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The criminal courts; procedure and sentencing

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1 The criminal courts; procedure and sentencing
Outline of criminal courts and appeal system

2 Lesson objectives I will be able to draw a diagram of the criminal court structure showing appeal routes I will be able to state the jurisdiction of each court I will be able to distinguish between different classifications of offence I will be able to describe the burden of proof in a criminal case I will be able to apply the above to a given situation

3 The criminal courts Criminal offences are summary, indictable or either-way offences. Summary offences are relatively minor offences triable only in the Magistrates’ Court. Most offences are summary and include common assault, threatening behaviour and nearly all motoring offences. The maximum sentence is less than 6 months.

4 Either-way offences can, as the name suggests, be tried in either the Magistrates’ Court or the Crown Court. The Crown Court tries the more serious offences although most pre-trial matters are dealt with in the Magistrates’ Court. Indictable offences are the most serious offences, such as murder, rape or robbery and are tried on indictment only. That means they must be tried in the Crown Court before a judge, who rules on the law and passes sentence, and a jury of twelve members of the public, chosen at random, who decide on the facts if the defendant is guilty or not guilty. There are different possible appeals from decisions in either the Magistrates’ Court or the Crown Court.

5 Magistrates’ Court: Jurisdiction in criminal matters
Issuing arrest and search warrants; these will be applied for by the police. These are quite rare, as the police have such wide powers Deciding on bail applications; when the defendant appears at court, it is the court’s obligation to decide bail and not the police

6 Conducting sending-for-trial hearings: indictable only offences such as murder are sent directly to the Crown Court for trial without the Magistrates’ Court taking any action, apart from the decision on bail, public funding of the defendant, and the use of statements and exhibits Where the case involves an either-way offence, the more usual form of committal for trial is committal without consideration of the evidence, known as a short committal. This means the defendant’s case will be sent to the Crown Court for trial without the magistrates making a detailed review of the evidence Trying summary offences such as assault Trying either-way offences that are to be tried summarily such as theft

7 The jurisdiction of the Crown Court
Trying indictable offences such as murder Trying either-way offences that are to be tried on indictment, such as theft Sentencing, where the case has been sent by the Magistrates’ Court to the Crown Court for sentence Hearing appeals from the Magistrates’ Court against conviction or sentence

8 Classification of offences
Criminal offences are of 3 types: summary, either-way and indictable Summary offences are the most minor – tried in Magistrates’ Court The word ‘summary’ refers to the way in which the defendant is ordered to attend court, which is by written order usually delivered by post

9 Either-way offences, such as an offence under s47 of OAPA 1861, can be tried in either the Magistrates’ Court of the Crown Court This is usually at the defendant's option but can be ordered by the magistrates Indictable offences, such as s18 of OAPA, are the most serious offences and can only be tried in the Crown Court

10 Burden of proof in criminal offences
The general basis for imposing liability in criminal law is that the defendant must be proved by the prosecution to have committed the guilty act whilst having had the guilty state of mind for the crime with which the defendant is charged It is the responsibility of the prosecution to prove both of these elements of the offence to the satisfaction of the magistrates or jury – this is known as the burden of proof

11 The standard of proof is beyond reasonable doubt (standard of proof means the level to which the evidence must be proved to gain a conviction) If this cannot be proved the defendant will be acquitted Active case management of criminal cases is designed to make cases proceed more quickly and lead to fewer cases collapsing. This means the criminal justice system should become more cost effective

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