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Crown Court

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THE CROWN COURT

The Crown Court has primarily four functions and they are as follows:-

  • To decide issues of bail either in cases before the Crown Court or cases which are before the Magistrates Court.
  • Committals for sentence where the Magistrates have determined their sentencing powers are inadequate.
  • Appeals against conviction and/or sentence from the Magistrates Court.
  • Conduct trials of cases before the Court

BURDEN AND STANDARD OF PROOF

In most criminal trials the burden of proof and the Defendant’s guilt is upon the Prosecution. In other words the Prosecution has to prove that the Defendant is guilty and he does not have to prove his innocence.

The Prosecution can only succeed in proving a Defendant’s guilt by making the Jurors sure of it. Nothing less than that will do and if the Jury/Magistrates are not sure that a Defendant is guilty then they must return a verdict of not guilty.

BASIC PROCEDURE – CROWN COURT TRIAL

  • The Prosecutor will address the Jury
  • The Prosecution will call their witnesses who will be asked questions, cross examined and re-examined
  • All evidence to be agreed will be read
  • If relevant the Defence Advocate will make a submission of no case to answer to the Judge in the absence of a Jury. The Crown will be given an opportunity to respond.
  • The Defence will call evidence if they deem it appropriate and their witnesses will be examined, cross examined and re-examined
  • The Prosecution and Defence will then make their closing speeches
  • The Judge will sum up to the Jury
  • The Jury will deliver their verdict
  • If the verdict is not guilty the Defendant will be discharged. If he is found guilty then the Judge will sentence the Defendant

SENTENCING

If a Defendant pleads guilty or is found guilty then it falls upon the Magistrates or a Judge to sentence him/her. The type of sentence the accused receives will depend on whether they are a youth or an adult and furthermore will depend on various factors such as their previous convictions and the nature and seriousness of the offence.

Sentences can vary from discharges, fines, community orders, suspended sentencing and imprisonment.