Classification of Offences
Criminal offences are divided into 3 categories.
- Summary offences.
- Triable either way offences.
- Indictable offences.
Least serious offences. Always tried in the magistrates court. They include nearly all driving offences. Common assault, is a summary offence.
Triable either way offences
They are middle range. They can be tried either in magistrates of crown court. They include a wide range of offences, such as theft and assault. The pre-trial for Triable either way offences, is more complex. It has to be decided where the case will be dealt with.
They are most!! serious crimes. Section 18 offence against a person act 1861, is an indictable offence. First preliminary hearing= in magistrates. Then case will be transferred to crown court. All indictable offences must be tried in the crown court, in front of a judge and jury.
An important pre-trail matter, to be decided is whether the defendant should stay in custody while awaiting trial or whether bail should be granted. A person can be released on bail at any stage after being arrested.
Condition bail= police have powers, to grant bail with conditions. For example asking a suspect to surrender passport. Report to police station at intervals. Get another to stand surety for him. £.
Where police are not prepared to grant bail, they must bring defendant to magistrates court. Who will decide whether they should be granted bail, or not.
Bail act 1976
Assumes accused person should be granted bail, though the right is limited for certain cases. Section 4, of act, gives general right to bail. They can refuse bail if they believe for some reason:
- fail to surrender to custody.
- commit an offence while on bail.
- interfere with witnesses.
When deciding to grant bail. court will consider:
- nature of offence.
- associations and community ties of defendant.
- Defendants record.
- Strength of evidence against him
- if defendant has previously failed to surrender to bail.
Restrictions on bail
- defendant has been charged with murder, attempted murder, manslaughter, ****, and have already served custodial sentence for a similar offence. Can only be granted bail in exceptional cases.
- defendant was already on bail, when committed the new offence.
defendant tested positive for certain class A drugs, and is charged on a drugs related offence and refuses to take part in an assessment of his drug dependency.
Burden and standard of proof
An accused person is presumed innocent until proven guilty. This means the burden of proof is on the prosecution. The standard of proof necessary in order for the defendant to be found guilty is beyond reasonable doubt.