Pre Trial Hearings

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  • Created by: Amy
  • Created on: 11-02-14 14:40

Introduction

All criminal cases go first to magistrates. It is unusuall for a case to be completed here, but is possible for minor offences to be dealt with at this point. Most driving offences special procedure allowing the defendant to plead guilty by post and no attendance is necessary.

Summary - least serious crimes

Triable either way - middle range crimes

Indictable - most serious crimes

Summons - document sent by post to defendant. setting the date they must attend a magistrates court. 

Charge - if the defendant has been arrested and is in custody of the police. The police investigate and interview the defendant and send the evidence they find to the CPS. They decide if there is enough evidence for the defendant to be charged - verbally by the police, the defendant is also given a written document record. This is used for seriouse crimes

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Pre Trial Procedure for a Summary Offence

  • case is first heard at magistrates court 
  • D is summond for offence OR
  • D is arrested and charged with offence
  • Police can give bail or D is taken immediatly to a magistrates court for bail to be considerd 
  • In a first hearing an adjournment is often giving for many reasons such as:
    • CPS need more information
    • D wants legal advice
    • Magistrates want a pre sentence report 
    • D pleads not guilty so witnesses need to be arranged
  • Main point to be decided on adjournment is whether bail is being given of D has to go to custody
  • Early administrative hearings are aimed at discovering if D wants/needs legal aid, to request a pre sentence medical report and to decide custody or bail?
  • D is then tried at the magistrates court - has no right to trial by jury (crown)
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Pre Trial Procedure for a Triable Either Way Offen

  • D is arrested and charged with the offence and police can give bail or D taken to magistrates for bail to be considered
  • Plea Before Venue - D asked what he pleads (guilty or not guilty). If he pleads guilty he has no right to go to crown however magistrates may sent him to crown if they feel their sentencing powers are inadequet
  • Mode Of Trial - If D pleads not guilty the magistrates decide if they are prepared to try the case (called a mode of trial) they consider the nature and seriousness of the crime and the limits to there sentencing power. Cases involving complet questions of facts of law - sent to crown
  • Relevant factors which may make a case more suitable for trial in crown:
    • Brech of trust by defendant
    • crime was committed by an organised gang
    • the money involved is more than double what the magistrates can fine (£5000)
  • Defendants Election - Magistrates are prepared to hear the case, defendant have the right to choose tril by jury or not. They are warned if the case is tried by magistrates and found guilty - the magistrates can send them to crown for sentencing for a higher punishment than that have the power to give
  • The right to Trial by Jury - Only triable either way cases have the right to a choice
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Advantages and Disadvantages to Trial by Jury

Reasons for choosing trial by jury

  • More likely to be acquitted
  • More acquittals are as a result of the judge discharging the case or directing that D be found guilty
  • Most defendants choose trial in crown on advice from their lawyer
  • More likely to get legal aid
  • Legal representative of a barrister, at crown court legal representation must have a certificate or advocacy giving them the right to do cases in crown

Disadvantages of Trial by Jury

  • Longer wait for cases to be dealt with
  • Cost more 
  • If found guilty judges sentencing powers are higher than that of magistrates
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Plea and Case Management Hearing

  • case sent to crown court, the first hearing is a 'plea and case management hearing'
  • In front of a judge in crown court
  • To make sure all necessary preparation is taken - case ready for trial
  • Defendant is asked their plea
  • If the plea is guilty the judge can sentence him immediately
  • Pleads not guilty, the prosecution and defence must provide judge with information about:
    • Witnesses needed to attend the trial
    • Documents and exhibistis that will be produced at trial
    • Points of law that will be raised at the trial
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Pre Trial Procedure for an Indictable Offences

  • First hearing in the magistrates' court
  • Deals with whether D wants to apply for legal aid and issue of bail
  • All sent to crown immediately after the early administrative hearing in magistrates court
  • All other pre trial matters are dealt with by a judge at crown court
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Burden and Standard of Proof

  • The accused is presumed innocent until proven guilty
  • Burden of proof on the prosecution 
  • Must prove the case by proving both the required actus reus and mens rea of the offence charged 
  • standard of proof nesessary in order for D to be found Guilty is beyond all reasonable doubt
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