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Magistrates Court Representation

I HAVE BEEN CHARGED WITH A SUMMARY ONLY OFFENCE. WHAT HAPPENS NEXT?

If you are charged with a summary ony offence you can only be tried in the Magistrates Court.

I HAVE BEEN CHARGED WITH AN EITHER WAY OFFENCE WHAT HAPPPENS NEXT?

If you are charged with an Either Way Offence this means that your case can be tried in the Magistrates or Crown Court. The Court will initially go through a Proceedure called Plea Before Venue.

You will be asked if you intend to indicate a Guilty or Not Guilty Plea.

If you indicate a Not Guilty Plea the Magistrates will hear the facts of the case and decide if their powers of punishment are sufficient to deal with it. The maximum sentence the Magistrates Court can impose isn 6 months for one offence and a maximum of 12 months for 2 offences.

If the Court is of the opinion that their powers of punishment are insufficient they will decline juriusdiction and direct that your case should be tried in the Crown Court. If the Court considers that their powers are sufficient they will say so - this is called accepting jurisdiction. You will then be given the option on whether you wish to be tried in the Magistrates Court or before a Judge and Jury at the Crown Court.

 

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 Crown Court to be dealt with. If you are charged with an Either Way offence you can still be tried in the Crown Court  because the Magistrates have decided their powers are insufficient or you elect Crown Court Trial ( See Magistrates Court Representation - Either way offences). For further information about Crown Court see our Crown Court Representation page.

 

Attending at Court

Once you have been bailed or summonsed to attend court you must do so.

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 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 . Discount 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.

If you plead Not Guilty

If you plead Not Guilty the court will fix a date for your trial and may issue some directions regarding the further progress of the case.

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.

 

The Trial

The trial will take place before either a District Judge sitting alone or 3 lay magistrates sitting as a bench. The case will begin with the prosecution presenting their case. They will start with an opening speech 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 advocate. If a witness gives evidence which is not disputed it is likley their statement will be read . Once the prosecution has called all their evidence , if we feel that the Prosecution has not proved its case we can make a submission that there is no case to answer and the case should not proceed . If the Court agrees the case will be dismissed. If the Court disagrees with submissions 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 Prosecution Advocate and your Defence Advoocate will make closing speeches to the Court who will then retire to consider if the case has been proved or not.

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 it progresses.

If you plead Guilty

If you plead guilty the 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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