2 Classifications of crime Topic 7The courts system: criminal courtsClassifications of crimeThere are three types of criminal offence:summary offencestriable-either-way offencesindictable offences
3 Summary offences Topic 7 The courts system: criminal courts Summary offences are the least serious, ‘petty’ crimes, e.g. assault. They are triable summarily at the Magistrates’ Court.
4 Triable-either-way offences Topic 7The courts system: criminal courtsTriable-either-way offencesTriable-either-way offences, such as theft, may be tried at the Magistrates’ Court or at the Crown Court, depending on the circumstances of the case.
5 Indictable offences Topic 7 The courts system: criminal courts Indictable offences, e.g. murder, must be tried at the Crown Court. They are the most serious offences.
6 Pre-trial procedure Topic 7 The courts system: criminal courts bail mode of trialcommittal
7 Bail Topic 7 The courts system: criminal courts When a person charged with a criminal offence attends the Magistrates’ Court for the first time, the issue of bail is considered.If the magistrates allow the defendant out on bail, it means that the person can go home until the date of his or her next hearing.If the magistrates think it would be better to keep the defendant in prison until his or her next hearing, they will remand the defendant in custody.
8 Bail (2) Topic 7 The courts system: criminal courts Every defendant has the right to bail, with the exception of someone who commits an either-way or indictable offence while on bail.This rule is governed by s.4 of the Bail Act 1976.
9 Bail (3) Topic 7 The courts system: criminal courts A defendant will not be granted bail if the court has substantial grounds to believe one or more of the following:The defendant will fail to surrender to bail.The defendant is already on bail for another indictableoffence.The defendant will interfere with witnesses.Bail can be conditional or unconditional. The conditions are contained in s. 3 of the Bail Act 1976.
10 Mode of trial Topic 7 The courts system: criminal courts A mode of trial hearing decides whether an either-way offence should be tried at the Magistrates’ Court or committed to the Crown Court.
11 Committal Topic 7 The courts system: criminal courts If the defendant is to have his or her case heard at the Crown Court, the magistrates must first commit the case.
12 Criminal courts Topic 7 The courts system: criminal courts Magistrates’ CourtCrown CourtCourt of AppealHouse of Lords
13 Magistrates’ Court Topic 7 The courts system: criminal courts All criminal cases start in the Magistrates’ Court.These courts deal with preliminary matters such as bail applications and legal aid. They have the power to try all summary offences and may try either-way offences if the defendant chooses to have the case heard in the Magistrates’ Court.The magistrates have the power to sentence a defendant up to 12 months in prison.
14 Crown Court Topic 7 The courts system: criminal courts The Crown Court tries indictable offences and either-way offences if the defendant has requested that his or her trial be held at the Crown Court.If the defendant pleads guilty, the judge alone will pass sentence.If the defendant pleads not guilty, a jury will try the case, and if found guilty, a judge will impose a sentence.
15 Court of Appeal Topic 7 The courts system: criminal courts The prosecution may appeal to the Criminal Division of the Court of Appeal if it believes that a defendant has received a lenient sentence, or that he or she was wrongly acquitted, so that the law is changed for the future.The defence may appeal if it believes the sentence was too harsh (without permission), or against conviction either on a point of law or fact (with permission).
16 House of Lords Topic 7 The courts system: criminal courts The House of Lords is the highest appeal court in England and Wales. It only hears appeals with leave (permission granted by the Court of Appeal or the House of Lords) on a point of law of general public importance.