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Crown Crown Court Representation

I have been charged with an Indictable only offence and am to be tried in the Crown Court. What happens next?

Your case will begin at the Magistrates Court. If your charged with an indictable only offence the Magistrates have no power other than to send your case staright to the Crowbn Court to be dealt with. If you are charged with an Either Way offence you can still be tried in the Crown Court wither because the Magistraes have decided their powers are insufficient or you elect Crown Court Trial ( See Magistrates Court Representation - Either way offences)

 

ATTENDING COURT

Once your case has been listed at the Crown Court you must attend court as and when required.

If you are on bail and fail to attend without a reasonable excuse a warrant will be issued for your arrest and you could be charged with an offence of Failing to Surrender to Bail , where you could be fined or imprisoned. Forgetting your bail date is not an reasonable excuse. If you cannot attend because you are unwell . a simple doctors note will often not suffice and a proper medical note will be required which states that you are Unfit to attend Court.

If you have been given bail conditions, you must abide by them as failure to do so will put you in breach of bail and the police can arrrest you. You will be put before the next available sitting of the Court so that a bail application can be made and you may be remanded in custody until your case is concluded.

If you fail to attend Court for your Trial the Court can proceed in your absence.

 

CREDIT FOR A GUILTY PLEA

You should only enter a Guilty Plea if you are guilty of the charge or charges that you face. We will provide you with advice on the evidence aginst you and the Strenghths and Weaknesses of the case. If you plead guilty at the first opportunity , you may be entitled to discount of up to 1/3 off your sentence . Doscount is avaialble for a guilty plea up until the date of trial however the later a guilty plea is entered the less of a discount you receive.

 

CROWN COURT PROCEDURE

The first hearing at the Crown Court is called a Plea and Trial Preparation Hearing ( PTPH). The purpose of the hearing is for ythe defendant to enter a formal plea to the charges he/she faces and for the court to set a timetable for the furure progress of the case.

Prior to that hearing the CPS will have served upon us initial disclosure which will enable us to identify the issues in the case and advise you on your plea.

NOT GUILTY PLEAS

If you plead Not Guilty the court will fix a timetable of directions to be complied with to ensure the smooth progress of the case. The earliest Trial date will also be identified.

The Prosecution will be given a date by which they have to serve their full file of evidence and unused material schedule. Normally we are given 28 days after service to file a defence statement. A defence statement is a document which is prepared on your instructions nad served on the Prosecution and the Court. It identifies the nature of the defence case and what parts of the evidedence are challenged and why. Failure to serve a Defence Statement can result in the Jury at your trial being told they can draw an adverse inference against you as a result of the failure to serve a Defence Statement.

If you require witnesses in support of your case then they generally must be prepared to attend court as it is very rare for the CPS to agree written statements. We will endevour to give your witnesses as much notice as possible for attending court but they must be flexible as once the Trial has started it will not be possible to identify exactly when they will be required to give evidence as it will depend on how the case progresses.

 

THE TRIAL

Crown Court Trials often begin with the jury being sworn. 12 People from a panel will be selected at Random to form the jury that will hear the case. The Jury decide the facts of the case and the Judge directs them on the law. Once the jury is sworn , the prosecution will present their case. They will start with an opening speech to the jury outlining what the case is about and what evidebce they intend to call to prove their case. They will then call each of their witnesses. If there is a witness whose evidence is in dispute , then they will be called to give live evidence and they will be cross examined by your barrister. If a witness gives evidebnce which is not disputed it is likley their statement will be read to the jury. Once the prosecution has called all their evidence , if we feel that the Prosecution has not proved its case we can make a submission to the Judge that there is no case to answer and the case should not proceed . If the Judge agrees the case will stop and the jury will be directed to return Not Guilty Verdicts in the cased. If the Judge disagrees the defence case will start. This is where you have the opportunity to give evidence and call any witnesses in support of the defence case. Once all evidence has been called the Prosecition Barrister and your Defence Barrister will make closing speeches to the Jury. The Judge will then direct the jury on the law and provide a summing up of the evidenbce that has been heard. The Jury will then retire to consider their verdicts.

If after deliberating for some time, the jury cannot agree a unaninmous verdict. the Judge will direct a jury that the Court can accept a Majority Verdict. This is a verdict where at least 10 of the jury agree. If they cannot reach a Majoruity Verdict the jury will be discharged and the CPS will make a decision on whether to have a Retrial

If you are found Not Guilty the case will conclude at that point and you will be released .

If you are found guilty the court will either sentence you immediately or adjourn your case for sentence to take place at a later date.

We will however provide you with advice tailored to your specific case as the case progresses.

GUILTY PLEAS

If you plead guilty tje Prosecution will read out the facts of the case and your Barrister will have an opportunity to respond and put forward ant mitigation you may have. Once this is done the Judge will look to sentence you. You may or may not be sentebced on that day, If the Court decide to adjourn your senbtence they may request that the Probation Service arrange to interview you so they can prepare a Pre Sentebce Report . The Pre Sentence Report provides the Judge with independent information about your personal circumstances , your risk of further offending and a range of possible sentencing options avaialble. Please note there are a large number of offences dealt with in the Crown Court where a sentence of imprisoment is inevitable and a request for a PSR by a Judge is no indication that a Non Custodial Sentence will be imposed.

When you are facing sentence there are a number of things that can help you.

1. You can obtian character referebces from significant members in your community in support of your general character.

2. You can try to take action to redress your criminal behavior , for example seek treatment for drug addiction, return stolen property etc.

3. Fully cooperate with Probation in the Preparation of any Pre Sentence Report.

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