear appeals from Magistrates' on sentencing/conviction.

2 of 18

Appeals

Leave to appeal must be granted.

Possible grounds - misdirection of law/facts, failure to refer to a defence, inappropriate comments from judge, jury irregularity.

Appeals from Magistrates' - Crown Court on sentencing/conviction and High Court (QBD) on points of law. Then to Court of Appeal (Crim).

Appeal from Crown - to Court of Appeal (Crim).

Court of Appeal will allow an appeal and may order a retrial if conviction is considered unsafe. If conviction is quashed on a point of law and jury is satisfied some other offence has been committed, CoA may substitute conviction. 

Defendant appeals again - Supreme Court (must be considered to be of importance to the general public).

3 of 18

Either Way Offence - courts and appeal routes

Dealt with either in Magistrates' (3 mags) or Crown Court (judge and jury).

Case starts in Magistrates' - 'plea before venue' hearing. D gives plea.

Guilty plea - sentence given there unless Mags think powers aren't great enough then D is sent to Crown. 

Not guilty - 'mode of trial' hearing where Mags decide whether their jurisdiction is sufficient enough to deal with case. If they're happy to keep case, D is asked if they want to stay or go to Crown. If stay in Mags, where sentencing is limited to 6mnths/£5000.

Either way, Mags deal with bail and legal aid. Legal aid more likely for CC - greater sentencing powers, complexity. Means test (financial) for D to get legal aid. Bail may be given with certain conditions e.g. reporting to police weekly. No bail - D is remanded in custody but refusal reasons are needed.

Crown Court - jury must listen to evidence from prosecution and defence before making decision. Judge will sentence if verdict is given.

Appeal routes for both Courts on prev. card

4 of 18

Jury Qualification and Selection

Juries Act 1974 - aged 18-69 (increased to 74 under Criminal Justice and Courts Act 2015), be on electoral register, resident in UK/Channel Islands/Isle of Man for at least 5 years from 13.

Random selection if criteria is met at Central Jury Summoning Bureau.

20 are selected by jury usher for a trial. "Jury in waiting" will be told D's name and asked if they know them - if so, are used for another trial.

Remaining jurors have names written on cards - 12 are picked at random.

5 of 18

People unable to be a juror

Criminal custodial sentence/community service in last 10 years (are disqualified for 10 years).

Permanently disqualified - people sentenced to life or imprisonment of 5+ years.

On bail - also disqualified.

Criminal Justice Act 2003 - police, lawyers, judges and the clergy can now serve on juries.

People aged 65-74 can choose not to serve if they feel unable to perform duty.

People in Armed Forces can be excused if commanding officer writes to the court.

People can defer once up to a maximum of 12 months from deferral date e.g. holiday is booked.

Can be excused from jury service for 12 months (are taken off list then placed back on - may not be chosen at random again) - only in exceptional circumstances e.g. distressing previous trial (Soham murders)

Discharged if judge believes they can't perform duties properly e.g. poor undestanding of English

6 of 18

Challenging

Once 12 have been selected, they come to the jury box to be sworn in. Here, the prosecution and defence can challenge any juror(s).

Prosecution - "stand by the crown" where the juror is put at the end of the list of potential jurors so are unlikely to be used.

Defence - "for cause". 1973 Practice Statement by Lord Chief Justice states the reason MAY NOT include race, religion, political beliefs or occupation. Only likely to be successful where juror is personally known. Occurred in R v Sprason where wife of a prison guard where D was held was on the jury. Conviction was quashed as judge did not allow juror to stand down - conviction deemed unsafe.

"To the array" - whole jury is challenged if considered to be biased/unrepresentative. Happened in "Romford Jury" where 9 of 12 were from the same part of London - deemed unrepresentative

Can also be vetted in advance (prosecution and defence). Can ask for additional background checks to vet them for loyalty or do police checks. Usually done in the case of national security and Attorney General's consent is needed. Routine police checks can be done to eliminate those disqualified.

7 of 18

Role of the jury

Offer D the opportunity to be tried by the equals - role can simply be seen to give a guilty/not guilty verdict.

Determine the facts and then apply the law (as explained by the judge) and determine verdict.

Should be unanimous but ajority can be accepted if enough time has elapsed (2h 10m). Foreperson is elected to give the verdict to the court.

Majority verdicts introduced due to fear of jury nobbling - jurors bribed by friends/family of D to vote a not guilty verdict. Would cause a stalemate where jury were unable to reach decision - not unanimous. Only one person would have to be bribed for this to take place.

Will listen to evidence and see exhibits e.g. photos, CCTV, items involved in the crime. Can take notes but they will be destroyed (+ can only be used in courtroom and jury room) as process of jury deliberation = secret. 

When all evidence is presented and lawyers have finished their submissions, the judge sums up the case and explains the law. 

8 of 18

Role of the jury 2

Jury then retires to the jury room to consider the verdict.

They can have a copy of the indictment, any notes made and any exhibits allowed (diagrams, photos).

Not allowed access to mobile - ensures privacy.

Jury discussion is secret and no questions can be asked as to how verdict was reached. s8 of the Contempt of Court Act 1981 makes it a contempt of ourt to disclose anything that happens in the jury room - a criminal offence.

Jury can only reach a guilty verdict if prosecution have proved guilt 'beyond all reasonable doubt'. Any doubt = acquit.

9 of 18

Jury - Advantages

Public participation - reflects democratic society + citizens can play vital role in the justice system. Lord Denning - "giving ordinary folk their finest lesson in citizenship". Bar Council and Law Society - 85% trust jurys to make right decision +believed they improved quality of justice system

Decisions can be based on simple fairness rather than the law (Clive v Ponting, Bushell's). In R v Owen, man was acquitted after he shot a man in the back who had got out of prison after 18 months for running over his son (blind, never passed test, lorry was not roadworthy).

Make decisions on the fact and as there is 12 - makes it more fair - not just one person deciding D's fate. Nobody on jury is connected to the trial, are not "case hardened" - most will only sit once in their life. 

Decisions not having to be justified means controversial verdicts can be discussed with no fear of repercussions.

Reflect diverse nature of the public - better than Judges deciding as they come from a very narrow section of society.

10 of 18

Jury - Disadvantages

Not legally trained so may not fully understand cases and may make decisions on wrong principles - fraud/murder hinging on intention (complex area of law). Sir Frederick Lawton - "jurors level of understanding of cases, and perhaps their level of intelligence, are not always up to the task they have to perform". Lord Denning - selection is too wide so selection should be done with interviews and references.

No reasons given for decision. Newcastle CC - juror discharged after asking for D's DOB so he could prepare astrological chart to decide case. R v Young - ouija board was sed to contact the dead "victim" who confirmed guilt - when reasoning was uncovered, it led to a retrial but D was still found guilty.

Cases can collapse through researching cases/using social media. Joanne Fraill contacted the D via Facebook causing a £6m drug case to collapse. Jailed for 8 months for contempt of court. Theodora Dallas researche the D on the internet and gave the info to fellow jurors - sentenced to 6 months. Lord Judge - "misuse of the internet by a juror is always a most serious irregularity and an effective custodial sentences is virtually inevitable".

11 of 18

Magistrates' - Qualification and Selection

21,000 lay magistrates trying over 2m cases a year (96% criminal cases).

Justices of the Peace Act 1997 - Magistrates appointed by LC on advice of Local Advisory Committee. 

Candidates formally apply. Must live/work in a reasonable distance of the court. 18 - 65 on appointment. Usually over 27 to have necessary life experience but 19 y/o has been appointed. 

1998 - procedure to appointing lay magistrates changed. Six key qualities brought in - good character, understanding and communication, social awareness, maturity and sound temperament, sound judgement, commitment and reliability.

Must be able to sit for half a day a week.

Local Advisory Committee arranges interviews after candidates have been shortlisted. 2 stages - 1st judges six key qualities, 2nd is sentencing/trial exercises to look at judgement.

Review decisions to ensure balanced bench then recommendations are submitted to LC who formally appoints Mags to "local justice area". Then sworn-in, usually retire at 70. Can be removed at any time if judged to have misbehaved/acted in a way inconsistent with the office.

12 of 18

Magistrates' - Qualification and Selection

21,000 lay magistrates trying over 2m cases a year (96% criminal cases).

Justices of the Peace Act 1997 - Magistrates appointed by LC on advice of Local Advisory Committee. 

Candidates formally apply. Must live/work in a reasonable distance of the court. 18 - 65 on appointment. Usually over 27 to have necessary life experience but 19 y/o has been appointed. 

1998 - procedure to appointing lay magistrates changed. Six key qualities brought in - good character, understanding and communication, social awareness, maturity and sound temperament, sound judgement, commitment and reliability.

Must be able to sit for half a day a week.

Local Advisory Committee arranges interviews after candidates have been shortlisted. 2 stages - 1st judges six key qualities, 2nd is sentencing/trial exercises to look at judgement.

Review decisions to ensure balanced bench then recommendations are submitted to LC who formally appoints Mags to "local justice area". Then sworn-in, usually retire at 70. Can be removed at any time if judged to have misbehaved/acted in a way inconsistent with the office.

13 of 18

Training

Organised by Judicial Studies Board.

Since 1998 training has intensified and experienced Mags are appointed as mentors who support training/development organised under the Magistrates National Training Initiative (MNTI2) programme.

Mags who sit in Youth Court/Family Court recieve additional training as do Mags who want to become the chairperson.

Training is carried out by legal advisors supported by psychiatrists, probation officers, lawyers and judges.

On appointment - intensive induction course to familiarise them with court proceedings and theory and practise of sentencing.

Assessed at end of first year and on regular basis to ensure competence,and identify training needs.

Second stage - over 2 years and consists of further instruction and prison visits.

14 of 18

Magistrates' Criminal Jurisdiction

Try and sentence all summary offences - least serious offence. Things like assault/battery. 

Sit on a bench on 3 - not legally qualified. Take advice from court clerk.  Clerk give advice on law and procedure - cannot determin guilt or sentence. 

Either way offence - starts in Magistrates' where there's a "plea before venue" hearing. D asked plea.

Guilty plea - dealt with in Mags unless believe sentencing powers are too limited - send to Crown.

Not guilty - "mode of trial" hearing where Mags wil decide if they believe they have sufficient power to deal with case. Defendant is asked if they want to stay in Mags or have trial by jury. In Mags selected, will be full trial with witnesses and mags advised by clerk. If case is proved, mags must sentence and give reasoning (sentence is limited to £5000/6 months).

Deal with preliminary issues - legal aid/bail. Legal aid - more likely if case is to go to Crown - more complexity, increase in sentencing powers. If bail is refused, mags must give reasons and D will be remanded in custody.

15 of 18

Magistrates' Criminal Jurisdiction 2

Indictable offences - mags deal with bail and legal aid.

All other parts of the trial - dealt with in Crown Court.

Other work - appearing in Youth Court (10-17) where they are specially trained. Issue arrest and search warrants. Appeals against conviction/sentence from Magistrates' to Crown - 2 mags will sit with circuit judge to hear appeal - will be different from those who made original decision.

16 of 18

Magistrates' - Advantages

From local area - understand local needs, have local knowledge. Better informed picture of local life than judge. Lord Chancellow in 1999 empasised magistrates local knowledge is valuable as they represent views of the community.

From a wide range of backgrounds, age, experience. 8.7% are from ethnic minorities (although drop for 14.1% in 2011), 52% are female (only 25% of judges), campaigns to promote % of ethnic minorities and younger people.

Cheaper as they are only paid expenses. In 2003/2004 it cost £15m for 30,000 magistrates (£500 each). Try vast majority of cases and it would cost judges at least £100m in salaries alone for judges.

IN 2003, only 11,858 appeals were made to Crown - 2,811 were successful. As most plead guilty, no surprise there are so few appeals. Jacqueline Martin - "magistrates do a remarkably good job."

Sit on a bench of 3 so more balanced as opposed to one judge.

Training means they are no longer amateurs.

17 of 18

Magistrates' - Disadvantages

Postcode justice - sentences for similar offences depend on where you live. Burglary of dwelling houses - 20% offenders sentenced to immediate custody in Teeside, 41% in Birmingham. Driving whilst disqualified - 21% sentenced to custody in S. Wales, 77% in Essex. In 2004, Sunderland discharged 36.4% of all defendants, Briminhsam 9.2%.

As from local area, may recognise repeat offenders and knowledge of certain areas may make it hard to remain objective.

May rely too heavily on legally qualified clerk even though they should not rely on them for decisions. R v Eccles Justice ex parte Farrelly where Magistrates decision could not be upheld as clerk spent 25 of 30 minutes ith magistrates when they had retired.

Rely on police evidence too readily. In R v Bingham JJ ex parte Jowitt the only evidence was the police officer and the D. The chair said where there is a direct conflict, the principle has always been to believe the police (conviction was quashed).

Acquittal rate is 25% in Magistrates' compared to 40% in Crown. Magistrates' often see same prosecutor - could affect judgement.

The Judiciary in the Magistartes' Court 2000 showed 40% were retired and overwhelmingly from a professional/managerial background. Not a cross-section of the community.

18 of 18

Comments

No comments have yet been made

Similar Law resources:

See all Law resources »See all The Criminal courts and lay people resources »