OCR AS Law - Criminal Courts

Revision cards on Criminal courts. Exam board OCR.

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Magistrates Court

430 Courts in England and Wales. Courts are local so there will possibly be one in every major town.

Have jurisdiction over variety of cases; cicil and criminal.

Cases heard by magistrates (District judge or lay justices)

Legally qualified clerk attached to each court assist and act as legal adviser.

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"legal right to hear cases"

Magistrates court -

- Deal with all summary cases

- Try triable either way cases that have been decided to try in M.C

- Deal with first hearing of indictable cases.

- Side matters such as warrants, bail appeals.

- Try cases in the youth court where defendants = 10-17 years old.

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Summary Trials

Least serious cases.

subdivided into 5 levels (1,2,3,4,5). 1 being lowest 5 being the highest. Used for fines.

level 1 = £200, level 5 = £5000 (businesses and environmental cases = £20,000).

fines in accordance to criminal justice Act 1991.

Max prison sentence for summary trial from M.C is 6 months.

Defendant asked if plea guilty or not guilty. 90% plea guilty.

*M.C = Magistrates Court

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Guilty Plea

- CPS (crown prosecution service) give court resume' of facts for case.

- Defendant asked if agrees with the facts. If not then a NEWTON hearing is held where the court question defendant and gain all the correct facts.

- Past records given to the court as well as other background material.

- Defendant and/or lawyer explain the matters in hope of receiving more lenient sentence.

- M.C decide on sentence.

*M.C = Magistrates Court

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Not Guilty Plea

- The trial consists of evidence from prosecution and from defendant.

- After they have been heard, defendant can submit 'no case to answer', this where the prosecutors have not been able to prove so the defendant has nothing to defend. If this is agreed by the judge then the defendant is released.

- M.C make their decision.

Guilty - Past record --> Extra info. given to M.C --> Sentence received.

Not Guilty - Defendant free to go.

*M.C = Magistrates Court

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Triable Either Way Cases

Plea Guilty -

- M.C look at past records and reports.

- If the M.C, after looking at them decide they can't give a greater enough sentence - because it is out of their jurisdiction. Sent to the C.C.

- Sentence then received from the C.C.

Plea Not Guilty -

- M.C decide what court to try in. M.C or C.C

- Defendant can elect to be tried in M.C

- If tried in M.C same procedure as summary trial.

*M.C = Magistrates court *C.C = Crown Court

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The Role Of The Clerk

Every bench of M.C sits a Clerk.

Acts as legal adviser.

Must have been a barrister or solicitor for 5 years.

"To guide M.C on questions of law, practice and procedure"

Clerk DOESNT take part in the decision making.;

Extended powers- Issue warrants of arrest, can extend police bail.

*M.C = Magistrates Court

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Youth Courts

Branch of the M.C.

10-17 year olds. Under the age of 10 cannot be charged for criminal offences.

Exceptional cases, can be tried in C.C i.e ****, Manslaughter, Murder. (14 years+)

Youth Courts are held privately. Media can be present but cannot publish names or personal information about the defendant or prosecutors.

Magistrates who sit on the bench must be under the age of 65 and must have had special training to deal with youths.

There must be at least 1 female and 1 male on the bench.

Parents or guardian must be present if under 16. 16-17 parent guardians can be requested.

*M.C = Magistrates court *C.C= Crown court

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Crown Court (C.C)

90 centres in England and Wales.

3 kinds of centres -

1. First Tier - H.C and C.C with seperate judges for civil and criminal cases.

- C.C permanently staffed by the H.C judges, Circuit Judges and recorders.

- All Categories of crime.

2. Second Tier - C.C only but H.C judges can sit to hear criminal cases.

- Circuit judges and recorders.

- All categories.

3. Third Tier - Only circuit and recorders.

- Less serious cases heard here due to no H.C judge to deal with them.

*M.C = Magistrates court *C.C = Crown court *H.C = High court

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Preliminary Matters

The indictment -

Formal document that sets out the charges against the defendant.

Criminal Procedure Rules -

Criminal cases must be dealt with justly.

Disclosure By Prosecution And Defence -

Criminal procedure and Investigations ACT 1996. Places duty on both sides to make certain points known to each other.

Guilty and Not Guilty plea.

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The Trial

The Trial -

1. jury sworn in to try case.

2. Prosecution makes opening statement

3. Prosecution witnesses give evidence under oath along with other evidence

4. Can submit 'no case to answer/defend' if agreed defendant free.

5. Defence make opening speech.

6. Defence give evidence, witnesses, formal etc.

7. Prosecutor and Defendant make closing speech.

8. Judge sums up case

9. Jury consider verdict in private and come to a decision.

10. guilty = sentence received. Not guilty = Free to go.

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