Theme C- Criminal Courts and Civil Courts



Magistrates Court = Less serious types of cases known as Summary Offences e.g. minor motoring offences, criminal damage and minor assaults.

  • 3 Magistrates hear each case, usually volunteers from different experiences. District judge may hear more complex summary trials.
  • Legal adviser is on hand to provide guidance on law
  • Magistrates pass sentences of up to 6 months in prison and can set unlimited fines
  • Appeals from Magistrates Court are heard in Crown Court.

Crown Court = More serious types of cases known as indictable offences e.g. murder, ****, robbery. High Court judges try very serious cases like murder and ****. Circuit judges and Recorders try less serious cases such as theft, referred from Magistrates.

  • A judge presides over cases ensuring they are fair, does not decide guilt.
  • Jury independant of police and courts to ensure fairness, hear evidence and decide guilt.
  • Judge advises jury on law and sets sentence
  • Appeals from Crown Court may be heard in High Court and may go on to higher courts.

'Either way' offences can be heard in Magistrates Courts or Crown Court and defendants have a right to ask for trial by jury e.g. burglary, theft, drug offences etc.


County Courts = disputes about property, breaches of contract bw companies and individuals. Cases seeking payment of debts, compensation and personal injury. Small claims of up to £10,000. Process:

  • Cases can


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