- All criminal cases start in the Magistrates' Court
Categories of offences:
- Least serious
- Always tried in the Magistrates' Court
- E.g. Driving without insurance
Triable either way offences
- Middle range of crimes
- Can be tried in either Magistrates/Crown
- E.g. Theft, assault causing ABH
- Most serious
- Always tried in the Crown Court (But start in Magistrates Court)
- E.g. murder
Pre Trial Procedure (PTP) for summary cases:
- Case can be dealt with at first hearing.
- Often the case is adjourned: perhaps the Magistrates want a pre sentence report or defendant wants legal advice.
- Early Administrative Hearing: One lay magistrate/ court clerk. Decide on legal aid, pre-sentence/medical report and bail/ remand in custody.
PTP for triable either way offences:
- The plea before venue procedure is used
- Defendant is asked whether he pleads guilty or not guilty
- If the plea is guilty then he cannot ask for the case to be heard at the crown court, but the Magistrates can send him to the Crown Court for sentencing, if they feel that their powers are insufficient.
Mode of Trial:
- Only if the defendant pleads not guilty, will the Magistrates undertake Mode of Trial
- Mags decide if the case is suitable for the magistrates' court
- Accept or refuse jurisdiction to hear the case?
s19 Magistrates Court Act 1980 states that the Magistrates must consider:
- The nature of the crime
- their own sentencing powers
- does it involve a point of law
- where the attorney/solicitor general or DPP is the prosecutor, it must be sent to the Crown Court
- if the Magistrates accept jurisdiction, then the defendant has the right to trial by jury, but may also be tried by the Magistrates if he agrees (Normally they do)
Reasons for choosing trial by jury:
- More likely to be…