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Refresher on structures and processes of the Scottish Courts.

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Presentation on theme: "Refresher on structures and processes of the Scottish Courts."— Presentation transcript:

1 Refresher on structures and processes of the Scottish Courts

2 The Four Levels of Courts in Scotland High Court of the Justiciary Sheriff Court Solemn Sheriff Court Justice of the Peace Court (which replaces the District Court).

3 The High Court of the Justiciary A LORD/JUDGE will preside over proceedings The High Court of Justiciary is Scotland's supreme criminal court.High Court of Justiciary As such, it hears cases only on SOLEMN Procedure – i.e. the most serious cases. The High Court is both a court of first instance and also a court of appeal. As a court of first instance, the High Court sits mainly in Parliament House in Edinburgh, but also sits from time to time in various other places in Scotland. As a court of appeal, it sits only in Edinburgh.

4 Appeals made to the High Court sitting as the Court of Criminal Appeal Appeals can be made from the lower courts in criminal cases. An appeal may also be made to the High Court if the High Court itself heard the case at first instance. Two judges sit to hear an appeal against sentence, and three judges sit to hear an appeal against conviction. There is no further appeal from the High Court's decision on appeal, in contrast to the Court of Session (Civil cases), from which it is possible to appeal to the House of Lords, the UK's highest court.

5 Solemn Procedure Those charged ‘on petition’ first appear in a closed Sheriff Court even if it is known that eventually the actual trial will be before the High Court. Closed Court is where no public/Social Workers are present. At this point the accused can be ‘committed’ for further examination or ‘fully committed’ for trial. The accused will be remanded in custody or remanded in hospital or granted bail at this time. The trial can be heard in Sheriff or High Court and will be heard in an open Court.

6 Sheriff Court Solemn Procedure During the process of judicial examination the Crown Office will decide which Court the case will be heard and an indictment will be served on the offender. Sheriff Solemn can sentence up to 5yrs custodial or unlimited fine. If the Sheriff feels that the sentence options are not high enough he/she can remit back to the High Court for sentencing. Whether High Court or Sheriff Solemn, the case will be heard by Judge/Sheriff and Jury when a plea of not guilty is heard.

7 Sheriff Summary Court Hears cases on summary procedure. A Sheriff will preside over proceedings. A trial will be heard by the Sheriff who determines the verdict of Guilty/Not Guilty/Not Proven. No jury is involved.

8 Summary procedure Less serious charges Procurator Fiscal arranges for a complaint setting out the relevant charges. Called in open Court. If plea of Not Guilty is tendered then a Trail date is set. If plea of Guilt is tendered the case can be disposed of that day. (Unless Reports are called for) Sentence up to 12 months custodial (for each offence) or £10,000 fine.

9 Justice of the Peace Courts A Justice of the Peace Court is a lay court where a Justice of the Peace who is not legally qualified sits with a legally qualified Clerk. The Clerk provides advice to the Justices on matters of law and procedure. The maximum sentence that a JP may impose is: 60 days imprisonment or a fine not exceeding £2,500 In Glasgow only, some courts are presided over by a legally qualified Stipendiary Magistrate. The maximum sentence that a Stipendiary Magistrate may impose is: 12 months imprisonment or a fine not exceeding £10,000 Justice of the Peace Courts were created by the Criminal Proceedings etc (Reform) (Scotland) Act 2007 and they replaced former District Courts which were operated by local authorities. This change resulted from Summary Justice Reform proposals in 2005 which sought to unify the administration of Sheriff and District Courts. The changes were introduced on a Sheriffdom by Sheriffdom basis from

10 Limitations on the Justice of the Peace Court Limited sentencing Limited financial penalty

11 Justice of the Peace Court remits to Sheriff Court Section 52A of the Mental Health (Care and Treatment) (Scotland) Act 2003 allows for the Justice of the Peace Court to remit certain cases to a Sheriff Court, where a person has been charged in a Justice of the Peace Court with an offence punishable by imprisonment and/or it appears to the Court that the person has a mental disorder.

12 Justice of the Peace Court Disposals (Other than Mental Health/ AWI Legislation) Custody – length depending on type of Court Custody with extended sentence – Indictment cases Custody with Supervised Release Order – indictment cases Drug Treatment & Testing Orders - not Justice of the Peace Court (JP) Restriction of Liberty Orders – not JP court Community Service – not JP Court Community Pay-back Order – may contain MH treatment requirement Deferred Sentence – for any reason usually between 6 and 12 months Fine / Compensation / Supervised Attendance Orders Admonished


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