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The Criminal Process

ADVESERIAL - Having an advocate for the defence and the prosecution (lawyers)

INSTITUTIONAL - No arguments, Judge decided what he thinks from the balanced viewpoints - given to the Atorney General.

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Magistrates court.

Composition

  • Approx 500 Magistrates courts, found in most towns
  • Cases heard by a bench of 3 magistrates but a District Judge hears more complex cases. They can give a maximum £5,000 fine and 12 months imprisonment.
  • Legal Advisor/Clerk administers and advises the magistrate on the court procedure.

CRIMINAL JURISDICTION

  • Preliminary hearing - early administrative hearing for all offences (plea and name), triable either way offences (plea and mode of trial)
  • They can hear/sentence SUMMARY OFFENCES, TRIABLE EITHER WAY OFFENCES AND YOUTH CASES.
  • Magistrates who sit in the youth court must be specially qualified. 

CIVIL JURISDICTION - issue licenses, civil debts and family matters.

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CROWN COURT

COMPOSITION

  • Over 90 Courts. 
  • Cases are heard by a jury and a judge and a circuit administrator who works closely with the judge, checking details and drawing up court lists.
  • 1ST TIER - all three judges sit here and hear all class (1,2,3,4) of serious offences - 'combined court'
  • 2ND TIER - all three types of judges sit here and hear cases up to 2+3 (****, manslaughter and robbery) in cities.
  • 3RD TIER - staffed by the Circuit Judges and Recorders, and hear class 4 (theft) serious offences in cities. 

JURISDICTION

  • They can hear: triable either way offences, indictable offences, sentencing for magistrates and appeals from magistrates.
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Triable Either Way Offences

Plea before venue  The defendant is whether he pleads guitly or not guilty. Guilty = Magistrates Court (however they can send the defendant to the Crown Court for sentencing if necessary)

Mode of trial This takes place if the defendant had pleaded NOT GUILTY to a new offence and determines whether the magistrate can hear the case. The magistrate must consider whether their powers are sufficient, the nature and seriousness of the offence, whether the defendant is legally represented etc. They should decline the case if complex facts or law is involved, if it involves the breach of trust, if the crime was committed by and organised gang, if the amount involved is greater than the magistrates' power to fine. If they DECLINE, then they will transfer the case to the Crown Court. If they accept, the defendant is given the option of which court they are tried in.

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