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Innocent Until Proven Guilty.

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Disclaimer.

Our website contains information based on English and Welsh law. Although ‘The Defendant’ endeavours to ensure that the content is accurate and up to date, users should seek appropriate legal advice before taking or refraining from taking any action based on the content of this website or otherwise.

The contents of this website do not constitute legal advice and are provided for general information purposes only. If you require specific legal advice you should contact a specialist lawyer.

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Investigation

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Voluntary Interview

II

Arrest

III

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IV

Police Investigation

VI

Support

VII

Decision

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II

Bail/Remand

III

Support

IV

Gathering of Evidence

V

Disclosure

VI

Plea Trial

VII

Work/Education Impact

Trial

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Roles in a Courtroom

II

Standard Process

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Rights

IV

Presentation of Evidence

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Cross-examination

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Mental Impairment

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Voluntary Interview – What are voluntary interviews?

A voluntary interview is an interview requested by the police in order to assist them with an investigation, and importantly your attendance is not mandatory and requires your consent.

But the seriousness of the interview should not be overlooked simply due to its voluntary nature. During the interview you are under caution, and the interview itself is recorded and can be used as evidence in any criminal proceedings, in the situation where a decision is made to arrest you.

Voluntary Interview – What are the differences from arrest?

It is important to establish that a voluntary interview is not an arrest. They are more informal compared to the standard interviews in arrests. The police turn in favour of a voluntary interview with you if, they either do not think it is necessary to arrest you at the time, or they do not have sufficient evidence to do so.

Voluntary Interview – Why should you attend a voluntary interview?

A benefit of attending a voluntary interview is the ability to gain control over the situation. As with an interview after arrest, you would be able to consult with your solicitor, prior to the interview. And since the interview would be by appointment at a time convenient to you this would allow you more time to organise your answers, as opposed to being arrested suddenly and being underprepared for any questions asked.

Voluntary Interview – What happens if you do not attend?

If you choose not to attend your voluntary interview, you become at risk of being arrested if the police have enough evidence to do so. Therefore, it is in your best interest to attend the voluntary interview.

Voluntary Interview – What are your rights?

Prior and during your voluntary interview, you are entitled to a free solicitor to receive advice from and to be present at the interview. If you opt for a solicitor, you must communicate this to the police interviewer, who must allow you the opportunity to speak to your solicitor before interviewing you. Though a solicitor is optional, it is highly recommended as any information disclosed during the interview can be used in court against you. If you seek a solicitor, your appropriate adult can ask for one on your behalf.

Vulnerable people have the right to be assisted by an adult. This person is called your ”appropriate adult.” Your appropriate adult must be with you during the stages when the police officer informs you of your rights, as well as when the police caution is read and the officer asks you if you consent to be interviewed. You have the right to speak to your solicitor without the presence of your appropriate adult.

Your appropriate adult must also be present, if available, during the final stages of the police charging or reporting you for an offence.

You are also entitled to a right of silence, which will be communicated to you at the beginning of the interview by the police. Though, if you choose not to answer questions, it may harm your defence.

Additional rights include:

  • Right to leave during the voluntary interview at any time
  • Free right to an interpreter and to have documents translated
  • Free right to contact your embassy for advice if you are not a British National
  • Right to look at the Codes of Practice – which is a list of rules that the police will comply with during the interview
  • Right to know which offence you are thought to have committed and why the police want to interview you
Voluntary Interview – What are voluntary interviews?

A voluntary interview is an interview requested by the police in order to assist them with an investigation, and importantly your attendance is not mandatory and requires your consent.

But the seriousness of the interview should not be overlooked simply due to its voluntary nature. During the interview you are under caution, and the interview itself is recorded and can be used as evidence in any criminal proceedings, in the situation where a decision is made to arrest you.

Voluntary Interview – What are the differences from arrest?

It is important to establish that a voluntary interview is not an arrest. They are more informal compared to the standard interviews in arrests. The police turn in favour of a voluntary interview with you if, they either do not think it is necessary to arrest you at the time, or they do not have sufficient evidence to do so.

Voluntary Interview – Why should you attend a voluntary interview?

A benefit of attending a voluntary interview is the ability to gain control over the situation. As with an interview after arrest, you would be able to consult with your solicitor, prior to the interview. And since the interview would be by appointment at a time convenient to you this would allow you more time to organise your answers, as opposed to being arrested suddenly and being underprepared for any questions asked.

Voluntary Interview – What happens if you do not attend?

If you choose not to attend your voluntary interview, you become at risk of being arrested if the police have enough evidence to do so. Therefore, it is in your best interest to attend the voluntary interview.

Voluntary Interview – What are your rights?

Prior and during your voluntary interview, you are entitled to a free solicitor to receive advice from and to be present at the interview. If you opt for a solicitor, you must communicate this to the police interviewer, who must allow you the opportunity to speak to your solicitor before interviewing you. Though a solicitor is optional, it is highly recommended as any information disclosed during the interview can be used in court against you. If you seek a solicitor, your appropriate adult can ask for one on your behalf.

Under 18s have the right to be assisted by an adult. This person is called your ”appropriate adult.” Your appropriate adult must be with you during the stages when the police officer informs you of your rights, as well as when the police caution is read and the officer asks you if you consent to be interviewed. You have the right to speak to your solicitor without the presence of your appropriate adult.

Your appropriate adult must also be present, if available, during the final stages of the police charging or reporting you for an offence.

You are also entitled to a right of silence, which will be communicated to you at the beginning of the interview by the police. Though, if you choose not to answer questions, it may harm your defence.

Additional rights include:

  • Right to leave during the voluntary interview at any time
  • Free right to an interpreter and to have documents translated
  • Free right to contact your embassy for advice if you are not a British National
  • Right to look at the Codes of Practice – which is a list of rules that the police will comply with during the interview
  • Right to know which offence you are thought to have committed and why the police want to interview you
Voluntary Interview – What are voluntary interviews?

A voluntary interview is an interview requested by the police in order to assist them with an investigation. Importantly, it is not mandatory that you attend and such an interview requires your consent.

But the seriousness of the interview should not be overlooked simply due to its voluntary nature. During the interview you are under caution, and the interview itself is recorded and can be used as evidence in any criminal proceedings, in the situation where a decision is made to arrest you.

Voluntary Interview – What are the differences from arrest?

It is important to establish that a voluntary interview is not an arrest. They are more informal compared to the standard interviews in arrests. The police turn in favour of a voluntary interview with you if they either do not think it is necessary to arrest you at the time, or they do not have sufficient evidence to do so.

Voluntary Interview – Why should you attend a voluntary interview?

A benefit of attending a voluntary interview is the ability to gain control over the situation. As with an interview after arrest, you would be able to consult with your solicitor, prior to the interview. And since the interview would be by appointment at a time convenient to you this would allow you more time to organise your answers, as opposed to being arrested suddenly and being underprepared for any questions asked.

Voluntary Interview – What happens if you do not attend?

If you choose not to attend your voluntary interview, you become at risk of being arrested if the police have enough evidence to do so. Therefore, it is in your best interest to attend the voluntary interview.

Voluntary Interview – What are your rights?

Prior to, and during, your voluntary interview you are entitled to a free solicitor to receive advice from and to be present at the interview. If you opt for a solicitor you must communicate this to the police interviewer, who must allow you the opportunity to speak to your solicitor before interviewing you. Though a solicitor is optional, it is highly recommended as any information disclosed during the interview can be used in court against you.

You are also entitled to a right of silence, which will be communicated to you at the beginning of the interview by the police. Though, if you choose not to answer questions, it may harm your defence.

Additional rights include:

  • Right to leave during the voluntary interview at any time
  • Free right to an interpreter and to have documents translated
  • Free right to contact your embassy for advice if you are not a British National
  • Right to look at the Codes of Practice – which is a list of rules that the police will comply with during the interview
  • Right to know which offence you are thought to have committed and why the police want to interview you
Arrest – The Basics

Anyone who is arrested should always seek legal representation even if this might involve some delay to their being interviewed/released. 

An arrest is the apprehending or restraining of a person, to detain them at a police station, whilst an alleged crime is investigated. There are various things to understand if you find that you have been arrested, including: the powers of the police to arrest you, who can be arrested, on what grounds you can be arrested and your rights during and after the arrest.

The power to arrest with a warrant

An arrest warrant is a written order which can be issued by the court. The police are able to apply to a Magistrate for a warrant to arrest a named individual, and this requires written information from the police supported by evidence which shows that the individual who has been named is suspected of committing a crime. Once this warrant has been obtained, the police have the power to arrest the individual.

The power to arrest without a warrant

The police have the power to arrest without a warrant anyone who:

  • Is about to commit an offence.
  • Is committing an offence.
  • Is suspected to be committing an offence (on reasonable grounds).
  • Is suspected to be about to commit an offence (on reasonable grounds).

The arresting officer can arrest someone only if he has reasonable grounds for believing that it is necessary for one of the following reasons:

  • To find out the person’s name and address.
  • To stop them causing physical injury to themselves or others
  • To stop them from suffering injury.
  • To stop them damaging property.
  • To stop them committing an offence against public decency.
  • To prevent causing an unlawful obstruction of the highway.
  • To protect a child or another vulnerable person.
  • To allow a quick and effective investigation of an offence.
  • To prevent the person from disappearing and hindering any prosecution of an offence.

So, what are reasonable grounds?

Having ‘reasonable grounds’ for believing something means that the arresting officer has an honest belief based on facts or evidence that would lead an ordinary person to conclude that the person who had been arrested was guilty of an offence.

What does a lawful arrest require?

Two things:

  • A person’s suspected or attempted involvement in an offence.
  • Reasonable grounds for believing that the arrest is necessary.

During the arrest, the police officer must also tell you that you are under arrest and the grounds for your arrest, which must be explained to you in simple and non-technical language.

Police officers are also permitted to use reasonable force when carrying out an arrest. This means that any force they use must be reasonable in the circumstances, and not excessive. They also retain the right to search an arrested person. They can do this for 3 reasons:

  • If they have reasonable grounds for believing that the person may present a danger to themselves or others.
  • To search for anything they might use to assist them to escape custody.
  • To search for any evidence relating to an offence.

Powers of Detention

Once you are arrested, you must be taken to a designated police station, with a custody officer. Custody officers are experienced officers who are not a part of the investigation team on the offence you’ve been arrested for. They are responsible for those in detention and for keeping records; it is their job to determine whether there is sufficient evidence to charge you, and their job to detain you, and to release you if they do not have sufficient evidence to charge you.

If they have reasonable grounds to believe that it’s necessary to detain you while they obtain evidence relating to the offence you’ve been arrested for, they can authorise keeping you in police detention.

Where they allow you to be kept in police detention without being charged, they must write up a written record of grounds for your detention, as soon as possible, and they should do this in your presence, explaining the grounds, unless –

  • You are incapable of understanding what is said at the time.
  • You are violent, or likely to become violent.
  • You are in need of medical treatment.

Time Limits on Detention

Detention begins when you arrive at the station after arrest and the custody officer declares there is a reason for detention. After this, there must be a review after 6 hours, then 15 hours, and every 9 hours thereafter.

The general rule is that the police may detain someone for 24 hours. They can detain for a further 12 hours (36 hours total) with permission of a senior officer, but only if you are under arrest for an indictable offence (this is a more serious offence, that can only be tried in the Crown Court). For indictable offences, you can be detained beyond 36 hours, but only if the police apply to the Magistrates’ Court. They can allow detention of up to 96 hours, but this must be done in two applications to the Magistrates’ Court – the first can permit a further 36 hours detention (72 hours total) and 24 hours upon second application (96 hours total).

Arrest – Your Rights

Anyone who is arrested should always seek legal representation even if this might involve some delay to their being interviewed/released. 

An arrest is the apprehending or restraining of a person, to detain them at a police station, whilst an alleged crime is investigated. There are various things to understand if you find that you have been arrested, including: the powers of the police to arrest you, who can be arrested, on what grounds you can be arrested and your rights during and after the arrest.

The power to arrest with a warrant

An arrest warrant is a written order which can be issued by the court. The police are able to apply to a Magistrate for a warrant to arrest a named individual, and this requires written information from the police supported by evidence which shows that the individual who has been named is suspected of committing a crime. Once this warrant has been obtained, the police have the power to arrest the individual.

The power to arrest without a warrant

The police have the power to arrest without a warrant anyone who:

  • Is about to commit an offence.
  • Is committing an offence.
  • Is suspected to be committing an offence (on reasonable grounds).
  • Is suspected to be about to commit an offence (on reasonable grounds).

The arresting officer can arrest someone only if he has reasonable grounds for believing that it is necessary for one of the following reasons:

  • To find out the person’s name and address.
  • To stop them causing physical injury to themselves or others
  • To stop them from suffering injury.
  • To stop them damaging property.
  • To stop them committing an offence against public decency.
  • To prevent causing an unlawful obstruction of the highway.
  • To protect a child or another vulnerable person.
  • To allow a quick and effective investigation of an offence.
  • To prevent the person from disappearing and hindering any prosecution of an offence.

So, what are reasonable grounds?

Having ‘reasonable grounds’ for believing something means that the arresting officer has an honest belief based on facts or evidence that would lead an ordinary person to conclude that the person who had been arrested was guilty of an offence.

What does a lawful arrest require?

Two things:

  • A person’s suspected or attempted involvement in an offence.
  • Reasonable grounds for believing that the arrest is necessary.

During the arrest, the police officer must also tell you that you are under arrest and the grounds for your arrest, which must be explained to you in simple and non-technical language.

Police officers are also permitted to use reasonable force when carrying out an arrest. This means that any force they use must be reasonable in the circumstances, and not excessive. They also retain the right to search an arrested person. They can do this for 3 reasons:

  1. If they have reasonable grounds for believing that the person may present a danger to themselves or others.
  • To search for anything they might use to assist them to escape custody.
  • To search for any evidence relating to an offence.

Powers of Detention

Once you are arrested, you must be taken to a designated police station, with a custody officer. Custody officers are experienced officers who are not a part of the investigation team on the offence you’ve been arrested for. They are responsible for those in detention and for keeping records; it is their job to determine whether there is sufficient evidence to charge you, and their job to detain you, and to release you if they do not have sufficient evidence to charge you.

If they have reasonable grounds to believe that it’s necessary to detain you while they obtain evidence relating to the offence you’ve been arrested for, they can authorise keeping you in police detention.

Where they allow you to be kept in police detention without being charged, they must write up a written record of grounds for your detention, as soon as possible, and they should do this in your presence, explaining the grounds, unless –

  • You are incapable of understanding what is said at the time.
  • You are violent, or likely to become violent.
  • You are in need of medical treatment.

Time Limits on Detention

Detention begins when you arrive at the station after arrest and the custody officer declares there is a reason for detention. After this, there must be a review after 6 hours, then 15 hours, and every 9 hours thereafter.

The general rule is that the police may detain someone for 24 hours. They can detain for a further 12 hours (36 hours total) with permission of a senior officer, but only if you are under arrest for an indictable offence (this is a more serious offence, that can only be tried in the Crown Court). For indictable offences, you can be detained beyond 36 hours, but only if the police apply to the Magistrates’ Court. They can allow detention of up to 96 hours, but this must be done in two applications to the Magistrates’ Court – the first can permit a further 36 hours detention (72 hours total) and 24 hours upon second application (96 hours total).

Arrest – The Basics

Anyone who is arrested should always seek legal representation even if this might involve some delay to their being interviewed/released. 

An arrest is the apprehending or restraining of a person, to detain them at a police station, whilst an alleged crime is investigated. There are various things to understand if you find that you have been arrested, including: the powers of the police to arrest you, who can be arrested, on what grounds you can be arrested and your rights during and after the arrest.

The power to arrest with a warrant

An arrest warrant is a written order which can be issued by the court. The police are able to apply to a Magistrate for a warrant to arrest a named individual, and this requires written information from the police supported by evidence which shows that the individual who has been named is suspected of committing a crime. Once this warrant has been obtained, the police have the power to arrest the individual.

The power to arrest without a warrant

The police have the power to arrest without a warrant anyone who:

  • Is about to commit an offence.
  • Is committing an offence.
  • Is suspected to be committing an offence (on reasonable grounds).
  • Is suspected to be about to commit an offence (on reasonable grounds).

The arresting officer can arrest someone only if he has reasonable grounds for believing that it is necessary for one of the following reasons:

  • To find out the person’s name and address.
  • To stop them causing physical injury to themselves or others
  • To stop them from suffering injury.
  • To stop them damaging property.
  • To stop them committing an offence against public decency.
  • To prevent causing an unlawful obstruction of the highway.
  • To protect a child or another vulnerable person.
  • To allow a quick and effective investigation of an offence.
  • To prevent the person from disappearing and hindering any prosecution of an offence.

So, what are reasonable grounds?

Having ‘reasonable grounds’ for believing something means that the arresting officer has an honest belief based on facts or evidence that would lead an ordinary person to conclude that the person who had been arrested was guilty of an offence.

What does a lawful arrest require?

Two things:

  • A person’s suspected or attempted involvement in an offence.
  • Reasonable grounds for believing that the arrest is necessary.

During the arrest, the police officer must also tell you that you are under arrest and the grounds for your arrest, which must be explained to you in simple and non-technical language.

Police officers are also permitted to use reasonable force when carrying out an arrest. This means that any force they use must be reasonable in the circumstances, and not excessive. They also retain the right to search an arrested person. They can do this for 3 reasons:

  • If they have reasonable grounds for believing that the person may present a danger to themselves or others.
  • To search for anything they might use to assist them to escape custody.
  • To search for any evidence relating to an offence.

Powers of Detention

Once you are arrested, you must be taken to a designated police station, with a custody officer. Custody officers are experienced officers who are not a part of the investigation team on the offence you’ve been arrested for. They are responsible for those in detention and for keeping records; it is their job to determine whether there is sufficient evidence to charge you, and their job to detain you, and to release you if they do not have sufficient evidence to charge you.

If they have reasonable grounds to believe that it’s necessary to detain you while they obtain evidence relating to the offence you’ve been arrested for, they can authorise keeping you in police detention.

Where they allow you to be kept in police detention without being charged, they must write up a written record of grounds for your detention, as soon as possible, and they should do this in your presence, explaining the grounds, unless –

  • You are incapable of understanding what is said at the time.
  • You are violent, or likely to become violent.
  • You are in need of medical treatment.

Time Limits on Detention

Detention begins when you arrive at the station after arrest and the custody officer declares there is a reason for detention. After this, there must be a review after 6 hours, then 15 hours, and every 9 hours thereafter.

The general rule is that the police may detain someone for 24 hours. They can detain for a further 12 hours (36 hours total) with permission of a senior officer, but only if you are under arrest for an indictable offence (this is a more serious offence, that can only be tried in the Crown Court). For indictable offences, you can be detained beyond 36 hours, but only if the police apply to the Magistrates’ Court. They can allow detention of up to 96 hours, but this must be done in two applications to the Magistrates’ Court – the first can permit a further 36 hours detention (72 hours total) and 24 hours upon second application (96 hours total).

Arrest – Your Rights

Anyone who is arrested should always seek legal representation even if this might involve some delay to their being interviewed/released. 

An arrest is the apprehending or restraining of a person, to detain them at a police station, whilst an alleged crime is investigated. There are various things to understand if you find that you have been arrested, including: the powers of the police to arrest you, who can be arrested, on what grounds you can be arrested and your rights during and after the arrest.

The power to arrest with a warrant

An arrest warrant is a written order which can be issued by the court. The police are able to apply to a Magistrate for a warrant to arrest a named individual, and this requires written information from the police supported by evidence which shows that the individual who has been named is suspected of committing a crime. Once this warrant has been obtained, the police have the power to arrest the individual.

The power to arrest without a warrant

The police have the power to arrest without a warrant anyone who:

  • Is about to commit an offence.
  • Is committing an offence.
  • Is suspected to be committing an offence (on reasonable grounds).
  • Is suspected to be about to commit an offence (on reasonable grounds).

The arresting officer can arrest someone only if he has reasonable grounds for believing that it is necessary for one of the following reasons:

  • To find out the person’s name and address.
  • To stop them causing physical injury to themselves or others
  • To stop them from suffering injury.
  • To stop them damaging property.
  • To stop them committing an offence against public decency.
  • To prevent causing an unlawful obstruction of the highway.
  • To protect a child or another vulnerable person.
  • To allow a quick and effective investigation of an offence.
  • To prevent the person from disappearing and hindering any prosecution of an offence.

So, what are reasonable grounds?

Having ‘reasonable grounds’ for believing something means that the arresting officer has an honest belief based on facts or evidence that would lead an ordinary person to conclude that the person who had been arrested was guilty of an offence.

What does a lawful arrest require?

Two things:

  • A person’s suspected or attempted involvement in an offence.
  • Reasonable grounds for believing that the arrest is necessary.

During the arrest, the police officer must also tell you that you are under arrest and the grounds for your arrest, which must be explained to you in simple and non-technical language.

Police officers are also permitted to use reasonable force when carrying out an arrest. This means that any force they use must be reasonable in the circumstances, and not excessive. They also retain the right to search an arrested person. They can do this for 3 reasons:

  • If they have reasonable grounds for believing that the person may present a danger to themselves or others.
  • To search for anything they might use to assist them to escape custody.
  • To search for any evidence relating to an offence.

Powers of Detention

Once you are arrested, you must be taken to a designated police station, with a custody officer. Custody officers are experienced officers who are not a part of the investigation team on the offence you’ve been arrested for. They are responsible for those in detention and for keeping records; it is their job to determine whether there is sufficient evidence to charge you, and their job to detain you, and to release you if they do not have sufficient evidence to charge you.

If they have reasonable grounds to believe that it’s necessary to detain you while they obtain evidence relating to the offence you’ve been arrested for, they can authorise keeping you in police detention.

Where they allow you to be kept in police detention without being charged, they must write up a written record of grounds for your detention, as soon as possible, and they should do this in your presence, explaining the grounds, unless –

  • You are incapable of understanding what is said at the time.
  • You are violent, or likely to become violent.
  • You are in need of medical treatment.

Time Limits on Detention

Detention begins when you arrive at the station after arrest and the custody officer declares there is a reason for detention. After this, there must be a review after 6 hours, then 15 hours, and every 9 hours thereafter.

The general rule is that the police may detain someone for 24 hours. They can detain for a further 12 hours (36 hours total) with permission of a senior officer, but only if you are under arrest for an indictable offence (this is a more serious offence, that can only be tried in the Crown Court). For indictable offences, you can be detained beyond 36 hours, but only if the police apply to the Magistrates’ Court. They can allow detention of up to 96 hours, but this must be done in two applications to the Magistrates’ Court – the first can permit a further 36 hours detention (72 hours total) and 24 hours upon second application (96 hours total).

Arrest – The Basics

Anyone who is arrested should always seek legal representation even if this might involve some delay to their being interviewed/released. 

An arrest is the apprehending or restraining of a person, to detain them at a police station, whilst an alleged crime is investigated. There are various things to understand if you find that you have been arrested, including: the powers of the police to arrest you, who can be arrested, on what grounds you can be arrested and your rights during and after the arrest.

The power to arrest with a warrant

An arrest warrant is a written order which can be issued by the court. The police are able to apply to a Magistrate for a warrant to arrest a named individual, and this requires written information from the police supported by evidence which shows that the individual who has been named is suspected of committing a crime. Once this warrant has been obtained, the police have the power to arrest the individual.

The power to arrest without a warrant

The police have the power to arrest without a warrant anyone who:

  • Is about to commit an offence.
  • Is committing an offence.
  • Is suspected to be committing an offence (on reasonable grounds).
  • Is suspected to be about to commit an offence (on reasonable grounds).

The arresting officer can arrest someone only if he has reasonable grounds for believing that it is necessary for one of the following reasons:

  • To find out the person’s name and address.
  • To stop them causing physical injury to themselves or others
  • To stop them from suffering injury.
  • To stop them damaging property.
  • To stop them committing an offence against public decency.
  • To prevent causing an unlawful obstruction of the highway.
  • To protect a child or another vulnerable person.
  • To allow a quick and effective investigation of an offence.
  • To prevent the person from disappearing and hindering any prosecution of an offence.

So, what are reasonable grounds?

Having ‘reasonable grounds’ for believing something means that the arresting officer has an honest belief based on facts or evidence that would lead an ordinary person to conclude that the person who had been arrested was guilty of an offence.

What does a lawful arrest require?

Two things:

  • A person’s suspected or attempted involvement in an offence.
  • Reasonable grounds for believing that the arrest is necessary.

During the arrest, the police officer must also tell you that you are under arrest and the grounds for your arrest, which must be explained to you in simple and non-technical language.

Police officers are also permitted to use reasonable force when carrying out an arrest. This means that any force they use must be reasonable in the circumstances, and not excessive. They also retain the right to search an arrested person. They can do this for 3 reasons:

  • If they have reasonable grounds for believing that the person may present a danger to themselves or others.
  • To search for anything they might use to assist them to escape custody.
  • To search for any evidence relating to an offence.

Powers of Detention

Once you are arrested, you must be taken to a designated police station, with a custody officer. Custody officers are experienced officers who are not a part of the investigation team on the offence you’ve been arrested for. They are responsible for those in detention and for keeping records; it is their job to determine whether there is sufficient evidence to charge you, and their job to detain you, and to release you if they do not have sufficient evidence to charge you.

If they have reasonable grounds to believe that it’s necessary to detain you while they obtain evidence relating to the offence you’ve been arrested for, they can authorise keeping you in police detention.

Where they allow you to be kept in police detention without being charged, they must write up a written record of grounds for your detention, as soon as possible, and they should do this in your presence, explaining the grounds, unless –

  • You are incapable of understanding what is said at the time.
  • You are violent, or likely to become violent.
  • You are in need of medical treatment.

Time Limits on Detention

Detention begins when you arrive at the station after arrest and the custody officer declares there is a reason for detention. After this, there must be a review after 6 hours, then 15 hours, and every 9 hours thereafter.

The general rule is that the police may detain someone for 24 hours. They can detain for a further 12 hours (36 hours total) with permission of a senior officer, but only if you are under arrest for an indictable offence (this is a more serious offence, that can only be tried in the Crown Court such as rape, robbery or some serious assaults).

For indictable offences, you can be detained beyond 36 hours, but only if the police apply to the Magistrates’ Court. They can allow detention of up to 96 hours, but this must be done in two applications to the Magistrates’ Court – the first can permit a further 36 hours detention (72 hours total) and 24 hours upon second application (96 hours total).

Arrest – Your Rights

Right to have someone informed

You have the right to have someone informed of your detention, as soon as is practicable. This extends to one friend, relative or another person who is likely to take an interest in your welfare. The police will normally ask for 3-4 names and numbers in order to fulfil this obligation, but only one will be informed.

If you are detained in connection with an indictable offence, a senior police officer may delay informing someone for up to 36 hours. However, they can only do this if they have reasonable grounds to believe that telling the person will –

  • Interfere with or harm evidence
  • Interfere with or harm other people
  • Alert others involved in the offence, or
  • Slow down the recovery of property obtained through the offence.

Making a telephone call

You may also be allowed to speak on the phone to one person, for a reasonable time. This is in addition to the right to have someone informed of the arrest. Unless the call is to a solicitor, a police officer can listen to the call and is allowed to terminate it if they believe it is being abused.

You must be warned and should be aware if there is anything you say in a call, to anyone other than your solicitor, it can be given in evidence, and that this is not an absolute right – it can be refused or delayed by the police.

Right to legal advice

You can either contact your own solicitor if you have one or use the duty solicitors provided for free for anyone under arrest.

If you are suspected of committing an indictable offence, an officer of superintendent rank or above might delay informing someone for up to 36 hours, if they have reasonable grounds for believing that not doing this will –

  • Lead to interference with, or harm to, evidence connected to the offence.
  • Lead to interference with, or harm to, other people.
  • Lead to serious loss of, or damage to, property.
  • Lead to alerting other people suspected of having committed an offence but not yet arrested for it.

Delaying the right to legal advice can only be justified on rare occasions though, and the decision must be based on specific aspects of the case, not just a general assumption that access to a solicitor might lead to the alerting of accomplices.

The police are allowed to start questioning before the solicitor arrives if the matter is urgent, or the solicitor is likely to be delayed for some time. You are also allowed to consult the police Code of Practice which sets out police rules relating to detention.

Cell conditions

Cells must be adequately heated, lit, cleaned and ventilated. You are allowed at least two light meals and one main meal in any 24-hour period. Drinks should be provided at mealtimes and upon reasonable requests between meals. You must also be allowed eight hours continuous rest in a 24-hour period.

Your rights during interview

All interviews at a police station have to be tape-recorded (in accordance with PACE Code E) and in some cases (determined by Code F), the interview must be video recorded. Video recordings are more likely to be considered where –

  • You or your solicitor or appropriate adult requests for the interview to be visually recorded.
  • You or someone else present is deaf or deaf/blind or speech impaired and uses sign language.
  • The interviewer suspects that you might demonstrate your actions or behaviour at the time or to examine a particular item or object handed to you.
  • The authorised recording device used in accordance with Code E incorporates a camera and creates a combined audio and visual recording and does not allow the visual recording function to operate independently of the audio recording function.

The interview rooms must be adequately heated, lit and ventilated. Breaks should take place at recognised mealtimes and there should be a short refreshment break every two hours. You can only be interviewed under caution – you have to be warned of your right to silence, but that if you don’t answer questions it can go against your case.

Pace Codes of Practice

https://www.gov.uk/guidance/police-and-criminal-evidence-act-1984-pace-codes-of-practice (Please check that these codes are up-to-date at the time of viewing)

Treatment of suspects and exclusion of evidence

The court has power to prevent the prosecution using statements which have been obtained through oppression to be used as evidence which includes lies, manipulation or abuse of power.

Right to Silence

You can refuse to answer any questions asked during your interviews, but the law allows inferences to be drawn from the fact that a suspect has refused to answer questions. If your case goes to trial, the judge can comment on your failure to mention a crucial matter and this can form part of the evidence against you at trial.

Strip searches

The custody officer must check the property you have with you. This means that you might be searched if the officer thinks this is necessary to carry out his/her duty to the extent that the custody officer considers necessary.

Clothes and personal effects may only be seized if the custody officer believes that you might use them –

  • To cause physical injury to yourself or someone else.
  • To damage property
  • To interfere with evidence
  • To assist you to escape
  • Or that it may be evidence relating to an offence.

This involves the removal of more than outer clothing, including shoes and socks. This is only allowed if it’s necessary to remove something you should not be allowed to keep and there is a reasonable suspicion that the suspect might have concealed such an article.

The search must be conducted by a member of the same sex in a place where it cannot be seen by anyone who does not need to be present. You should not normally be required to remove all clothing at the same time.

Intimate searches

This consists of the physical examination of a person’s body orifices other than the mouth. This can only be authorised by a high-ranking officer if there are reasonable grounds to believe you might have concealed an item which could be used to cause injury to yourself or others or, that you’re in possession of a Class A drug, and this is the only means of removing the item.

Two people must be present in addition to you. Where drugs are concerned, the search must be carried out by a suitably qualified person such as a doctor or nurse at medical premises. Other searches can be conducted by a same sex constable, if an Inspector authorises it, but only as a last resort.

Fingerprints and body samples

Fingerprints can be taken by the police at the police station. They will ask you to agree to this, but if you do not consent the police can use reasonable force to take fingerprints.

“Intimate samples” may include dental impressions, samples of blood, semen or any other tissue fluid, urine or pubic hair, or a swab taken from any part of your genitals or from a body orifice other than the mouth. They can be taken if –

  • A police officer of Inspector rank or above has reasonable grounds to believe such an impression or sample will confirm or disprove the suspect’s involvement in a recordable offence and gives authorisation for a sample to be taken.
  • With your written consent
  • You must be informed of the reason, including the nature of the suspected offence.
  • You must also be informed that authorisation has been given, and a sample taken at the police station may be subject of a speculative search. You must also be warned that if you refuse without good cause, this refusal may harm your case if it comes to trial.

Non-intimate samples may be taken without consent and reasonable force may be used. These include samples of hair, other than pubic hair, which includes hair plucked from the root, a sample taken from a nail or from under a nail, a swab taken from any part of a person’s body other than a part from which an intimate swab would be taken, or saliva.

Bail & Remand – Definitions

Bail – Where a person is released by the Police, Magistrates’ Court or Crown Court after being charged with an offence and is allowed to go home whilst awaiting his trial.

However, in some cases, conditions may be imposed upon a person’s bail.

Remand – Where a person is placed into custody (e.g. a prison or detention centre) once he has been charged with an offence. The person will remain in custody until the hearing at the Magistrates’ court. At the hearing, the Magistrates may decide that the person shall remain in custody until his trial date or may be granted bail (which may be subject to conditions) until his trial date.

Bail & Remand – Pre-charge Bail

If the police are not yet in a position to charge a suspect and can no longer detain the suspect for questioning, the suspect must be released. The police may release the suspect either on bail (this may be subject to conditions and the police have certain powers of arrest where such conditions have been breached) or without bail to investigate further on the matter.

If the police release the suspect on bail, they can only allow that person to be on bail for a maximum of 28 days (however, in rare circumstances, this may be extended). Within this 28-day period, the police will carry out further enquiries and obtain a decision as to whether the suspect should be charged or not.

Bail & Remand – General right to bail and exclusions

Generally, everyone has a right to bail but this general right will not apply where a person is charged with Murder, Manslaughter, a Serious Sexual Offence or is a Class A Drug User (if any of these charges apply, bail will only be granted if there are exceptional circumstances to justify it).

There may be other situations where bail is unlikely to be granted. For example, if someone is charged with a serious crime not listed above (i.e. armed robbery), if they have past convictions for serious crimes, if they have previously been given bail but breached the conditions or if the police have reason to believe that the person may commit a crime whilst on bail or will not turn up for their hearing.

Bail & Remand – Unconditional Bail

Bail can be given unconditionally (without conditions). This means that there are no rules attached to it and the person given bail does not need to comply with any specific requirements.

Alternatively, a person may be given conditional bail which means they will need to follow certain rules (See relevant section below for more information).

Bail & Remand – Conditional Bail

If someone is given conditional bail, they may need to follow certain rules, for example:

–        Reporting to the Police station at regular agreed times. 

–        Not driving whilst on bail 

–        Not contacting certain people 

–        Notifying the prosecutor of the address that they staying at 

–        Adhering to a curfew (this may be checked by electronic monitoring)

–        Agreeing to electronic monitoring with a GPS Location tracker

–        Making a payment 

–        Surrendering a document or item

–        Giving a security (ie. giving an item such as a passport to the courts or police – this item will be returned to you at the end of your bail).

Bail & Remand – Breach of Bail

Breach of conditions for bail – where a person has broken one or more condition(s) of their bail then there may be consequences.

A police officer has the power to arrest a person if he has reasonable grounds to believe that the person on bail is likely to break one of the bail conditions or if the person has already broken one of these conditions.

Once the person has been arrested, that person must be brought before the Magistrates’ court and be dealt with within 24 hours of the arrest.

Consequently, the Magistrates’ Court may decide to place that person in remand (custody) or may grant him bail, subject to the same or different conditions as before. 

Bail & Remand – Reasons for Remand

A person charged with an offence may be placed in remand if: 

–        They are charged with a serious crime, 

–        If they have been convicted in the past for a serious crime, 

–        If the police believe that the person on bail will not attend the court hearing,

–        If they have previously been given bail but breached the conditions or

–        If the police have reason to believe that they may commit a crime whilst on bail.

Bail & Remand – Rights in Remand

If a person is put on remand before the trial takes place, the individual has not been convicted of the crime but merely placed in custody until the trial. This means that they should not be treated as a prisoner and will have certain rights such as wearing their own clothes, having more frequent visits etc. 

Bail & Remand – Definitions

Bail – Where a person is released by the Police, Magistrates’ Court or Crown Court after being charged with an offence and is allowed to go home whilst awaiting his trial.

However, in some cases, conditions may be imposed upon a person’s bail.

Remand – Where a person is placed into custody once he has been charged with an offence. Individuals under 18 who are placed on remand will be taken to a secure centre for young people and not be placed in an adult prison.  The person will remain in custody until the hearing at the Magistrates’ court. At the hearing, the Magistrates may decide that the person shall remain in custody until his trial date or may be granted bail (which may be subject to conditions) until his trial date.

Bail & Remand – Pre-charge Bail

If the police are not yet in a position to charge a suspect and can no longer detain the suspect for questioning, the suspect must be released. The police may release the suspect either on bail (this may be subject to conditions and the police have certain powers of arrest where such conditions have been breached) or without bail to investigate further on the matter.

If the police release the suspect on bail, they can only allow that person to be on bail for a maximum of 28 days (however, in rare circumstances, this may be extended). Within this 28-day period, the police will carry out further enquiries and obtain a decision as to whether the suspect should be charged or not.

Bail & Remand – General right to bail and exclusions

Generally, everyone has a right to bail but this general right will not apply where a person is charged with Murder, Manslaughter, a Serious Sexual Offence or is a Class A Drug User (if any of these charges apply, bail will only be granted if there are exceptional circumstances to justify it).

There may be other situations where bail is unlikely to be granted. For example, if someone is charged with a serious crime not listed above (i.e. armed robbery), if they have past convictions for serious crimes, if they have previously been given bail but breached the conditions or if the police have reason to believe that the person may commit a crime whilst on bail or will not turn up for their hearing. 

Bail & Remand – Unconditional Bail

Bail can be given unconditionally (without conditions). This means that there are no rules attached to it and the person given bail does not need to comply with any specific requirements.

Alternatively, a person may be given conditional bail which means they will need to follow certain rules (See relevant section below for more information).

Bail & Remand – Conditional Bail

If someone is given conditional bail, they may need to follow certain rules, for example:

–        Reporting to the Police station at regular agreed times. 

–        Not driving whilst on bail 

–        Not contacting certain people 

–        Notifying the prosecutor of the address that they staying at 

–        Adhering to a curfew (this may be checked by electronic monitoring)

–        Agreeing to electronic monitoring with a GPS Location tracker

–        Making a payment 

–        Surrendering a document or item

–        Giving a security (ie. giving an item such as a passport to the courts or police – this item will be returned to you at the end of your bail).

  • They may also be subject to the condition that they must attend and participate in bail support, bail support and supervision as well as Intensive and Surveillance (ISS) Programme.

Bail conditions for under 18’s:

  • Youths may be subject to similar conditions as adults (see above). They may also be subject to the condition that they must attend and participate in bail support, bail support and supervision as well as Intensive and Surveillance (ISS) Programme.
Bail & Remand – Breach of Bail

Breach of conditions for bail – where a person has broken one or more condition(s) of their bail then there may be consequences.

A police officer has the power to arrest a person if he has reasonable grounds to believe that the person on bail is likely to break one of the bail conditions or if the person has already broken one of these conditions.

Once the person has been arrested, that person must be brought before the Magistrates’ court and be dealt with within 24 hours of the arrest.

Consequently, the Magistrates’ Court may decide to place that person in remand (custody) or may grant him bail, subject to the same or different conditions as before. 

Bail & Remand – Reasons for Remand

A person charged with an offence may be placed in remand if: 

–        They are charged with a serious crime, 

–        If they have been convicted in the past for a serious crime, 

–        If the police believe that the person on bail will not attend the court hearing,

–        If they have previously been given bail but breached the conditions or

–        If the police have reason to believe that they may commit a crime whilst on bail.

Bail & Remand – Rights in Remand

If a person is put on remand before the trial takes place, the individual has not been convicted of the crime but merely placed in custody until the trial. This means that they should not be treated as a prisoner and will have certain rights such as wearing their own clothes, having more frequent visits etc. 

Bail & Remand – Definitions

Bail – Where a person is released by the Police, Magistrates’ Court or Crown Court after being charged with an offence and is allowed to go home whilst awaiting his trial.

However, in some cases, conditions may be imposed upon a person’s bail.

Remand – Where a person is placed into custody (e.g. a prison or detention centre) once he has been charged with an offence. The person will remain in custody until the hearing at the Magistrates’ court. At the hearing, the Magistrates may decide that the person shall remain in custody until his trial date or may be granted bail (which may be subject to conditions) until his trial date.

Bail & Remand – Pre-charge Bail

If the police are not yet in a position to charge a suspect and can no longer detain the suspect for questioning, the suspect must be released. The police may release the suspect either on bail (this may be subject to conditions and the police have certain powers of arrest where such conditions have been breached) or without bail to investigate further on the matter.

If the police release the suspect on bail, they can only allow that person to be on bail for a maximum of 28 days (however, in rare circumstances, this may be extended). Within this 28-day period, the police will carry out further enquiries and obtain a decision as to whether the suspect should be charged or not.

Bail & Remand – General right to bail and exclusions

Generally, everyone has a right to bail but this general right will not apply where a person is charged with Murder, Manslaughter, a Serious Sexual Offence or is a Class A Drug User (if any of these charges apply, bail will only be granted if there are exceptional circumstances to justify it).

There may be other situations where bail is unlikely to be granted. For example, if someone is charged with a serious crime not listed above (i.e. armed robbery), if they have past convictions for serious crimes, if they have previously been given bail but breached the conditions or if the police have reason to believe that the person may commit a crime whilst on bail or will not turn up for their hearing. 

Bail & Remand – Unconditional Bail

Bail can be given unconditionally (without conditions). This means that there are no rules attached to it and the person given bail does not need to comply with any specific requirements.

Alternatively, a person may be given conditional bail which means they will need to follow certain rules (See relevant section below for more information).

Bail & Remand – Conditional Bail

If someone is given conditional bail, they may need to follow certain rules, for example:

–        Reporting to the Police station at regular agreed times. 

–        Not driving whilst on bail 

–        Not contacting certain people 

–        Notifying the prosecutor of the address that they staying at 

–        Adhering to a curfew (this may be checked by electronic monitoring)

–        Agreeing to electronic monitoring with a GPS Location tracker

–        Making a payment 

–        Surrendering a document or item

–        Giving a security (ie. giving an item such as a passport to the courts or police – this item will be returned to you at the end of your bail).

Bail & Remand – Breach of Bail

Breach of conditions for bail – where a person has broken one or more condition(s) of their bail then there may be consequences.

A police officer has the power to arrest a person if he has reasonable grounds to believe that the person on bail is likely to break one of the bail conditions or if the person has already broken one of these conditions.

Once the person has been arrested, that person must be brought before the Magistrates’ court and be dealt with within 24 hours of the arrest.

Consequently, the Magistrates’ Court may decide to place that person in remand (custody) or may grant him bail, subject to the same or different conditions as before. 

Bail & Remand – Reasons for Remand

A person charged with an offence may be placed in remand if: 

–        They are charged with a serious crime, 

–        If they have been convicted in the past for a serious crime, 

–        If the police believe that the person on bail will not attend the court hearing,

–        If they have previously been given bail but breached the conditions or

–        If the police have reason to believe that they may commit a crime whilst on bail.

Bail & Remand – Rights in Remand

If a person is put on remand before the trial takes place, the individual has not been convicted of the crime but merely placed in custody until the trial. This means that they should not be treated as a prisoner and will have certain rights such as wearing their own clothes, having more frequent visits etc. 

Police Investigation – When does a suspect become aware of a police investigation?

Suspects will generally become aware of in investigation taking place if the police ask to question them, or the suspect is arrested, searched or held in police custody.

Police Investigation How long will the investigation take?

If a person is interviewed or arrested, they may then be released under investigation or released on bail.

Subsequently there is no time frame for how long an investigation may take, if the investigation is straight forward then it may take just a few hours. However more complex cases may take years.

The police will try and keep suspects updated at important points in the investigation and will contact suspects at the end of an investigation.

Police Investigation What will the Police investigate?

Suspects are often asked to provide significant amounts of information to the police, this may include access to their mobile phones, medical records and financial evidence.

The police are responsible for the investigation and it is their duty to investigate aspects that they believe to be important. Once the police have decided that they have enough evidence from the investigation, they will refer their findings to the Crown Prosecution Service.

Police Investigation What happens after the police have their information/ after an interview?

Police may decide straight away that they do not wish to proceed further with the suspect.

Sometimes, if the police need more information then suspects will be released under investigation or released on bail.

Police Investigation What does being released under investigation mean?

If a suspect is released under investigation, then this means the police are continuing their investigation but there is no need for a suspect to return to the police station, and there are no other conditions attached. Suspects will wait for the police to contact them with more information.

Police Investigation What will happen if the Police charge me?

If a suspect is charged with an offence, then they will be given a court date to attend. Being charged with an offence does not mean a suspect has been convicted, further action can be taken if the suspect pleads not guilty leading to a formal investigation and court trial.

Police Investigation – When does a suspect become aware of a police investigation?

Suspects will generally become aware of in investigation taking place if the police ask to question them, or the suspect is arrested, searched or held in police custody.

Police Investigation How long will the investigation take?

If a person is interviewed or arrested, they may then be released under investigation or released on bail.

Subsequently there is no time frame for how long an investigation may take, if the investigation is straight forward then it may take just a few hours. However more complex cases may take years.

The police will try and keep suspects updated at important points in the investigation and will contact suspects at the end of an investigation.

Police Investigation What will the Police investigate?

Suspects are often asked to provide significant amounts of information to the police, this may include access to their mobile phones, medical records and financial evidence.

The police are responsible for the investigation and it is their duty to investigate aspects that they believe to be important. Once the police have decided that they have enough evidence from the investigation, they will refer their findings to the Crown Prosecution Service.

Police Investigation What happens after the police have their information/ after an interview?

Police may decide straight away that they do not wish to proceed further with the suspect.

Sometimes, if the police need more information then suspects will be released under investigation or released on bail.

Police Investigation What does being released under investigation mean?

If a suspect is released under investigation, then this means the police are continuing their investigation but there is no need for a suspect to return to the police station, and there are no other conditions attached. Suspects will wait for the police to contact them with more information.

Police Investigation – What does Police Bail mean?

If a suspect is released under police bail this means that the suspect has an obligation to return to the police station at a specified time and date. Conditions may also be placed on suspects, for example curfews to abide by may be given. If bail is breached by either not turning up to the police station or violating conditions, then the police can arrest the suspect and bring them to court. In some instances, a suspect may be sent to prison.

Police Investigation What will happen if the Police charge me?

If a suspect is charged with an offence, then they will be given a court date to attend. Being charged with an offence does not mean a suspect has been convicted, further action can be taken if the suspect pleads not guilty leading to a formal investigation and court trial.

Police Investigation – When does a suspect become aware of a police investigation?

Suspects will generally become aware of in investigation taking place if the police ask to question them, or the suspect is arrested, searched or held in police custody.

Police Investigation – How long will the investigation take?

If a person is interviewed or arrested, they may then be released under investigation or released on bail.

Subsequently there is no time frame for how long an investigation may take, if the investigation is straight forward then it may take just a few hours. However more complex cases may take years.

The police will try and keep suspects updated at important points in the investigation and will contact suspects at the end of an investigation.

Police Investigation – What will the Police investigate?

Suspects are often asked to provide significant amounts of information to the police, this may include access to their mobile phones, medical records and financial evidence.

The police are responsible for the investigation and it is their duty to investigate aspects that they believe to be important. Once the police have decided that they have enough evidence from the investigation, they will refer their findings to the Crown Prosecution Service.

Police Investigation – What happens after the police have their information/ after an interview?

Police may decide straight away that they do not wish to proceed further with the suspect.

Sometimes, if the police need more information then suspects will be released under investigation or released on bail.

Police Investigation – What does being released under investigation mean?

If a suspect is released under investigation, then this means the police are continuing their investigation but there is no need for a suspect to return to the police station, or any other conditions attached. Suspects will wait for the police to contact them with more information.

Police Investigation – What does Police Bail mean?

If a suspect is released under police bail this means that the suspect has an obligation to return to the police station at a specified time and date. Conditions may also be placed on suspects, for example curfews to abide by may be given. If bail is breached by either not turning up to the police station or violating conditions, then the police can arrest the suspect and bring them to court. In some instances, a suspect may be sent to prison.

Police Investigation – What will happen if the Police charge me?

If a suspect is charged with an offence, then they will be given a court date to attend. Being charged with an offence does not mean a suspect has been convicted, further action can be taken if the suspect pleads not guilty leading to a formal investigation and court trial.

Support – Before Charge
Rights at Police Station

If taken to the police station, you have the right to:

  • free legal advice
  • be given your rights in writing and in your first language
  • a free interpreter or signer if needed
  • tell someone where you are, commonly known as the right to a phone call
  • see the rules that the police must follow
  • medical help if required

You must be told about your right to free legal advice after you have been arrested and before you are questioned at a police station. If you have asked for legal advice the police cannot question you until you have received this, although there are some rare exceptions to this.

If you require any additional support or wish to exercise any other of your rights listed above, then let the custody sergeant know.

 

Vulnerable Adults

The police must try to contact find an ‘appropriate adult’ to come to the station to help you and be present during questioning and searching. An appropriate adult will protect your welfare and make sure that you understand the information. An appropriate adult can be:

  • your  carer
  • a social worker
  • another family member or friend aged 18 or over
  • a volunteer aged 18 or over.

 

If asked to attend for interview voluntarily

If asked to attend voluntarily for an interview, you have the same rights and support available to you as if you were arrested. As you haven’t been arrested the police can’t impose bail conditions after the interview so you will be free to leave, unless charged as a result of the interview.

You also do not have to agree to a voluntary interview, but If you don’t agree to go voluntarily the police may consider whether to have the interview under arrest.

Support – After Charge
Legal Aid

You could be entitled to free legal advice or financial help with legal fees if you have to go to court. This is called legal aid. Once you have left the police station, any legal aid you can get will be based on your income.

You will automatically get legal aid for legal representation in court if you are under 16 (or under 18 and in full-time education) or on certain benefits.

A solicitor can check if you are eligible for legal aid. You will need to give information about the following for both yourself and your partner:

  • benefits – including benefits statements
  • income, savings and spending – including pay slips and bank statements
  • National Insurance numbers

You will also need copies of evidence relating to your case, such as court documents and relevant letters.

Citizens Advice Bureau

Your local Citizens Advice Bureau may be able to support you in finding legal advice or helping you with what actions you need to take. They can also advise you of what will happen at court, although they will not give legal advice themselves.

The Citizens Advice Bureau can also help you find legal support.

Finding Legal Support

You can find a solicitor online at https://solicitors.lawsociety.org.uk/ or you can phone the Law Society on 020 7320 5650.

You can find a barrister online at www.directaccessportal.co.uk.

At Court

When you get to court staff can help you with questions about the court. But they cannot give you legal advice or talk about your case.

If you cannot speak English very well, or have a disability that makes it hard for you to understand, you should tell the court as soon as possible. They can get you an interpreter, or other support to help you understand. Liaison and Diversion Services can provide support to people with mental health problems or learning difficulties. These will be found within the court building.

If you have not found legal advice before going to court, the duty solicitors might be able to help you in your court appearance.

After Sentence

After a sentence is passed your legal advisor will be able to explain this to you, and the implications of it.

If you are given a sentence to be served in the community, a community order, the National Probation Service will be able to support you in meeting the requirements of this. The National Probation Service can also support you if you are given a custodial sentence.

Support – Before Charge
Rights at Police Station

If taken to the police station, you have the right to:

  • free legal advice
  • be given your rights in writing and in your first language
  • a free interpreter or signer if needed
  • tell someone where you are, commonly known as the right to a phone call
  • see the rules that the police must follow
  • medical help if required

You must be told about your right to free legal advice after you have been arrested and before you are questioned at a police station. If you have asked for legal advice the police cannot question you until you have received this, although there are some rare exceptions to this.

If you require any additional support or wish to exercise any other of your rights listed above, then let the custody sergeant know.

 

U18’s

The police must try to contact your parent, guardian or carer.

They must also find an ‘appropriate adult’ to come to the station to help you and be present during questioning and searching. An appropriate adult will protect your welfare and make sure that you understand the information. An appropriate adult can be:

  • your parent, guardian or carer
  • a social worker
  • another family member or friend aged 18 or over
  • a volunteer aged 18 or over.

 

If asked to attend for interview voluntarily

If asked to attend voluntarily for an interview, you have the same rights and support available to you as if you were arrested. As you haven’t been arrested the police can’t impose bail conditions after the interview so you will be free to leave, unless charged as a result of the interview.

You also do not have to agree to a voluntary interview, but If you don’t agree to go voluntarily the police may consider whether to have the interview under arrest.

Support – After Charge
Legal Aid

You could be entitled to free legal advice or financial help with legal fees if you have to go to court. This is called legal aid. Once you have left the police station, any legal aid you can get will be based on your income.

You will automatically get legal aid for legal representation in court if you are under 16 (or under 18 and in full-time education) or on certain benefits.

A solicitor can check if you are eligible for legal aid. You will need to give information about the following for both yourself and your partner:

  • benefits – including benefits statements
  • income, savings and spending – including pay slips and bank statements
  • National Insurance numbers

You will also need copies of evidence relating to your case, such as court documents and relevant letters.

Citizens Advice Bureau

Your local Citizens Advice Bureau may be able to support you in finding legal advice or helping you with what actions you need to take. They can also advise you of what will happen at court, although they will not give legal advice themselves.

The Citizens Advice Bureau can also help you find legal support.

Finding Legal Support

You can find a solicitor online at https://solicitors.lawsociety.org.uk/ or you can phone the Law Society on 020 7320 5650.

You can find a barrister online at www.directaccessportal.co.uk.

At Court

When you get to court staff can help you with questions about the court. But they cannot give you legal advice or talk about your case.

If you cannot speak English very well, or have a disability that makes it hard for you to understand, you should tell the court as soon as possible. They can get you an interpreter, or other support to help you understand. Liaison and Diversion Services can provide support to people with mental health problems or learning difficulties. These will be found within the court building.

If you have not found legal advice before going to court, the duty solicitors might be able to help you in your court appearance.

After Sentence

After a sentence is passed your legal advisor will be able to explain this to you, and the implications of it.

If you are given a sentence to be served in the community, a community order, the National Probation Service will be able to support you in meeting the requirements of this. The National Probation Service can also support you if you are given a custodial sentence.

Support – Before Charge
Rights at Police Station

If taken to the police station, you have the right to:

  • free legal advice
  • be given your rights in writing and in your first language
  • a free interpreter or signer if needed
  • tell someone where you are, commonly known as the right to a phone call
  • see the rules that the police must follow
  • medical help if required

You must be told about your right to free legal advice after you have been arrested and before you are questioned at a police station. If you have asked for legal advice the police cannot question you until you have received this, although there are some rare exceptions to this.

If you require any additional support or wish to exercise any other of your rights listed above, then let the custody sergeant know.

 

If asked to attend for interview voluntarily

If asked to attend voluntarily for an interview, you have the same rights and support available to you as if you were arrested. As you haven’t been arrested the police can’t impose bail conditions after the interview so you will be free to leave, unless charged as a result of the interview.

You also do not have to agree to a voluntary interview, but If you don’t agree to go voluntarily the police may consider whether to have the interview under arrest.

Support – After Charge
Legal Aid

You could be entitled to free legal advice or financial help with legal fees if you have to go to court. This is called legal aid. Once you have left the police station, any legal aid you can get will be based on your income.

You will automatically get legal aid for legal representation in court if you are under 16 (or under 18 and in full-time education) or on certain benefits.

A solicitor can check if you are eligible for legal aid. You will need to give information about the following for both yourself and your partner:

  • benefits – including benefits statements
  • income, savings and spending – including pay slips and bank statements
  • National Insurance numbers

You will also need copies of evidence relating to your case, such as court documents and relevant letters.

Citizens Advice Bureau

Your local Citizens Advice Bureau may be able to support you in finding legal advice or helping you with what actions you need to take. They can also advise you of what will happen at court, although they will not give legal advice themselves.

The Citizens Advice Bureau can also help you find legal support.

Finding Legal Support

You can find a solicitor online at https://solicitors.lawsociety.org.uk/ or you can phone the Law Society on 020 7320 5650.

You can find a barrister online at www.directaccessportal.co.uk.

At Court

When you get to court staff can help you with questions about the court. But they cannot give you legal advice or talk about your case.

If you cannot speak English very well, or have a disability that makes it hard for you to understand, you should tell the court as soon as possible. They can get you an interpreter, or other support to help you understand. Liaison and Diversion Services can provide support to people with mental health problems or learning difficulties. These will be found within the court building.

If you have not found legal advice before going to court, the duty solicitors might be able to help you in your court appearance.

After Sentence

After a sentence is passed your legal advisor will be able to explain this to you, and the implications of it.

If you are given a sentence to be served in the community, a community order, the National Probation Service will be able to support you in meeting the requirements of this. The National Probation Service can also support you if you are given a custodial sentence.

Decision – What is No Further Action? (NFA)

If the police record “no further action”, this means that they are not pursuing any criminal investigation; your case has been dropped and you are free to go. However, this does not mean that you are now found not guilty of a criminal offence. You have not been formally acquitted. This means that it may still appear that you have been arrested under background checks.

Circumstances that your case can be brought up again:

If additional or new evidence is discovered, police may reconsider their decision and continue their criminal investigation.

Decision – Good Year Indication

Before you decide whether to plead guilty to an offence, you are allowed to ask the Court to give you an indication of the maximum sentence that they would pass if you were to plead guilty. This is known as a Goodyear indication. 

In order to ask for a Goodyear indication, the defence will write to the Court asking for the indication. The Court will then list the matter for a hearing. 

At the hearing the defence will ask the Court to give the indication. A Judge doesn’t have to give an indication when requested. 

If the Judge agrees then the prosecution will outline the factual basis of the offence and the sentencing guidelines, together with any aggravating factors. The defence cannot mitigate.

The Court cannot be specific – they can only tell you whether the sentence would be custodial or non-custodial, meaning a prison sentence or one to be carried out in the community. If it is to be custodial, the Court will tell you the maximum sentence. 

Once the Goodyear indication is given it will only last for a reasonable length of time. The Defendant will then have to decide whether to plead guilty and accept the sentence or stick with the not guilty plea. 

Decision – Charged

What does being charged mean?

If you have been charged with a crime, this means that the government have formally accused you of committing a crime. You will only be charged with a criminal offence if there is sufficient evidence.  This means that a formal allegation (a statement which is not yet proven) of an offence is made against you. It is important to know that at this stage you are innocent until proven guilty.

What happens when you have been charged?

When you have been charged, you will be given a ‘charge sheet’ which will set out the details of the crime you have been charged with. There will then be guidance given as to where you will be located following the charge until the court hearing (if necessary).

You can either be:

  • Held in police custody until your hearing
  • Released on conditional bail
  • Released on unconditional bail save for attending court

At your court hearing you will be asked to plead guilty or not guilty to your charge.

Charges relating to minor offences

If you have been charged with a minor offence, you may encounter the ‘single justice procedure’. This procedure makes a decision going forward without sending your case to court.

The ‘single justice procedure’ has a 21 days response time. It is important to note that these rules differ in Scotland and Northern Ireland.

Decision – Bailed

What is bail?

Being released on bail means you will be able to go home but certain conditions may be attached to your bail. The police can impose bail before you have been charged with an offence (pre-charge bail) and after you have been charged until your initial court hearing (post-charge bail). At the initial court hearing, the court can grant you bail until your trial (court bail).

Police bail

When the police do not have sufficient evidence to charge you after being detained, there is a presumption that you will not be released on bail but instead, released under investigation (sometimes referred to as RUI). If you are released under investigation it means that you are released from custody without the obligation to return to the police station at a certain date. However, the police will continue to investigate the allegation and may contact you at any point or even arrest you in some cases if they need you to return to the police station for questioning. Alternatively, the police will impose bail (pre-charge bail):

  • For an initial period of up to 28 days where they think it is necessary and proportionate in the circumstances and it is authorised by an officer of at least inspector rank.
  • A senior officer of superintendent rank or above can authorise an additional extension of up to 3 months to the initial period.
  • Any further extensions must be approved by a magistrates’ court.

When you have been charged with an offence, the police may either keep you in custody until your first court hearing or release on you on bail (post-charge bail). You are unlikely to be given post-charge bail where the police think that:

  • The name or address you provided to the police is not your real name or address.
  • You will not appear at the court hearing to answer to bail.
  • You will commit an offence whilst on bail.
  • You will interfere with the investigation of the offence.
  • Detention is necessary for your protection.

Court bail

On each occasion you are brought to the court you have a general right to bail which is subject to exceptions. If you are not given bail, you will be remanded by the court. You are unlikely to be given bail by the court if:

  • You have been charged with a serious offence.
  • The court thinks you will commit an offence or cause injury to someone whilst on bail.
  • You have previously breached terms of bail.
  • You have been convicted of a serious offence in the past.
  • The court thinks you will not attend you court hearing.

Bail conditions

When you are released on bail you can be granted it unconditionally or conditionally. Unconditional bail means that no conditions will be attached to your bail except for the requirement to appear at the police station at a later date (pre-charge bail) or your court hearing at a later date (post-charge and court bail). Conditional bail means that you will have to agree to conditions when you are released on bail. These conditions will be set out on your bail sheet and will be tailored to the specific circumstances for which bail is being granted.  The conditions may include:

  • Not to contact certain people.
  • Surrendering passport or travel documents to the police.
  • Living at a particular address (the police cannot impose the condition for you to reside at a bail hostel).
  • Electronic monitoring (only the court can impose this condition).
  • Restrictions from entering certain areas.
  • Having to report to a police station at agreed times.

Breach of bail

If the police have reasonable grounds for believing you have breached the pre-charge bail conditions, they can arrest and keep you in custody. Once in detention, the custody officer will have to determine whether you can be charged if they have authorisation to do so. The authorisation can be sought whilst you are detained. If the custody officer has not been given authorisation, he or she must release you without charge, either on bail or without bail. If you are released on bail, you will be subject to the same bail conditions that applied immediately before you were arrested for the breach.

With regard to post-charge bail and court bail, you can be arrested by the police if they have reasonable grounds that you have broken or are likely to break bail conditions. Once arrested, you will be brought before the magistrates’ court as soon as practicable and the court must make a decision on your breach within 24 hours of your arrest. The court may decide to remand you in custody, grant you bail subject to the same conditions or different conditions if they think that:

  • You are not likely to surrender to custody;
  • You have broken bail conditions; or
  • You are likely to breach bail conditions.
Decision – What is No Further Action? (NFA)

If the police record “no further action”, this means that they are not pursuing any criminal investigation; your case has been dropped and you are free to go. However, this does not mean that you are now found not guilty of a criminal offence. You have not been formally acquitted. This means that it may still appear that you have been arrested under background checks.

Circumstances that your case can be brought up again: If additional or new evidence is discovered, police may reconsider their decision and continue their criminal investigation.

Decision – Good Year Indication

Before you decide whether to plead guilty to an offence, you are allowed to ask the Court to give you an indication of the maximum sentence that they would pass if you were to plead guilty. This is known as a Goodyear indication. 

In order to ask for a Goodyear indication, the defence will write to the Court asking for the indication. The Court will then list the matter for a hearing. 

At the hearing the defence will ask the Court to give the indication. A Judge doesn’t have to give an indication when requested. 

If the Judge agrees then the prosecution will outline the factual basis of the offence and the sentencing guidelines, together with any aggravating factors. The defence cannot mitigate.

The Court cannot be specific – they can only tell you whether the sentence would be custodial or non-custodial, meaning a prison sentence or one to be carried out in the community. If it is to be custodial, the Court will tell you the maximum sentence. 

Once the Goodyear indication is given it will only last for a reasonable length of time. The Defendant will then have to decide whether to plead guilty and accept the sentence or stick with the not guilty plea. 

Decision – Charged

What does being charged mean?

If you have been charged with a crime, this means that the government have formally accused you of committing a crime. You will only be charged with a criminal offence if there is sufficient evidence.  This means that a formal allegation (a statement which is not yet proven) of an offence is made against you. It is important to know that at this stage you are innocent until proven guilty.  

What happens when you have been charged?

When you have been charged, you will be given a ‘charge sheet’ which will set out the details of the crime you have been charged with. There will then be guidance given as to where you will be located following the charge until the court hearing (if necessary).

You can either be:

  • Held in police custody until your hearing
  • Released on conditional bail
  • Released on unconditional bail save for attending court

At your court hearing you will be asked to plead guilty or not guilty to your charge.

Charges relating to minor offences

If you have been charged with a minor offence, you may encounter the ‘single justice procedure’. This procedure makes a decision going forward without sending your case to court.

The ‘single justice procedure’ has a 21 days response time.

It is important to note that these rules differ in Scotland and Northern Ireland.

Charges relating to young people

The conditions of these charges can differ compared to charges relating to adults. There are special procedures in place for children.

 Young people under 18 who plead guilty or are convicted of a charge will be dealt with by the Youth Justice System. For more serious cases, it may be referred to the Crown Court. If you have been charged with a minor offence, your case may be dealt with outside the court system either through the Police Youth Diversion Scheme or through a Diversionary Conference.

How a young person’s charge differs from that of an adult:

If you are between the age of 10-17 and charged with a crime, your identity will not be disclosed outside of a courtroom. There are reporting restrictions which means your identity, name, address or school etc. will not be revealed so you have anonymity throughout proceedings.

Decision – Bailed

What is bail?

Being released on bail means you will be able to go home but certain conditions may be attached to your bail. The police can impose bail before you have been charged with an offence (pre-charge bail) and after you have been charged until your initial court hearing (post-charge bail). At the initial court hearing, the court can grant you bail until your trial (court bail).

Youth bail

Youth offenders have a presumed right to bail. If you are under 18 years, the police and courts should always consider your welfare and your best interests as a primary factor when deciding a bail application. The youth offending team will provide information, bail support and supervision packages created to help your individual needs. If bail is refused, you will be remanded in a local authority accommodation or where specific conditions are met, you may be remanded in a youth detention accommodation.

Police bail

When the police do not have sufficient evidence to charge you after being detained, there is a presumption that you will not be released on bail but instead, released under investigation (sometimes referred to as RUI). If you are released under investigation it means that you are released from custody without the obligation to return to the police station at a certain date. However, the police will continue to investigate the allegation and may contact you at any point or even arrest you in some cases if they need you to return to the police station for questioning. Alternatively, the police will impose bail (pre-charge bail):

  • For an initial period of up to 28 days where they think it is necessary and proportionate in the circumstances and it is authorised by an officer of at least inspector rank.
  • A senior officer of superintendent rank or above can authorise an additional extension of up to 3 months to the initial period.
  • Any further extensions must be approved by a magistrates’ court.

When you have been charged with an offence, the police may either keep you in custody until your first court hearing or release on you on bail (post-charge bail). You are unlikely to be given post-charge bail where the police think that:

  • The name or address you provided to the police is not your real name or address.
  • You will not appear at the court hearing to answer to bail.
  • You will commit an offence whilst on bail.
  • You will interfere with the investigation of the offence.
  • Detention is necessary for your protection.

Court bail

On each occasion you are brought to the court you have a general right to bail which is subject to exceptions. If you are not given bail, you will be remanded by the court. You are unlikely to be given bail by the court if:

  • You have been charged with a serious offence.
  • The court thinks you will commit an offence or cause injury to someone whilst on bail.
  • You have previously breached terms of bail.
  • You have been convicted of a serious offence in the past.
  • The court thinks you will not attend you court hearing.

Bail conditions

When you are released on bail you can be granted it unconditionally or conditionally. Unconditional bail means that no conditions will be attached to your bail except for the requirement to appear at the police station at a later date (pre-charge bail) or your court hearing at a later date (post-charge and court bail). Conditional bail means that you will have to agree to conditions when you are released on bail. These conditions will be set out on your bail sheet and will be tailored to the specific circumstances for which bail is being granted.  The conditions may include:

  • Not to contact certain people.
  • Surrendering passport or travel documents to the police.
  • Living at a particular address (the police cannot impose the condition for you to reside at a bail hostel).
  • Electronic monitoring (only the court can impose this condition).
  • Restrictions from entering certain areas.
  • Having to report to a police station at agreed times.

Breach of bail

If the police have reasonable grounds for believing you have breached the pre-charge bail conditions, they can arrest and keep you in custody. Once in detention, the custody officer will have to determine whether you can be charged if they have authorisation to do so. The authorisation can be sought whilst you are detained. If the custody officer has not been given authorisation, he or she must release you without charge, either on bail or without bail. If you are released on bail, you will be subject to the same bail conditions that applied immediately before you were arrested for the breach.

With regard to post-charge bail and court bail, you can be arrested by the police if they have reasonable grounds that you have broken or are likely to break bail conditions. Once arrested, you will be brought before the magistrates’ court as soon as practicable and the court must make a decision on your breach within 24 hours of your arrest. The court may decide to remand you in custody, grant you bail subject to the same conditions or different conditions if they think that:

  • You are not likely to surrender to custody;
  • You have broken bail conditions; or
  • You are likely to breach bail conditions.
Decision – What is No Further Action? (NFA)

If the police record “no further action”, this means that they are not pursuing any criminal investigation; your case has been dropped and you are free to go. However, this does not mean that you are now found not guilty of a criminal offence. You have not been formally acquitted. This means that it may still appear that you have been arrested under background checks.

Circumstances that your case can be brought up again

If additional or new evidence is discovered, police may reconsider their decision and continue their criminal investigation.

Decision – Good Year Indication

Before you decide whether to plead guilty to an offence, you are allowed to ask the Court to give you an indication of the maximum sentence that they would pass if you were to plead guilty. This is known as a Goodyear indication. 

In order to ask for a Goodyear indication, the defence will write to the Court asking for the indication. The Court will then list the matter for a hearing. 

At the hearing the defence will ask the Court to give the indication. A Judge doesn’t have to give an indication when requested. 

If the Judge agrees then the prosecution will outline the factual basis of the offence and the sentencing guidelines, together with any aggravating factors. The defence cannot mitigate.

The Court cannot be specific – they can only tell you whether the sentence would be custodial or non-custodial, meaning a prison sentence or one to be carried out in the community. If it is to be custodial, the Court will tell you the maximum sentence. 

Once the Goodyear indication is given it will only last for a reasonable length of time. The Defendant will then have to decide whether to plead guilty and accept the sentence or stick with the not guilty plea. 

Decision – Charged

What does being charged mean?

If you have been charged with a crime, this means that the government have formally accused you of committing a crime. You will only be charged with a criminal offence if there is sufficient evidence.  This means that a formal allegation (a statement which is not yet proven) of an offence is made against you. It is important to know that at this stage you are innocent until proven guilty.

What happens when you have been charged?

When you have been charged, you will be given a ‘charge sheet’ which will set out the details of the crime you have been charged with. There will then be guidance given as to where you will be located following the charge until the court hearing (if necessary).

You can either be:

  • Held in police custody until your hearing
  • Released on conditional bail
  • Released on unconditional bail save for attending court

At your court hearing you will be asked to plead guilty or not guilty to your charge.

Charges relating to minor offences

If you have been charged with a minor offence, you may encounter the ‘single justice procedure’. This procedure makes a decision going forward without sending your case to court.

The ‘single justice procedure’ has a 21 days response time.

It is important to note that these rules differ in Scotland and Northern Ireland.

Decision – Bailed

What is bail?

Being released on bail means you will be able to go home but certain conditions may be attached to your bail. The police can impose bail before you have been charged with an offence (pre-charge bail) and after you have been charged until your initial court hearing (post-charge bail). At the initial court hearing, the court can grant you bail until your trial (court bail).

Police bail

When the police do not have sufficient evidence to charge you after being detained, there is a presumption that you will not be released on bail but instead, released under investigation (sometimes referred to as RUI). If you are released under investigation it means that you are released from custody without the obligation to return to the police station at a certain date. However, the police will continue to investigate the allegation and may contact you at any point or even arrest you in some cases if they need you to return to the police station for questioning. Alternatively, the police will impose bail (pre-charge bail):

  • For an initial period of up to 28 days where they think it is necessary and proportionate in the circumstances and it is authorised by an officer of at least inspector rank.
  • A senior officer of superintendent rank or above can authorise an additional extension of up to 3 months to the initial period.
  • Any further extensions must be approved by a magistrates’ court.

When you have been charged with an offence, the police may either keep you in custody until your first court hearing or release on you on bail (post-charge bail). You are unlikely to be given post-charge bail where the police think that:

  • The name or address you provided to the police is not your real name or address.
  • You will not appear at the court hearing to answer to bail.
  • You will commit an offence whilst on bail.
  • You will interfere with the investigation of the offence.
  • Detention is necessary for your protection.

Court bail

On each occasion you are brought to the court you have a general right to bail which is subject to exceptions. If you are not given bail, you will be remanded by the court. You are unlikely to be given bail by the court if:

  • You have been charged with a serious offence.
  • The court thinks you will commit an offence or cause injury to someone whilst on bail.
  • You have previously breached terms of bail.
  • You have been convicted of a serious offence in the past.
  • The court thinks you will not attend you court hearing.

Bail conditions

When you are released on bail you can be granted it unconditionally or conditionally. Unconditional bail means that no conditions will be attached to your bail except for the requirement to appear at the police station at a later date (pre-charge bail) or your court hearing at a later date (post-charge and court bail). Conditional bail means that you will have to agree to conditions when you are released on bail. These conditions will be set out on your bail sheet and will be tailored to the specific circumstances for which bail is being granted.  The conditions may include:

  • Not to contact certain people.
  • Surrendering passport or travel documents to the police.
  • Living at a particular address (the police cannot impose the condition for you to reside at a bail hostel).
  • Electronic monitoring (only the court can impose this condition).
  • Restrictions from entering certain areas.
  • Having to report to a police station at agreed times.

Breach of bail

If the police have reasonable grounds for believing you have breached the pre-charge bail conditions, they can arrest and keep you in custody. Once in detention, the custody officer will have to determine whether you can be charged if they have authorisation to do so. The authorisation can be sought whilst you are detained. If the custody officer has not been given authorisation, he or she must release you without charge, either on bail or without bail. If you are released on bail, you will be subject to the same bail conditions that applied immediately before you were arrested for the breach.

With regard to post-charge bail and court bail, you can be arrested by the police if they have reasonable grounds that you have broken or are likely to break bail conditions. Once arrested, you will be brought before the magistrates’ court as soon as practicable and the court must make a decision on your breach within 24 hours of your arrest. The court may decide to remand you in custody, grant you bail subject to the same conditions or different conditions if they think that:

  • You are not likely to surrender to custody;
  • You have broken bail conditions; or

You are likely to breach bail conditions.

Decision – Bailed

What is bail?

Being released on bail means you will be able to go home but certain conditions may be attached to your bail. The police can impose bail before you have been charged with an offence (pre-charge bail) and after you have been charged until your initial court hearing (post-charge bail). At the initial court hearing, the court can grant you bail until your trial (court bail).

Police bail

When the police do not have sufficient evidence to charge you after being detained, there is a presumption that you will not be released on bail but instead, released under investigation (sometimes referred to as RUI). If you are released under investigation it means that you are released from custody without the obligation to return to the police station at a certain date. However, the police will continue to investigate the allegation and may contact you at any point or even arrest you in some cases if they need you to return to the police station for questioning. Alternatively, the police will impose bail (pre-charge bail):

  • For an initial period of up to 28 days where they think it is necessary and proportionate in the circumstances and it is authorised by an officer of at least inspector rank.
  • A senior officer of superintendent rank or above can authorise an additional extension of up to 3 months to the initial period.
  • Any further extensions must be approved by a magistrates’ court.

When you have been charged with an offence, the police may either keep you in custody until your first court hearing or release on you on bail (post-charge bail). You are unlikely to be given post-charge bail where the police think that:

  • The name or address you provided to the police is not your real name or address.
  • You will not appear at the court hearing to answer to bail.
  • You will commit an offence whilst on bail.
  • You will interfere with the investigation of the offence.
  • Detention is necessary for your protection.

Court bail

On each occasion you are brought to the court you have a general right to bail which is subject to exceptions. If you are not given bail, you will be remanded by the court. You are unlikely to be given bail by the court if:

  • You have been charged with a serious offence.
  • The court thinks you will commit an offence or cause injury to someone whilst on bail.
  • You have previously breached terms of bail.
  • You have been convicted of a serious offence in the past.
  • The court thinks you will not attend you court hearing.

Bail conditions

When you are released on bail you can be granted it unconditionally or conditionally. Unconditional bail means that no conditions will be attached to your bail except for the requirement to appear at the police station at a later date (pre-charge bail) or your court hearing at a later date (post-charge and court bail). Conditional bail means that you will have to agree to conditions when you are released on bail. These conditions will be set out on your bail sheet and will be tailored to the specific circumstances for which bail is being granted.  The conditions may include:

  • Not to contact certain people.
  • Surrendering passport or travel documents to the police.
  • Living at a particular address (the police cannot impose the condition for you to reside at a bail hostel).
  • Electronic monitoring (only the court can impose this condition).
  • Restrictions from entering certain areas.
  • Having to report to a police station at agreed times.

Breach of bail

If the police have reasonable grounds for believing you have breached the pre-charge bail conditions, they can arrest and keep you in custody. Once in detention, the custody officer will have to determine whether you can be charged if they have authorisation to do so. The authorisation can be sought whilst you are detained. If the custody officer has not been given authorisation, he or she must release you without charge, either on bail or without bail. If you are released on bail, you will be subject to the same bail conditions that applied immediately before you were arrested for the breach.

With regard to post-charge bail and court bail, you can be arrested by the police if they have reasonable grounds that you have broken or are likely to break bail conditions. Once arrested, you will be brought before the magistrates’ court as soon as practicable and the court must make a decision on your breach within 24 hours of your arrest. The court may decide to remand you in custody, grant you bail subject to the same conditions or different conditions if they think that:

  • You are not likely to surrender to custody;
  • You have broken bail conditions; or

You are likely to breach bail conditions.

Bail & Remand – Definitions

Bail – Where a person is released by the Police, Magistrates’ Court or Crown Court after being charged with an offence and is allowed to go home whilst awaiting his trial.

However, in some cases, conditions may be imposed upon a person’s bail.

Remand – Where a person is placed into custody (e.g. a prison or detention centre) once he has been charged with an offence. The person will remain in custody until the hearing at the Magistrates’ court. At the hearing, the Magistrates may decide that the person shall remain in custody until his trial date or may be granted bail (which may be subject to conditions) until his trial date.

Bail & Remand – General right to bail and exclusions

Generally, everyone has a right to bail but this general right will not apply where a person is charged with Murder, Manslaughter, a Serious Sexual Offence or is a Class A Drug User (if any of these charges apply, bail will only be granted if there are exceptional circumstances to justify it).

There may be other situations where bail is unlikely to be granted. For example, if someone is charged with a serious crime not listed above (i.e. armed robbery), if they have past convictions for serious crimes, if they have previously been given bail but breached the conditions or if the police have reason to believe that the person may commit a crime whilst on bail or will not turn up for their hearing.

Bail & Remand – Unconditional Bail

Bail can be given unconditionally (without conditions). This means that there are no rules attached to it and the person given bail does not need to comply with any specific requirements.

Alternatively, a person may be given conditional bail which means they will need to follow certain rules (See relevant section below for more information).

Bail & Remand – Conditional Bail

If someone is given conditional bail, they may need to follow certain rules, for example:

–        Reporting to the Police station at regular agreed times. 

–        Not driving whilst on bail 

–        Not contacting certain people 

–        Notifying the prosecutor of the address that they staying at 

–        Adhering to a curfew (this may be checked by electronic monitoring)

–        Agreeing to electronic monitoring with a GPS Location tracker

–        Making a payment 

–        Surrendering a document or item

–        Giving a security (ie. giving an item such as a passport to the courts or police – this item will be returned to you at the end of your bail).

Bail & Remand – Breach of Bail

Breach of conditions for bail – where a person has broken one or more condition(s) of their bail then there may be consequences.

A police officer has the power to arrest a person if he has reasonable grounds to believe that the person on bail is likely to break one of the bail conditions or if the person has already broken one of these conditions.

Once the person has been arrested, that person must be brought before the Magistrates’ court and be dealt with within 24 hours of the arrest.

Consequently, the Magistrates’ Court may decide to place that person in remand (custody) or may grant him bail, subject to the same or different conditions as before. 

Bail & Remand – Reasons for Remand

A person charged with an offence may be placed in remand if: 

–        They are charged with a serious crime, 

–        If they have been convicted in the past for a serious crime, 

–        If the police believe that the person on bail will not attend the court hearing,

–        If they have previously been given bail but breached the conditions or

–        If the police have reason to believe that they may commit a crime whilst on bail.

Bail & Remand – Rights in Remand

If a person is put on remand before the trial takes place, the individual has not been convicted of the crime but merely placed in custody until the trial. This means that they should not be treated as a prisoner and will have certain rights such as wearing their own clothes, having more frequent visits etc. 

Bail & Remand – Definitions

Bail – Where a person is released by the Police, Magistrates’ Court or Crown Court after being charged with an offence and is allowed to go home whilst awaiting his trial.

However, in some cases, conditions may be imposed upon a person’s bail.

Remand – Where a person is placed into custody once he has been charged with an offence. Individuals under 18 who are placed on remand will be taken to a secure centre for young people and not be placed in an adult prison.  The person will remain in custody until the hearing at the Magistrates’ court. At the hearing, the Magistrates may decide that the person shall remain in custody until his trial date or may be granted bail (which may be subject to conditions) until his trial date.

Bail & Remand – General right to bail and exclusions

Generally, everyone has a right to bail but this general right will not apply where a person is charged with Murder, Manslaughter, a Serious Sexual Offence or is a Class A Drug User (if any of these charges apply, bail will only be granted if there are exceptional circumstances to justify it).

There may be other situations where bail is unlikely to be granted. For example, if someone is charged with a serious crime not listed above (i.e. armed robbery), if they have past convictions for serious crimes, if they have previously been given bail but breached the conditions or if the police have reason to believe that the person may commit a crime whilst on bail or will not turn up for their hearing. 

Bail & Remand – Unconditional Bail

Bail can be given unconditionally (without conditions). This means that there are no rules attached to it and the person given bail does not need to comply with any specific requirements.

Alternatively, a person may be given conditional bail which means they will need to follow certain rules (See relevant section below for more information).

Bail & Remand – Conditional Bail

If someone is given conditional bail, they may need to follow certain rules, for example:

–        Reporting to the Police station at regular agreed times. 

–        Not driving whilst on bail 

–        Not contacting certain people 

–        Notifying the prosecutor of the address that they staying at 

–        Adhering to a curfew (this may be checked by electronic monitoring)

–        Agreeing to electronic monitoring with a GPS Location tracker

–        Making a payment 

–        Surrendering a document or item

–        Giving a security (ie. giving an item such as a passport to the courts or police – this item will be returned to you at the end of your bail).

  • They may also be subject to the condition that they must attend and participate in bail support, bail support and supervision as well as Intensive and Surveillance (ISS) Programme.

Bail conditions for under 18’s:

  • Youths may be subject to similar conditions as adults (see above). They may also be subject to the condition that they must attend and participate in bail support, bail support and supervision as well as Intensive and Surveillance (ISS) Programme.
Bail & Remand – Breach of Bail

Breach of conditions for bail – where a person has broken one or more condition(s) of their bail then there may be consequences.

A police officer has the power to arrest a person if he has reasonable grounds to believe that the person on bail is likely to break one of the bail conditions or if the person has already broken one of these conditions.

Once the person has been arrested, that person must be brought before the Magistrates’ court and be dealt with within 24 hours of the arrest.

Consequently, the Magistrates’ Court may decide to place that person in remand (custody) or may grant him bail, subject to the same or different conditions as before. 

Bail & Remand – Reasons for Remand

A person charged with an offence may be placed in remand if: 

–        They are charged with a serious crime, 

–        If they have been convicted in the past for a serious crime, 

–        If the police believe that the person on bail will not attend the court hearing,

–        If they have previously been given bail but breached the conditions or

–        If the police have reason to believe that they may commit a crime whilst on bail.

Bail & Remand – Rights in Remand

If a person is put on remand before the trial takes place, the individual has not been convicted of the crime but merely placed in custody until the trial. This means that they should not be treated as a prisoner and will have certain rights such as wearing their own clothes, having more frequent visits etc. 

Bail & Remand – Definitions

Bail – Where a person is released by the Police, Magistrates’ Court or Crown Court after being charged with an offence and is allowed to go home whilst awaiting his trial.

However, in some cases, conditions may be imposed upon a person’s bail.

Remand – Where a person is placed into custody (e.g. a prison or detention centre) once he has been charged with an offence. The person will remain in custody until the hearing at the Magistrates’ court. At the hearing, the Magistrates may decide that the person shall remain in custody until his trial date or may be granted bail (which may be subject to conditions) until his trial date.

Bail & Remand – General right to bail and exclusions

Generally, everyone has a right to bail but this general right will not apply where a person is charged with Murder, Manslaughter, a Serious Sexual Offence or is a Class A Drug User (if any of these charges apply, bail will only be granted if there are exceptional circumstances to justify it).

There may be other situations where bail is unlikely to be granted. For example, if someone is charged with a serious crime not listed above (i.e. armed robbery), if they have past convictions for serious crimes, if they have previously been given bail but breached the conditions or if the police have reason to believe that the person may commit a crime whilst on bail or will not turn up for their hearing. 

Bail & Remand – Unconditional Bail

Bail can be given unconditionally (without conditions). This means that there are no rules attached to it and the person given bail does not need to comply with any specific requirements.

Alternatively, a person may be given conditional bail which means they will need to follow certain rules (See relevant section below for more information).

Bail & Remand – Conditional Bail

If someone is given conditional bail, they may need to follow certain rules, for example:

–        Reporting to the Police station at regular agreed times. 

–        Not driving whilst on bail 

–        Not contacting certain people 

–        Notifying the prosecutor of the address that they staying at 

–        Adhering to a curfew (this may be checked by electronic monitoring)

–        Agreeing to electronic monitoring with a GPS Location tracker

–        Making a payment 

–        Surrendering a document or item

–        Giving a security (ie. giving an item such as a passport to the courts or police – this item will be returned to you at the end of your bail).

Bail & Remand – Breach of Bail

Breach of conditions for bail – where a person has broken one or more condition(s) of their bail then there may be consequences.

A police officer has the power to arrest a person if he has reasonable grounds to believe that the person on bail is likely to break one of the bail conditions or if the person has already broken one of these conditions.

Once the person has been arrested, that person must be brought before the Magistrates’ court and be dealt with within 24 hours of the arrest.

Consequently, the Magistrates’ Court may decide to place that person in remand (custody) or may grant him bail, subject to the same or different conditions as before. 

Bail & Remand – Reasons for Remand

A person charged with an offence may be placed in remand if: 

–        They are charged with a serious crime, 

–        If they have been convicted in the past for a serious crime, 

–        If the police believe that the person on bail will not attend the court hearing,

–        If they have previously been given bail but breached the conditions or

–        If the police have reason to believe that they may commit a crime whilst on bail.

Bail & Remand – Rights in Remand

If a person is put on remand before the trial takes place, the individual has not been convicted of the crime but merely placed in custody until the trial. This means that they should not be treated as a prisoner and will have certain rights such as wearing their own clothes, having more frequent visits etc. 

Support – After Charge
Legal Aid

You could be entitled to free legal advice or financial help with legal fees if you have to go to court. This is called legal aid. Once you have left the police station, any legal aid you can get will be based on your income.

You will automatically get legal aid for legal representation in court if you are under 16 (or under 18 and in full-time education) or on certain benefits.

A solicitor can check if you are eligible for legal aid. You will need to give information about the following for both yourself and your partner:

  • benefits – including benefits statements
  • income, savings and spending – including pay slips and bank statements
  • National Insurance numbers

You will also need copies of evidence relating to your case, such as court documents, including the offence you have been charged with, and any relevant letters. 

Citizens Advice Bureau

Your local Citizens Advice Bureau may be able to support you in finding legal advice or helping you with what actions you need to take. They can also advise you of what will happen at court, although they will not give legal advice themselves.

Finding Legal Support

You can find a solicitor online at https://solicitors.lawsociety.org.uk/ or you can phone the Law Society on 020 7320 5650.

You can find a barrister online at www.directaccessportal.co.uk.

At Court

When you get to court staff can help you with questions about the court. But they cannot give you legal advice or talk to you about your case.

If you cannot speak English very well, or have a disability that makes it hard for you to understand or hear, you should tell the court as soon as possible. They can get you an interpreter, or other support to help you understand. Liaison and Diversion Services can provide support to people with mental health problems or learning difficulties. These will be found within the court building. If you are unsure where to find them, you can ask the court usher or clerk.

Support – After Charge
Legal Aid

You could be entitled to free legal advice or financial help with legal fees if you have to go to court. This is called legal aid. Once you have left the police station, any legal aid you can get will be based on your income.

You will automatically get legal aid for legal representation in court if you are under 16 (or under 18 and in full-time education) or on certain benefits.

A solicitor can check if you are eligible for legal aid. You will need to give information about the following for both yourself and your partner:

  • benefits – including benefits statements
  • income, savings and spending – including pay slips and bank statements
  • National Insurance numbers

You will also need copies of evidence relating to your case, such as court documents, including the offence you have been charged with, and any relevant letters. 

Citizens Advice Bureau

Your local Citizens Advice Bureau may be able to support you in finding legal advice or helping you with what actions you need to take. They can also advise you of what will happen at court, although they will not give legal advice themselves.

Finding Legal Support

You can find a solicitor online at https://solicitors.lawsociety.org.uk/ or you can phone the Law Society on 020 7320 5650.

You can find a barrister online at www.directaccessportal.co.uk.

At Court

When you get to court staff can help you with questions about the court. But they cannot give you legal advice or talk to you about your case.

If you cannot speak English very well, or have a disability that makes it hard for you to understand or hear, you should tell the court as soon as possible. They can get you an interpreter, or other support to help you understand. Liaison and Diversion Services can provide support to people with mental health problems or learning difficulties. These will be found within the court building. If you are unsure where to find them, you can ask the court usher or clerk.

Support – After Charge
Legal Aid

You could be entitled to free legal advice or financial help with legal fees if you have to go to court. This is called legal aid. Once you have left the police station, any legal aid you can get will be based on your income.

You will automatically get legal aid for legal representation in court if you are under 16 (or under 18 and in full-time education) or on certain benefits.

A solicitor can check if you are eligible for legal aid. You will need to give information about the following for both yourself and your partner:

  • benefits – including benefits statements
  • income, savings and spending – including pay slips and bank statements
  • National Insurance numbers

You will also need copies of evidence relating to your case, such as court documents, including the offence you have been charged with, and any relevant letters. 

Citizens Advice Bureau

Your local Citizens Advice Bureau may be able to support you in finding legal advice or helping you with what actions you need to take. They can also advise you of what will happen at court, although they will not give legal advice themselves.

Finding Legal Support

You can find a solicitor online at https://solicitors.lawsociety.org.uk/ or you can phone the Law Society on 020 7320 5650.

You can find a barrister online at www.directaccessportal.co.uk.

At Court

When you get to court staff can help you with questions about the court. But they cannot give you legal advice or talk to you about your case.

If you cannot speak English very well, or have a disability that makes it hard for you to understand or hear, you should tell the court as soon as possible. They can get you an interpreter, or other support to help you understand. Liaison and Diversion Services can provide support to people with mental health problems or learning difficulties. These will be found within the court building. If you are unsure where to find them, you can ask the court usher or clerk.

Gathering Evidence – Police Investigation

POLICE INVESTIGATION

Evidence in a case begins with a police investigation.  This is generally initiated by a police coming across a crime in progress or by a report from a member of the public.  Investigations can range in scale and complexity from a simple theft in a shop to a terrorist investigation.  The level of police resource used will depend on the seriousness of what is being investigated.  The shoplifting would be investigated by one police officer and consist of only a few items of simple evidence.  The terrorism investigation would involve a large team of officers and thousands of items of evidence.

Duty of the police

There is an obligation on the police when investigating an alleged crime to “pursue all reasonable lines of enquiry, whether these point towards or away from the suspect”. A failure to do so amounts to a breach of duty.  It will be obvious that what might be a reasonable line of enquiry in a terrorism case – for example a fingertip search and analysis of every surface in a crime scene and seizing CCTV from every camera within a large radius from that scene – would not be reasonable for theft of a cycle from a set of railings.  There may be a known suspect or suspects from the outset of an investigation or one may be discovered during the investigation.  It remains key, whatever the scale of the investigation, that the reasonable lines of enquiry that must be followed will be followed whether they point towards or away from that suspect.  That may mean finding out if an offence did or didn’t take place and, if it did, whether the suspect is the person who committed it or not.

Gathering Evidence – Types of Evidence

There can be many different types of evidence that the police will gather  in a case.  The following are examples:

Witness evidence about facts:

This will be evidence of a person about a fact or facts in the case.  That person is called a witness and for example could be an eye witness to a robbery who explains what they saw, or an owner of something confirming that they owned it and that no one had permission to take it.  The police will take a witness statement from them and that will form part of the case sent to the Crown Prosecution Service and – if a case is then sent to court – to the defence.  The witness statement can be taken anywhere eg at the scene of the crime, in a witnesses’ home or work address or sometimes at a police station.  It can even be taken over the telephone.  The statement must be signed and will include a declaration of truth which says what in it is true.

For children or vulnerable  people or for adult victims of certain types of serious offences (for instance sexual offences) an account will be recorded on video rather than a written statement being taken.

The witness will then give their evidence live in court or have the video of their account played in court.  They will then be cross examined by the defence.  If the defence do not have reason to challenge the evidence then instead of the witness attending court in person, their statement can be read out in court, or facts from it can be added to a list of agreed facts that is then read out to the court.  

Police officers are often themselves witnesses in a case and will need to make their own statements about what they saw, heard or did.

Witness evidence about character:

This will also be evidence of a person but instead of being about the facts of a case it will be about the character of a person involved in the case – usually the defendant.  It can be about the good character of the defendant or bad character of the defendant.

Other evidence about character:

This may be in the form of a list of previous convictions of a defendant or witness.

Interview with the suspect / defendant

In almost all cases other than minor traffic matters the suspect(s) will be interviewed unless they refuse to be.  They will have the right to free and Independent legal advice before and during the interview.  They will be cautioned at the beginning of the interview.  This means they are told : ‘You do not have to say anything, but it may harm your defence if you do not mention, when questioned, something which you later rely on in court.  Anything you do say may be given in evidence.’  

CCTV

There may be some video evidence of either the scene of an incident or an area surrounding the scene.  It may show an offence actually taking place – for instance CCTV in a shop showing a person picking up something and putting it in their pocket.  It may show a person entering or leaving a scene of crime but not actually the offence itself. Quality will vary.  It may be enough to help identify a suspect or it may just form part of showing what happened.

“Forensics”

This is scientific or trace evidence.  It can be DNA or fingerprints of a person left at a scene or on an object.  It could also be an analysis of a blood spatter pattern.

Objects

This could be an object that forms part of a case, for example drugs in a case of drugs supply, or perhaps a weapon that has been used

Documentary evidence

This could be any document that shows something in the case.  It might consist of bank statements, a receipt from a shop or perhaps a written record of people entering a building to give just a few examples.

Communication evidence

This may consist of downloads from a person’s phone.  This may include messages sent and/or received.  It could be a record of calls for a particular phone number and would demonstrate contact between people.  It could be social media communication which may show content of discussions.  It could also be cell site evidence that shows what phone mast a person may have been using which might help show where a person was.  

Expert evidence

Expert witnesses give evidence and opinions to assist on matters of a specialist kind which are not of common knowledge.  Examples might be a drugs expert witness who is able to give evidence about types of drugs, values of drugs and communications relating to drugs supply.  They could be a doctor giving evidence of injuries and interpretation of those injuries.  They could be a financial expert explaining accounting issues in a case of fraud.  

 

Gathering Evidence – Prosecution

The Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) prosecutes criminal cases that have been investigated by the police or other investigative organisations in England and Wales.  The police contact them at the end of an investigation or – for more complex cases – during an investigation.  The CPS advise on further actions for the police.  For minor cases, the police can make the decision whether a case should be taken to court and what the charges should be.  For anything other than minor offences the CPS make this decision.  

The Test 

When all outstanding reasonable lines of inquiry have been pursued the CPS apply what is called a Full Code Test to a case.  This has two stages.  The first is evidential:  is there sufficient evidence to  provide a realistic prospect of conviction against a suspect(s).  When deciding this the CPS will consider if the evidence is admissible, reliable and credible.

Admissible evidence is evidence that can be used in court as part of the case.  If evidence is relevant to the case in that it goes to prove or disprove an issue in the case, then it will usually be admissible.  Even if rules may not have been followed correctly by the police in obtaining the evidence it will still normally be admissible if it is relevant, unless for instance they acted in bad faith or deliberately breached the rules.

Hearsay evidence is not generally admissible.  Hearsay is evidence not given by the witness themselves in court. For instance, if one witness says what someone else told them they saw or heard, then that would be hearsay.  The person who actually heard it or saw it would have to give evidence for it to be admissible.  There are some exceptions – for instance if both Prosecution and Defence agree it should be heard or if the witness who heard or saw it had died or is too ill to give evidence.

Bad character evidence is not generally admissible.  There are exceptions to this too.  The main exception would be where it shows a person has a propensity or tendency to commit a certain type of crime.  

Opinion evidence is not generally admissible unless it is given by an expert evidence in their area of expertise.

The CPS will consider if there are any reasons to question the reliability of evidence including its accuracy or integrity and if there are any reasons to doubt the credibility of the evidence.  For instance, with eye witness evidence – could the witness be mistaken or lying.

The Second Stage of the Full Code Test is the Public Interest Stage – that is, is it in the public interest to prosecute.  

In certain serious cases where there is reason to keep a suspect in custody then the CPS can apply the Threshold Test to charge a suspect instead of waiting for the investigation to be complete and applying the Full Code Test.  For this there must be reasonable grounds to suspect the person to be charged has committed the offence and that further evidence can later be obtained to provide a realistic prospect of conviction.  It must also be in the public interest to charge.

If the test for charging is met (either the Full Code Test or Threshold Test where relevant) then the CPS will authorise a charge for a suspect(s).  At that point they become a defendant.

The CPS will then prepare the case and present it at trial on behalf of the Crown.

 

Gathering Evidence – Defence

In any criminal trial, the prosecution brings the case and it is for the prosecution to prove it.  Except in very limited circumstances the defence do not have to prove anything.  The defence will however challenge the Crown’s case.

A defendant can represent themselves or can have legal representation.  Defence can start as soon as a suspect is identified.  As mentioned above, a suspect is entitled to free and Independent legal advice for their interview.  Once a person is sent to court for an offence, it is their responsibility to identify what the defence case is and what the issues in the case are.  That is, what do they dispute in the Crown’s case.  It may be that an incident did not happen in the way the Crown say it did.  Or it may be that the defendant was not the person who committed the offence and it is a case of mistaken identity.

If there are things that can assist the defence case then the defence team should identify them and bring them to the attention of the Crown and the police.  As stated above, the police have a duty to follow all reasonable lines of enquiry whether they point towards or away from a person.  So, for instance if a defendant has an alibi, the police should investigate this by taking statements from alibi witnesses or by finding CCTV at the alibi location which may show the defendant at the relevant time.  

The defence team will also consider the Crown’s case in much the same way as the CPS did.  They will consider if the evidence in the case is admissible.  Arguments can be made in court about the admissibility of evidence.  Even if evidence is found to be admissible, it can sometimes be excluded if it would adversely affect the fairness of the trial.

The defence will also consider the reliability and credibility of the evidence.  They will test this in court via cross examination of the witnesses.  For instance, can an eye witness be sure the offender was the defendant if they only saw them very briefly, from a distance etc.  The reliability of one witness’ evidence may also  be thrown into doubt by the evidence of another if there are significant differences.  

It can be particularly important  for the defence to point out the relevance of any Communication Evidence.  For instance, if the defence case in a case of sexual assault is that the complainant (the person who says it happened to them) consented to the sexual activity and that they texted the defendant or even a friend about it, then it may be a reasonable line of enquiry for the police to download the complainant’s phone and check that download for anything that supports the defence case.

The Director of Public Prosecutions has given guidance on this:

“The examination of mobile devices belonging to the complainant is not a requirement as a matter of course in every case. There will be cases where there is no requirement for the police to take the media devices of a complainant or others at all, and thus no requirement for even a level 1 examination to be undertaken. Examples of this would include sexual offences committed opportunistically against strangers, or historic allegations where there is considered to be no prospect that the complainant’s phone will retain any material relevant to the period in which the conduct is said to have occurred and/or the complainant through age or other circumstances did not have access to a phone at that time…”

It can be seen from this that if there is likely to be anything relevant to the case – including if it might support the defence case, then it should be examined and downloaded.

 

Gathering Evidence – Police Investigation

POLICE INVESTIGATION

Evidence in a case begins with a police investigation.  This is generally initiated by a police coming across a crime in progress or by a report from a member of the public.  Investigations can range in scale and complexity from a simple theft in a shop to a terrorist investigation.  The level of police resource used will depend on the seriousness of what is being investigated.  The shoplifting would be investigated by one police officer and consist of only a few items of simple evidence.  The terrorism investigation would involve a large team of officers and thousands of items of evidence.

Duty of the police

There is an obligation on the police when investigating an alleged crime to “pursue all reasonable lines of enquiry, whether these point towards or away from the suspect”. A failure to do so amounts to a breach of duty.  It will be obvious that what might be a reasonable line of enquiry in a terrorism case – for example a fingertip search and analysis of every surface in a crime scene and seizing CCTV from every camera within a large radius from that scene – would not be reasonable for theft of a cycle from a set of railings.  There may be a known suspect or suspects from the outset of an investigation or one may be discovered during the investigation.  It remains key, whatever the scale of the investigation, that the reasonable lines of enquiry that must be followed will be followed whether they point towards or away from that suspect.  That may mean finding out if an offence did or didn’t take place and, if it did, whether the suspect is the person who committed it or not.

Gathering Evidence – Types of Evidence

There can be many different types of evidence that the police will gather  in a case.  The following are examples:

Witness evidence about facts:

This will be evidence of a person about a fact or facts in the case.  That person is called a witness and for example could be an eye witness to a robbery who explains what they saw, or an owner of something confirming that they owned it and that no one had permission to take it.  The police will take a witness statement from them and that will form part of the case sent to the Crown Prosecution Service and – if a case is then sent to court – to the defence.  The witness statement can be taken anywhere eg at the scene of the crime, in a witnesses’ home or work address or sometimes at a police station.  It can even be taken over the telephone.  The statement must be signed and will include a declaration of truth which says what in it is true.

For children or vulnerable  people or for adult victims of certain types of serious offences (for instance sexual offences) an account will be recorded on video rather than a written statement being taken.

The witness will then give their evidence live in court or have the video of their account played in court.  They will then be cross examined by the defence.  If the defence do not have reason to challenge the evidence then instead of the witness attending court in person, their statement can be read out in court, or facts from it can be added to a list of agreed facts that is then read out to the court.  

Police officers are often themselves witnesses in a case and will need to make their own statements about what they saw, heard or did.

Witness evidence about character:

This will also be evidence of a person but instead of being about the facts of a case it will be about the character of a person involved in the case – usually the defendant.  It can be about the good character of the defendant or bad character of the defendant.

Other evidence about character:

This may be in the form of a list of previous convictions of a defendant or witness.

Interview with the suspect / defendant

In almost all cases other than minor traffic matters the suspect(s) will be interviewed unless they refuse to be.  They will have the right to free and Independent legal advice before and during the interview.  They will be cautioned at the beginning of the interview.  This means they are told : ‘You do not have to say anything, but it may harm your defence if you do not mention, when questioned, something which you later rely on in court.  Anything you do say may be given in evidence.’  

CCTV

There may be some video evidence of either the scene of an incident or an area surrounding the scene.  It may show an offence actually taking place – for instance CCTV in a shop showing a person picking up something and putting it in their pocket.  It may show a person entering or leaving a scene of crime but not actually the offence itself. Quality will vary.  It may be enough to help identify a suspect or it may just form part of showing what happened.

“Forensics”

This is scientific or trace evidence.  It can be DNA or fingerprints of a person left at a scene or on an object.  It could also be an analysis of a blood spatter pattern.

Objects

This could be an object that forms part of a case, for example drugs in a case of drugs supply, or perhaps a weapon that has been used

Documentary evidence

This could be any document that shows something in the case.  It might consist of bank statements, a receipt from a shop or perhaps a written record of people entering a building to give just a few examples.

Communication evidence

This may consist of downloads from a person’s phone.  This may include messages sent and/or received.  It could be a record of calls for a particular phone number and would demonstrate contact between people.  It could be social media communication which may show content of discussions.  It could also be cell site evidence that shows what phone mast a person may have been using which might help show where a person was.  

Expert evidence

Expert witnesses give evidence and opinions to assist on matters of a specialist kind which are not of common knowledge.  Examples might be a drugs expert witness who is able to give evidence about types of drugs, values of drugs and communications relating to drugs supply.  They could be a doctor giving evidence of injuries and interpretation of those injuries.  They could be a financial expert explaining accounting issues in a case of fraud.  

 

Gathering Evidence – Prosecution

The Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) prosecutes criminal cases that have been investigated by the police or other investigative organisations in England and Wales.  The police contact them at the end of an investigation or – for more complex cases – during an investigation.  The CPS advise on further actions for the police.  For minor cases, the police can make the decision whether a case should be taken to court and what the charges should be.  For anything other than minor offences the CPS make this decision.  

The Test 

When all outstanding reasonable lines of inquiry have been pursued the CPS apply what is called a Full Code Test to a case.  This has two stages.  The first is evidential:  is there sufficient evidence to  provide a realistic prospect of conviction against a suspect(s).  When deciding this the CPS will consider if the evidence is admissible, reliable and credible.

Admissible evidence is evidence that can be used in court as part of the case.  If evidence is relevant to the case in that it goes to prove or disprove an issue in the case, then it will usually be admissible.  Even if rules may not have been followed correctly by the police in obtaining the evidence it will still normally be admissible if it is relevant, unless for instance they acted in bad faith or deliberately breached the rules.

Hearsay evidence is not generally admissible.  Hearsay is evidence not given by the witness themselves in court. For instance, if one witness says what someone else told them they saw or heard, then that would be hearsay.  The person who actually heard it or saw it would have to give evidence for it to be admissible.  There are some exceptions – for instance if both Prosecution and Defence agree it should be heard or if the witness who heard or saw it had died or is too ill to give evidence.

Bad character evidence is not generally admissible.  There are exceptions to this too.  The main exception would be where it shows a person has a propensity or tendency to commit a certain type of crime.  

Opinion evidence is not generally admissible unless it is given by an expert evidence in their area of expertise.

The CPS will consider if there are any reasons to question the reliability of evidence including its accuracy or integrity and if there are any reasons to doubt the credibility of the evidence.  For instance, with eye witness evidence – could the witness be mistaken or lying.

The Second Stage of the Full Code Test is the Public Interest Stage – that is, is it in the public interest to prosecute.  

In certain serious cases where there is reason to keep a suspect in custody then the CPS can apply the Threshold Test to charge a suspect instead of waiting for the investigation to be complete and applying the Full Code Test.  For this there must be reasonable grounds to suspect the person to be charged has committed the offence and that further evidence can later be obtained to provide a realistic prospect of conviction.  It must also be in the public interest to charge.

If the test for charging is met (either the Full Code Test or Threshold Test where relevant) then the CPS will authorise a charge for a suspect(s).  At that point they become a defendant.

The CPS will then prepare the case and present it at trial on behalf of the Crown.

 

Gathering Evidence – Defence

In any criminal trial, the prosecution brings the case and it is for the prosecution to prove it.  Except in very limited circumstances the defence do not have to prove anything.  The defence will however challenge the Crown’s case.

A defendant can represent themselves or can have legal representation.  Defence can start as soon as a suspect is identified.  As mentioned above, a suspect is entitled to free and Independent legal advice for their interview.  Once a person is sent to court for an offence, it is their responsibility to identify what the defence case is and what the issues in the case are.  That is, what do they dispute in the Crown’s case.  It may be that an incident did not happen in the way the Crown say it did.  Or it may be that the defendant was not the person who committed the offence and it is a case of mistaken identity.

If there are things that can assist the defence case then the defence team should identify them and bring them to the attention of the Crown and the police.  As stated above, the police have a duty to follow all reasonable lines of enquiry whether they point towards or away from a person.  So, for instance if a defendant has an alibi, the police should investigate this by taking statements from alibi witnesses or by finding CCTV at the alibi location which may show the defendant at the relevant time.  

The defence team will also consider the Crown’s case in much the same way as the CPS did.  They will consider if the evidence in the case is admissible.  Arguments can be made in court about the admissibility of evidence.  Even if evidence is found to be admissible, it can sometimes be excluded if it would adversely affect the fairness of the trial.

The defence will also consider the reliability and credibility of the evidence.  They will test this in court via cross examination of the witnesses.  For instance, can an eye witness be sure the offender was the defendant if they only saw them very briefly, from a distance etc.  The reliability of one witness’ evidence may also  be thrown into doubt by the evidence of another if there are significant differences.  

It can be particularly important  for the defence to point out the relevance of any Communication Evidence.  For instance, if the defence case in a case of sexual assault is that the complainant (the person who says it happened to them) consented to the sexual activity and that they texted the defendant or even a friend about it, then it may be a reasonable line of enquiry for the police to download the complainant’s phone and check that download for anything that supports the defence case.

The Director of Public Prosecutions has given guidance on this:

“The examination of mobile devices belonging to the complainant is not a requirement as a matter of course in every case. There will be cases where there is no requirement for the police to take the media devices of a complainant or others at all, and thus no requirement for even a level 1 examination to be undertaken. Examples of this would include sexual offences committed opportunistically against strangers, or historic allegations where there is considered to be no prospect that the complainant’s phone will retain any material relevant to the period in which the conduct is said to have occurred and/or the complainant through age or other circumstances did not have access to a phone at that time…”

It can be seen from this that if there is likely to be anything relevant to the case – including if it might support the defence case, then it should be examined and downloaded.

 

Gathering Evidence – Police Investigation

POLICE INVESTIGATION

Evidence in a case begins with a police investigation.  This is generally initiated by a police coming across a crime in progress or by a report from a member of the public.  Investigations can range in scale and complexity from a simple theft in a shop to a terrorist investigation.  The level of police resource used will depend on the seriousness of what is being investigated.  The shoplifting would be investigated by one police officer and consist of only a few items of simple evidence.  The terrorism investigation would involve a large team of officers and thousands of items of evidence.

Duty of the police

There is an obligation on the police when investigating an alleged crime to “pursue all reasonable lines of enquiry, whether these point towards or away from the suspect”. A failure to do so amounts to a breach of duty.  It will be obvious that what might be a reasonable line of enquiry in a terrorism case – for example a fingertip search and analysis of every surface in a crime scene and seizing CCTV from every camera within a large radius from that scene – would not be reasonable for theft of a cycle from a set of railings.  There may be a known suspect or suspects from the outset of an investigation or one may be discovered during the investigation.  It remains key, whatever the scale of the investigation, that the reasonable lines of enquiry that must be followed will be followed whether they point towards or away from that suspect.  That may mean finding out if an offence did or didn’t take place and, if it did, whether the suspect is the person who committed it or not.

Gathering Evidence – Types of Evidence

There can be many different types of evidence that the police will gather  in a case.  The following are examples:

Witness evidence about facts:

This will be evidence of a person about a fact or facts in the case.  That person is called a witness and for example could be an eye witness to a robbery who explains what they saw, or an owner of something confirming that they owned it and that no one had permission to take it.  The police will take a witness statement from them and that will form part of the case sent to the Crown Prosecution Service and – if a case is then sent to court – to the defence.  The witness statement can be taken anywhere eg at the scene of the crime, in a witnesses’ home or work address or sometimes at a police station.  It can even be taken over the telephone.  The statement must be signed and will include a declaration of truth which says what in it is true.

For children or vulnerable  people or for adult victims of certain types of serious offences (for instance sexual offences) an account will be recorded on video rather than a written statement being taken.

The witness will then give their evidence live in court or have the video of their account played in court.  They will then be cross examined by the defence.  If the defence do not have reason to challenge the evidence then instead of the witness attending court in person, their statement can be read out in court, or facts from it can be added to a list of agreed facts that is then read out to the court.  

Police officers are often themselves witnesses in a case and will need to make their own statements about what they saw, heard or did.

Witness evidence about character:

This will also be evidence of a person but instead of being about the facts of a case it will be about the character of a person involved in the case – usually the defendant.  It can be about the good character of the defendant or bad character of the defendant.

Other evidence about character:

This may be in the form of a list of previous convictions of a defendant or witness.

Interview with the suspect / defendant

In almost all cases other than minor traffic matters the suspect(s) will be interviewed unless they refuse to be.  They will have the right to free and Independent legal advice before and during the interview.  They will be cautioned at the beginning of the interview.  This means they are told : ‘You do not have to say anything, but it may harm your defence if you do not mention, when questioned, something which you later rely on in court.  Anything you do say may be given in evidence.’  

CCTV

There may be some video evidence of either the scene of an incident or an area surrounding the scene.  It may show an offence actually taking place – for instance CCTV in a shop showing a person picking up something and putting it in their pocket.  It may show a person entering or leaving a scene of crime but not actually the offence itself. Quality will vary.  It may be enough to help identify a suspect or it may just form part of showing what happened.

“Forensics”

This is scientific or trace evidence.  It can be DNA or fingerprints of a person left at a scene or on an object.  It could also be an analysis of a blood spatter pattern.

Objects

This could be an object that forms part of a case, for example drugs in a case of drugs supply, or perhaps a weapon that has been used

Documentary evidence

This could be any document that shows something in the case.  It might consist of bank statements, a receipt from a shop or perhaps a written record of people entering a building to give just a few examples.

Communication evidence

This may consist of downloads from a person’s phone.  This may include messages sent and/or received.  It could be a record of calls for a particular phone number and would demonstrate contact between people.  It could be social media communication which may show content of discussions.  It could also be cell site evidence that shows what phone mast a person may have been using which might help show where a person was.  

Expert evidence

Expert witnesses give evidence and opinions to assist on matters of a specialist kind which are not of common knowledge.  Examples might be a drugs expert witness who is able to give evidence about types of drugs, values of drugs and communications relating to drugs supply.  They could be a doctor giving evidence of injuries and interpretation of those injuries.  They could be a financial expert explaining accounting issues in a case of fraud.  

 

Gathering Evidence – Prosecution

The Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) prosecutes criminal cases that have been investigated by the police or other investigative organisations in England and Wales.  The police contact them at the end of an investigation or – for more complex cases – during an investigation.  The CPS advise on further actions for the police.  For minor cases, the police can make the decision whether a case should be taken to court and what the charges should be.  For anything other than minor offences the CPS make this decision.  

The Test 

When all outstanding reasonable lines of inquiry have been pursued the CPS apply what is called a Full Code Test to a case.  This has two stages.  The first is evidential:  is there sufficient evidence to  provide a realistic prospect of conviction against a suspect(s).  When deciding this the CPS will consider if the evidence is admissible, reliable and credible.

Admissible evidence is evidence that can be used in court as part of the case.  If evidence is relevant to the case in that it goes to prove or disprove an issue in the case, then it will usually be admissible.  Even if rules may not have been followed correctly by the police in obtaining the evidence it will still normally be admissible if it is relevant, unless for instance they acted in bad faith or deliberately breached the rules.

Hearsay evidence is not generally admissible.  Hearsay is evidence not given by the witness themselves in court. For instance, if one witness says what someone else told them they saw or heard, then that would be hearsay.  The person who actually heard it or saw it would have to give evidence for it to be admissible.  There are some exceptions – for instance if both Prosecution and Defence agree it should be heard or if the witness who heard or saw it had died or is too ill to give evidence.

Bad character evidence is not generally admissible.  There are exceptions to this too.  The main exception would be where it shows a person has a propensity or tendency to commit a certain type of crime.  

Opinion evidence is not generally admissible unless it is given by an expert evidence in their area of expertise.

The CPS will consider if there are any reasons to question the reliability of evidence including its accuracy or integrity and if there are any reasons to doubt the credibility of the evidence.  For instance, with eye witness evidence – could the witness be mistaken or lying.

The Second Stage of the Full Code Test is the Public Interest Stage – that is, is it in the public interest to prosecute.  

In certain serious cases where there is reason to keep a suspect in custody then the CPS can apply the Threshold Test to charge a suspect instead of waiting for the investigation to be complete and applying the Full Code Test.  For this there must be reasonable grounds to suspect the person to be charged has committed the offence and that further evidence can later be obtained to provide a realistic prospect of conviction.  It must also be in the public interest to charge.

If the test for charging is met (either the Full Code Test or Threshold Test where relevant) then the CPS will authorise a charge for a suspect(s).  At that point they become a defendant.

The CPS will then prepare the case and present it at trial on behalf of the Crown.

 

Gathering Evidence – Defence

In any criminal trial, the prosecution brings the case and it is for the prosecution to prove it.  Except in very limited circumstances the defence do not have to prove anything.  The defence will however challenge the Crown’s case.

A defendant can represent themselves or can have legal representation.  Defence can start as soon as a suspect is identified.  As mentioned above, a suspect is entitled to free and Independent legal advice for their interview.  Once a person is sent to court for an offence, it is their responsibility to identify what the defence case is and what the issues in the case are.  That is, what do they dispute in the Crown’s case.  It may be that an incident did not happen in the way the Crown say it did.  Or it may be that the defendant was not the person who committed the offence and it is a case of mistaken identity.

If there are things that can assist the defence case then the defence team should identify them and bring them to the attention of the Crown and the police.  As stated above, the police have a duty to follow all reasonable lines of enquiry whether they point towards or away from a person.  So, for instance if a defendant has an alibi, the police should investigate this by taking statements from alibi witnesses or by finding CCTV at the alibi location which may show the defendant at the relevant time.  

The defence team will also consider the Crown’s case in much the same way as the CPS did.  They will consider if the evidence in the case is admissible.  Arguments can be made in court about the admissibility of evidence.  Even if evidence is found to be admissible, it can sometimes be excluded if it would adversely affect the fairness of the trial.

The defence will also consider the reliability and credibility of the evidence.  They will test this in court via cross examination of the witnesses.  For instance, can an eye witness be sure the offender was the defendant if they only saw them very briefly, from a distance etc.  The reliability of one witness’ evidence may also  be thrown into doubt by the evidence of another if there are significant differences.  

It can be particularly important  for the defence to point out the relevance of any Communication Evidence.  For instance, if the defence case in a case of sexual assault is that the complainant (the person who says it happened to them) consented to the sexual activity and that they texted the defendant or even a friend about it, then it may be a reasonable line of enquiry for the police to download the complainant’s phone and check that download for anything that supports the defence case.

The Director of Public Prosecutions has given guidance on this:

“The examination of mobile devices belonging to the complainant is not a requirement as a matter of course in every case. There will be cases where there is no requirement for the police to take the media devices of a complainant or others at all, and thus no requirement for even a level 1 examination to be undertaken. Examples of this would include sexual offences committed opportunistically against strangers, or historic allegations where there is considered to be no prospect that the complainant’s phone will retain any material relevant to the period in which the conduct is said to have occurred and/or the complainant through age or other circumstances did not have access to a phone at that time…”

It can be seen from this that if there is likely to be anything relevant to the case – including if it might support the defence case, then it should be examined and downloaded.

 

Disclosure – Process
Process

The disclosure process provides the defence with copies or access to all material capable of undermining the prosecution case and/or assisting the defence. As this process is vital to ensure a fair trial, strict rules guide the process. Investigators, the police, defence and prosecution teams and the courts all play significant roles in ensuring the process is carried out correctly and promptly. 

The legislation governing disclosure is the Criminal Procedure and Investigations Act 1996 (CPIA). The legislation sets out the scheme of disclosure:

Disclosure – Crown Court
Obligations

Before a trial in the Crown Court, both parties are obliged to disclose to each other information concerning the case. The prosecution and defence have different responsibilities regarding what they must do at various stages of the process. In general, the prosecution MUST disclose to an accused the case it relies on at trial and material relating to the case which the prosecution does not intend to use (unused material). The defence MUST disclose the essence of the defence on which they intend to rely in court.  The purpose of this is to limit the opportunity for defendants to raise unfair “ambush defences” during the trial.  Defence disclosure of the nature of the accused’s defence does not, however, extend to a requirement to plead every detail of the defendant’s proof of evidence.

Who is involved?

When an allegation is made against someone, the police will investigate that allegation. There are various people involved in the process. Each person involved has a different role and particular responsibilities.

Roles:

The Criminal Procedure and Investigations Act 1996 (CPIA) sets out the individual functions of people involved in an investigation. There are four key roles:

(1) The investigator – the police officer involved in the conduct of a criminal investigation. They carry out the investigation.

(2) The disclosure officer – the police officer responsible for examining material found by the police during the investigation and for revealing the information to the prosecutor.

(3) The officer in charge of the investigation (OIC) – the police officer responsible for directing a criminal investigation and maintaining standards of practice. 

(4) The Prosecutor – the person or organisation responsible for conducting the prosecution. In this country, generally this will be the CPS.

In simple cases, the functions of investigator, disclosure officer and OiC will frequently be carried out by the same detective or police officer. A more complex case will often require several people. 

The investigator should pursue all reasonable lines of inquiry, whether these point towards or away from the suspect.  A handy way to understand this concept is to remember that the police are there to discover the truth, not to prosecute the accused.  In general, the court does not seek to discover the truth but to answer the question “does the evidence make me sure the defendant is guilty as charged?”

The investigator has a duty to keep materials which may be relevant to the investigation. They also must record the relevant materials in a format that is secure and clear.

Responsibilities

The Disclosure Officer MUST view all relevant material that the investigator keeps, and they must also declare that they have done so to maintain continuity and standards.

The Attorney-General (A-G) gives the guidelines on what is required of the Disclosure Officer when examining the material. It also highlights the fact that detailed examinations of every item of relevant material would be impossible. 

Time Limits

For a trial sent to the Crown Court the prosecution MUST serve copies of the documents containing the evidence on which the charges are based no later than:

  • 70 days after the date of sending for trial, or
  • 50 days after the date of sending for trial where Defendant is committed to custody when sent for trial.

Practically speaking, when the case is sent from the magistrates’ court to the Crown Court, and the defendant is NOT REMANDED IN CUSTODY (i.e given bail and not going to prison to await trial) the prosecution must serve the copies within 70 days after that date. If the Defendant IS REMANDED IN CUSTODY then it is within 50 days of that date.

Extending Time Limits

From the beginning of the case the prosecution must keep its disclosure obligations under review.  The complexity and weight of the case as well as the resources available to the prosecution are relevant factors in assessing the proportionality of the disclosure exercise. If more time is required, the prosecution should seek agreement with the defence concerning a suitable time extension. If agreed, the court will usually extend the time. 

If the defence does not agree, the prosecutor can go to court and seek an extension from the judge.  This can be done within the original time limit or retrospectively. The prosecution should ensure that full information is available for the court (and that reasonable information on this point is provided to the defence) as to the time extension including the reason(s) it is required and how long it will take to rectify the irregularity.

Format

The format of the evidence is set out in the criminal procedure rules. The document should be paginated with a tabulated index to each bundle. It should be easy to follow and understand.

Disclosure – Magistrates Court
Who is involved?

When an allegation is made against someone, the police will investigate that allegation. There are various people involved in the process. Each person involved has a different role and particular responsibilities.

Roles:

The Criminal Procedure and Investigations Act 1996 (CPIA) sets out the individual functions of people involved in an investigation. There are four key roles:

(1) The investigator – the police officer involved in the conduct of a criminal investigation. They carry out the investigation.

(2) The disclosure officer – the police officer responsible for examining material found by the police during the investigation and for revealing the information to the prosecutor.

(3) The officer in charge of the investigation (OIC) – the police officer responsible for directing a criminal investigation and maintaining standards of practice. 

(4) The Prosecutor – the person or organisation responsible for conducting the prosecution. In this country, generally this will be the CPS.

In simple cases, the functions of investigator, disclosure officer and OiC will frequently be carried out by the same detective or police officer. A more complex case will often require several people. 

The investigator should pursue all reasonable lines of inquiry, whether these point towards or away from the suspect.  A handy way to understand this concept is to remember that the police are there to discover the truth, not to prosecute the accused.  In general, the court does not seek to discover the truth but to answer the question “does the evidence make me sure the defendant is guilty as charged?”

The investigator has a duty to keep materials which may be relevant to the investigation. They also must record the relevant materials in a format that is secure and clear.

Responsibilities

The Disclosure Officer MUST view all relevant material that the investigator keeps, and they must also declare that they have done so to maintain continuity and standards.

The Attorney-General (A-G) gives the guidelines on what is required of the Disclosure Officer when examining the material. It also highlights the fact that detailed examinations of every item of relevant material would be impossible. 

Summary Trials

Summary trials are heard in the magistrates’ court.

Initial Details of the Prosecution Case

In the magistrates’ court, the prosecution MUST supply the defence with IDPC. This gives the defendant advance information concerning the prosecution case, and the content of it differs depending on whether the defendant is in custody or not at the time of the first appearance. 

If they are in custody, the prosecution need only provide:

  • A summary of the circumstances of the offence; and
  • The defendant’s criminal record, if any.

                   If the defendant is not in custody, the prosecution is required to provide:

  • A summary of the circumstances of the offence; and
  • The defendant’s criminal record, if any;
  • Any account given by the defendant in interview (or a summary of it);
  • Any witness statements or exhibits that the prosecutor has available and considers material to the plea, or allocation of the case for trial, or sentence;
  • Any available statement of the effect of the offence on a victim, a victim’s family or others.

The IDPC must be made available to the defendant (usually through their representatives) as soon as practicable, and in any event no later than the day of the first appearance. IDPC is an essential document. It allows the defendant and the court to take an informed view on the plea, the trial venue (if applicable), for case management or sentencing (if applicable).

Disclosure of Prosecution Case

Suppose there is a not guilty plea at the first hearing and the issue is adjourned for a trial in the magistrates’ court.  If the IDPC does not contain all the evidence which the prosecution will be relying on, the court will give a direction for the prosecution to serve the further evidence they are relying on.  Frequently this will include material such as CCTV, text messages, further witness statements, etc. 

Initial Duty of Disclosure

Once the defendant has pleaded not guilty, the prosecution is under a duty to disclose any prosecution material that has not previously been disclosed to the defendant and which might reasonably be considered capable of undermining the prosecution case or assisting the case for the defendant. If there is no material fitting this description, a written statement is given to the defendant stating as such. In simple terms, the prosecution will hand over material that ‘harms’ their case or ‘helps’ the defendant’s case.

The prosecution will do this by providing a cover letter and a schedule of unused material. The schedule will indicate whether items appear to the prosecution to be disclosable or not. If items are disclosable, then they will typically be provided with the schedule.

Defence Disclosure

Defence statements – In the magistrates’ court, there is no requirement to provide a defence statement as the defendant will indicate their defence on the Preparation for Effective Trial form. However, the defendant may still choose to provide a defence statement. The primary benefit of doing so in the magistrates’ court is to trigger further disclosure from the prosecution. 

Suppose the defendant chooses to provide a defence statement. In that case, they must provide copies of the document to the prosecution within 14 days of the prosecution complying or purporting to comply with their initial duty of disclosure. 

Defence witnesses – If the defendant is relying on witnesses and intends to call them at trial, they must indicate this to the court and prosecution. They must provide any witnesses’ details 14 days after the prosecution comply with, or purporting to comply with, their initial duty of disclosure. 

Defence witnesses, Alibi – If a defence statement is provided and an alibi is raised, it MUST contain the name, address and date of birth of the alibi witness. 

Secondary Disclosure

Secondary Disclosure

The prosecution is always under a continuing duty to disclose material which meets the statutory test summarised above at sub-para (c). They must always keep under review whether they have complied with their duty. 

This is especially important if a defence statement is provided, the prosecution MUST comply with the duty as soon as reasonably practicable after the defence statement is submitted. 

Applications for Disclosure

An application for disclosure can be made where a defence statement has been served if the defendant has reasonable cause to believe the prosecution has not disclosed part of its case.  The defence may apply to the court for material that should have been disclosed but was not.  A special procedure for doing so known as a “section 8 application” may only be pursued in the magistrates’ court if a defence statement has been served. 

 

Disclosure – Section 8 Procedures

Once a defence statement has been served, a defendant may apply to the court for an order that the prosecution disclose information to them if he/she thinks that disclosure has been inadequate. 

Disclosure – Public Interest Immunity

Although the right to a fair trial is predicated on the principle of equality of arms, the disclosure of material is limited by Public Interest Immunity. The court can allow the prosecution to withhold relevant information from the defence if it decides it is in the public interest to do so.  This is generally limited to material of a highly sensitive nature and is not considered lightly by the courts.  In circumstances where Public Interest Immunity arises in a case, the defendant and the CPS will probably both receive detailed advice from counsel as this is a complex area of law.

Disclosure – Process
Process

The disclosure process provides the defence with copies or access to all material capable of undermining the prosecution case and/or assisting the defence. As this process is vital to ensure a fair trial, strict rules guide the process. Investigators, the police, defence and prosecution teams and the courts all play significant roles in ensuring the process is carried out correctly and promptly. 

The legislation governing disclosure is the Criminal Procedure and Investigations Act 1996 (CPIA). The legislation sets out the scheme of disclosure:

Disclosure – Crown Court
Obligations

Before a trial in the Crown Court, both parties are obliged to disclose to each other information concerning the case. The prosecution and defence have different responsibilities regarding what they must do at various stages of the process. In general, the prosecution MUST disclose to an accused the case it relies on at trial and material relating to the case which the prosecution does not intend to use (unused material). The defence MUST disclose the essence of the defence on which they intend to rely in court.  The purpose of this is to limit the opportunity for defendants to raise unfair “ambush defences” during the trial.  Defence disclosure of the nature of the accused’s defence does not, however, extend to a requirement to plead every detail of the defendant’s proof of evidence.

Who is involved?

When an allegation is made against someone, the police will investigate that allegation. There are various people involved in the process. Each person involved has a different role and particular responsibilities.

Roles:

The Criminal Procedure and Investigations Act 1996 (CPIA) sets out the individual functions of people involved in an investigation. There are four key roles:

(1) The investigator – the police officer involved in the conduct of a criminal investigation. They carry out the investigation.

(2) The disclosure officer – the police officer responsible for examining material found by the police during the investigation and for revealing the information to the prosecutor.

(3) The officer in charge of the investigation (OIC) – the police officer responsible for directing a criminal investigation and maintaining standards of practice. 

(4) The Prosecutor – the person or organisation responsible for conducting the prosecution. In this country, generally this will be the CPS.

In simple cases, the functions of investigator, disclosure officer and OiC will frequently be carried out by the same detective or police officer. A more complex case will often require several people. 

The investigator should pursue all reasonable lines of inquiry, whether these point towards or away from the suspect.  A handy way to understand this concept is to remember that the police are there to discover the truth, not to prosecute the accused.  In general, the court does not seek to discover the truth but to answer the question “does the evidence make me sure the defendant is guilty as charged?”

The investigator has a duty to keep materials which may be relevant to the investigation. They also must record the relevant materials in a format that is secure and clear.

Responsibilities

The Disclosure Officer MUST view all relevant material that the investigator keeps, and they must also declare that they have done so to maintain continuity and standards.

The Attorney-General (A-G) gives the guidelines on what is required of the Disclosure Officer when examining the material. It also highlights the fact that detailed examinations of every item of relevant material would be impossible. 

Time Limits

For a trial sent to the Crown Court the prosecution MUST serve copies of the documents containing the evidence on which the charges are based no later than:

  • 70 days after the date of sending for trial, or
  • 50 days after the date of sending for trial where Defendant is committed to custody when sent for trial.

Practically speaking, when the case is sent from the magistrates’ court to the Crown Court, and the defendant is NOT REMANDED IN CUSTODY (i.e given bail and not going to prison to await trial) the prosecution must serve the copies within 70 days after that date. If the Defendant IS REMANDED IN CUSTODY then it is within 50 days of that date.

Extending Time Limits

From the beginning of the case the prosecution must keep its disclosure obligations under review.  The complexity and weight of the case as well as the resources available to the prosecution are relevant factors in assessing the proportionality of the disclosure exercise. If more time is required, the prosecution should seek agreement with the defence concerning a suitable time extension. If agreed, the court will usually extend the time. 

If the defence does not agree, the prosecutor can go to court and seek an extension from the judge.  This can be done within the original time limit or retrospectively. The prosecution should ensure that full information is available for the court (and that reasonable information on this point is provided to the defence) as to the time extension including the reason(s) it is required and how long it will take to rectify the irregularity.

Format

The format of the evidence is set out in the criminal procedure rules. The document should be paginated with a tabulated index to each bundle. It should be easy to follow and understand.

Disclosure – Magistrates Court
Who is involved?

When an allegation is made against someone, the police will investigate that allegation. There are various people involved in the process. Each person involved has a different role and particular responsibilities.

Roles:

The Criminal Procedure and Investigations Act 1996 (CPIA) sets out the individual functions of people involved in an investigation. There are four key roles:

(1) The investigator – the police officer involved in the conduct of a criminal investigation. They carry out the investigation.

(2) The disclosure officer – the police officer responsible for examining material found by the police during the investigation and for revealing the information to the prosecutor.

(3) The officer in charge of the investigation (OIC) – the police officer responsible for directing a criminal investigation and maintaining standards of practice. 

(4) The Prosecutor – the person or organisation responsible for conducting the prosecution. In this country, generally this will be the CPS.

In simple cases, the functions of investigator, disclosure officer and OiC will frequently be carried out by the same detective or police officer. A more complex case will often require several people. 

The investigator should pursue all reasonable lines of inquiry, whether these point towards or away from the suspect.  A handy way to understand this concept is to remember that the police are there to discover the truth, not to prosecute the accused.  In general, the court does not seek to discover the truth but to answer the question “does the evidence make me sure the defendant is guilty as charged?”

The investigator has a duty to keep materials which may be relevant to the investigation. They also must record the relevant materials in a format that is secure and clear.

Responsibilities

The Disclosure Officer MUST view all relevant material that the investigator keeps, and they must also declare that they have done so to maintain continuity and standards.

The Attorney-General (A-G) gives the guidelines on what is required of the Disclosure Officer when examining the material. It also highlights the fact that detailed examinations of every item of relevant material would be impossible. 

Summary Trials

Summary trials are heard in the magistrates’ court.

Initial Details of the Prosecution Case

In the magistrates’ court, the prosecution MUST supply the defence with IDPC. This gives the defendant advance information concerning the prosecution case, and the content of it differs depending on whether the defendant is in custody or not at the time of the first appearance. 

If they are in custody, the prosecution need only provide:

  • A summary of the circumstances of the offence; and
  • The defendant’s criminal record, if any.

                   If the defendant is not in custody, the prosecution is required to provide:

  • A summary of the circumstances of the offence; and
  • The defendant’s criminal record, if any;
  • Any account given by the defendant in interview (or a summary of it);
  • Any witness statements or exhibits that the prosecutor has available and considers material to the plea, or allocation of the case for trial, or sentence;
  • Any available statement of the effect of the offence on a victim, a victim’s family or others.

The IDPC must be made available to the defendant (usually through their representatives) as soon as practicable, and in any event no later than the day of the first appearance. IDPC is an essential document. It allows the defendant and the court to take an informed view on the plea, the trial venue (if applicable), for case management or sentencing (if applicable).

Disclosure of Prosecution Case

Suppose there is a not guilty plea at the first hearing and the issue is adjourned for a trial in the magistrates’ court.  If the IDPC does not contain all the evidence which the prosecution will be relying on, the court will give a direction for the prosecution to serve the further evidence they are relying on.  Frequently this will include material such as CCTV, text messages, further witness statements, etc. 

Initial Duty of Disclosure

Once the defendant has pleaded not guilty, the prosecution is under a duty to disclose any prosecution material that has not previously been disclosed to the defendant and which might reasonably be considered capable of undermining the prosecution case or assisting the case for the defendant. If there is no material fitting this description, a written statement is given to the defendant stating as such. In simple terms, the prosecution will hand over material that ‘harms’ their case or ‘helps’ the defendant’s case.

The prosecution will do this by providing a cover letter and a schedule of unused material. The schedule will indicate whether items appear to the prosecution to be disclosable or not. If items are disclosable, then they will typically be provided with the schedule.

Defence Disclosure

Defence statements – In the magistrates’ court, there is no requirement to provide a defence statement as the defendant will indicate their defence on the Preparation for Effective Trial form. However, the defendant may still choose to provide a defence statement. The primary benefit of doing so in the magistrates’ court is to trigger further disclosure from the prosecution. 

Suppose the defendant chooses to provide a defence statement. In that case, they must provide copies of the document to the prosecution within 14 days of the prosecution complying or purporting to comply with their initial duty of disclosure. 

Defence witnesses – If the defendant is relying on witnesses and intends to call them at trial, they must indicate this to the court and prosecution. They must provide any witnesses’ details 14 days after the prosecution comply with, or purporting to comply with, their initial duty of disclosure. 

Defence witnesses, Alibi – If a defence statement is provided and an alibi is raised, it MUST contain the name, address and date of birth of the alibi witness. 

Secondary Disclosure

Secondary Disclosure

The prosecution is always under a continuing duty to disclose material which meets the statutory test summarised above at sub-para (c). They must always keep under review whether they have complied with their duty. 

This is especially important if a defence statement is provided, the prosecution MUST comply with the duty as soon as reasonably practicable after the defence statement is submitted. 

Applications for Disclosure

An application for disclosure can be made where a defence statement has been served if the defendant has reasonable cause to believe the prosecution has not disclosed part of its case.  The defence may apply to the court for material that should have been disclosed but was not.  A special procedure for doing so known as a “section 8 application” may only be pursued in the magistrates’ court if a defence statement has been served. 

 

Disclosure – Section 8 Procedures

Once a defence statement has been served, a defendant may apply to the court for an order that the prosecution disclose information to them if he/she thinks that disclosure has been inadequate. 

Disclosure – Public Interest Immunity

Although the right to a fair trial is predicated on the principle of equality of arms, the disclosure of material is limited by Public Interest Immunity. The court can allow the prosecution to withhold relevant information from the defence if it decides it is in the public interest to do so.  This is generally limited to material of a highly sensitive nature and is not considered lightly by the courts.  In circumstances where Public Interest Immunity arises in a case, the defendant and the CPS will probably both receive detailed advice from counsel as this is a complex area of law.

Disclosure – Process
Process

The disclosure process provides the defence with copies or access to all material capable of undermining the prosecution case and/or assisting the defence. As this process is vital to ensure a fair trial, strict rules guide the process. Investigators, the police, defence and prosecution teams and the courts all play significant roles in ensuring the process is carried out correctly and promptly. 

The legislation governing disclosure is the Criminal Procedure and Investigations Act 1996 (CPIA). The legislation sets out the scheme of disclosure:

Disclosure – Crown Court
Obligations

Before a trial in the Crown Court, both parties are obliged to disclose to each other information concerning the case. The prosecution and defence have different responsibilities regarding what they must do at various stages of the process. In general, the prosecution MUST disclose to an accused the case it relies on at trial and material relating to the case which the prosecution does not intend to use (unused material). The defence MUST disclose the essence of the defence on which they intend to rely in court.  The purpose of this is to limit the opportunity for defendants to raise unfair “ambush defences” during the trial.  Defence disclosure of the nature of the accused’s defence does not, however, extend to a requirement to plead every detail of the defendant’s proof of evidence.

Who is involved?

When an allegation is made against someone, the police will investigate that allegation. There are various people involved in the process. Each person involved has a different role and particular responsibilities.

Roles:

The Criminal Procedure and Investigations Act 1996 (CPIA) sets out the individual functions of people involved in an investigation. There are four key roles:

(1) The investigator – the police officer involved in the conduct of a criminal investigation. They carry out the investigation.

(2) The disclosure officer – the police officer responsible for examining material found by the police during the investigation and for revealing the information to the prosecutor.

(3) The officer in charge of the investigation (OIC) – the police officer responsible for directing a criminal investigation and maintaining standards of practice. 

(4) The Prosecutor – the person or organisation responsible for conducting the prosecution. In this country, generally this will be the CPS.

In simple cases, the functions of investigator, disclosure officer and OiC will frequently be carried out by the same detective or police officer. A more complex case will often require several people. 

The investigator should pursue all reasonable lines of inquiry, whether these point towards or away from the suspect.  A handy way to understand this concept is to remember that the police are there to discover the truth, not to prosecute the accused.  In general, the court does not seek to discover the truth but to answer the question “does the evidence make me sure the defendant is guilty as charged?”

The investigator has a duty to keep materials which may be relevant to the investigation. They also must record the relevant materials in a format that is secure and clear.

Responsibilities

The Disclosure Officer MUST view all relevant material that the investigator keeps, and they must also declare that they have done so to maintain continuity and standards.

The Attorney-General (A-G) gives the guidelines on what is required of the Disclosure Officer when examining the material. It also highlights the fact that detailed examinations of every item of relevant material would be impossible. 

Time Limits

For a trial sent to the Crown Court the prosecution MUST serve copies of the documents containing the evidence on which the charges are based no later than:

  • 70 days after the date of sending for trial, or
  • 50 days after the date of sending for trial where Defendant is committed to custody when sent for trial.

Practically speaking, when the case is sent from the magistrates’ court to the Crown Court, and the defendant is NOT REMANDED IN CUSTODY (i.e given bail and not going to prison to await trial) the prosecution must serve the copies within 70 days after that date. If the Defendant IS REMANDED IN CUSTODY then it is within 50 days of that date.

Extending Time Limits

From the beginning of the case the prosecution must keep its disclosure obligations under review.  The complexity and weight of the case as well as the resources available to the prosecution are relevant factors in assessing the proportionality of the disclosure exercise. If more time is required, the prosecution should seek agreement with the defence concerning a suitable time extension. If agreed, the court will usually extend the time. 

If the defence does not agree, the prosecutor can go to court and seek an extension from the judge.  This can be done within the original time limit or retrospectively. The prosecution should ensure that full information is available for the court (and that reasonable information on this point is provided to the defence) as to the time extension including the reason(s) it is required and how long it will take to rectify the irregularity.

Format

The format of the evidence is set out in the criminal procedure rules. The document should be paginated with a tabulated index to each bundle. It should be easy to follow and understand.

Disclosure – Magistrates Court
Who is involved?

When an allegation is made against someone, the police will investigate that allegation. There are various people involved in the process. Each person involved has a different role and particular responsibilities.

Roles:

The Criminal Procedure and Investigations Act 1996 (CPIA) sets out the individual functions of people involved in an investigation. There are four key roles:

(1) The investigator – the police officer involved in the conduct of a criminal investigation. They carry out the investigation.

(2) The disclosure officer – the police officer responsible for examining material found by the police during the investigation and for revealing the information to the prosecutor.

(3) The officer in charge of the investigation (OIC) – the police officer responsible for directing a criminal investigation and maintaining standards of practice. 

(4) The Prosecutor – the person or organisation responsible for conducting the prosecution. In this country, generally this will be the CPS.

In simple cases, the functions of investigator, disclosure officer and OiC will frequently be carried out by the same detective or police officer. A more complex case will often require several people. 

The investigator should pursue all reasonable lines of inquiry, whether these point towards or away from the suspect.  A handy way to understand this concept is to remember that the police are there to discover the truth, not to prosecute the accused.  In general, the court does not seek to discover the truth but to answer the question “does the evidence make me sure the defendant is guilty as charged?”

The investigator has a duty to keep materials which may be relevant to the investigation. They also must record the relevant materials in a format that is secure and clear.

Responsibilities

The Disclosure Officer MUST view all relevant material that the investigator keeps, and they must also declare that they have done so to maintain continuity and standards.

The Attorney-General (A-G) gives the guidelines on what is required of the Disclosure Officer when examining the material. It also highlights the fact that detailed examinations of every item of relevant material would be impossible. 

Summary Trials

Summary trials are heard in the magistrates’ court.

Initial Details of the Prosecution Case

In the magistrates’ court, the prosecution MUST supply the defence with IDPC. This gives the defendant advance information concerning the prosecution case, and the content of it differs depending on whether the defendant is in custody or not at the time of the first appearance. 

If they are in custody, the prosecution need only provide:

  • A summary of the circumstances of the offence; and
  • The defendant’s criminal record, if any.

                   If the defendant is not in custody, the prosecution is required to provide:

  • A summary of the circumstances of the offence; and
  • The defendant’s criminal record, if any;
  • Any account given by the defendant in interview (or a summary of it);
  • Any witness statements or exhibits that the prosecutor has available and considers material to the plea, or allocation of the case for trial, or sentence;
  • Any available statement of the effect of the offence on a victim, a victim’s family or others.

The IDPC must be made available to the defendant (usually through their representatives) as soon as practicable, and in any event no later than the day of the first appearance. IDPC is an essential document. It allows the defendant and the court to take an informed view on the plea, the trial venue (if applicable), for case management or sentencing (if applicable).

Disclosure of Prosecution Case

Suppose there is a not guilty plea at the first hearing and the issue is adjourned for a trial in the magistrates’ court.  If the IDPC does not contain all the evidence which the prosecution will be relying on, the court will give a direction for the prosecution to serve the further evidence they are relying on.  Frequently this will include material such as CCTV, text messages, further witness statements, etc. 

Initial Duty of Disclosure

Once the defendant has pleaded not guilty, the prosecution is under a duty to disclose any prosecution material that has not previously been disclosed to the defendant and which might reasonably be considered capable of undermining the prosecution case or assisting the case for the defendant. If there is no material fitting this description, a written statement is given to the defendant stating as such. In simple terms, the prosecution will hand over material that ‘harms’ their case or ‘helps’ the defendant’s case.

The prosecution will do this by providing a cover letter and a schedule of unused material. The schedule will indicate whether items appear to the prosecution to be disclosable or not. If items are disclosable, then they will typically be provided with the schedule.

Defence Disclosure

Defence statements – In the magistrates’ court, there is no requirement to provide a defence statement as the defendant will indicate their defence on the Preparation for Effective Trial form. However, the defendant may still choose to provide a defence statement. The primary benefit of doing so in the magistrates’ court is to trigger further disclosure from the prosecution. 

Suppose the defendant chooses to provide a defence statement. In that case, they must provide copies of the document to the prosecution within 14 days of the prosecution complying or purporting to comply with their initial duty of disclosure. 

Defence witnesses – If the defendant is relying on witnesses and intends to call them at trial, they must indicate this to the court and prosecution. They must provide any witnesses’ details 14 days after the prosecution comply with, or purporting to comply with, their initial duty of disclosure. 

Defence witnesses, Alibi – If a defence statement is provided and an alibi is raised, it MUST contain the name, address and date of birth of the alibi witness. 

Secondary Disclosure

Secondary Disclosure

The prosecution is always under a continuing duty to disclose material which meets the statutory test summarised above at sub-para (c). They must always keep under review whether they have complied with their duty. 

This is especially important if a defence statement is provided, the prosecution MUST comply with the duty as soon as reasonably practicable after the defence statement is submitted. 

Applications for Disclosure

An application for disclosure can be made where a defence statement has been served if the defendant has reasonable cause to believe the prosecution has not disclosed part of its case.  The defence may apply to the court for material that should have been disclosed but was not.  A special procedure for doing so known as a “section 8 application” may only be pursued in the magistrates’ court if a defence statement has been served. 

 

Disclosure – Section 8 Procedures

Once a defence statement has been served, a defendant may apply to the court for an order that the prosecution disclose information to them if he/she thinks that disclosure has been inadequate. 

Disclosure – Public Interest Immunity

Although the right to a fair trial is predicated on the principle of equality of arms, the disclosure of material is limited by Public Interest Immunity. The court can allow the prosecution to withhold relevant information from the defence if it decides it is in the public interest to do so.  This is generally limited to material of a highly sensitive nature and is not considered lightly by the courts.  In circumstances where Public Interest Immunity arises in a case, the defendant and the CPS will probably both receive detailed advice from counsel as this is a complex area of law.

Plea Trial – What happens at a plea trial at the Magistrate’s Court

What happens in a plea hearing at the Magistrate’s Court?

Plea hearings at the Magistrate’s Court will be different depending on the type of crime you are charged with. 

If your case can only be heard at the Magistrate’s Court (summary offence) then once in court the prosecution representative will introduce themselves and your defence representatives to the court. The legal adviser for the court will ask you to confirm some details about yourself such as your name, address, date of birth and nationality, and will then read out your offences. They will ask if you want to plead guilty or not guilty and you will then state whether you plead guilty or not guilty. You can plead differently to each individual offence.

If your case can be heard at the Magistrate’s Court or Crown Court (either-way offence) then you will have a ‘plea before venue’ hearing. A similar structure to above will be followed, where the legal adviser for the court will ask you to confirm your personal details and will then read out your offences asking you how you plead. If you have been charged with an either way offence, you can plead guilty or not guilty, but you can also refuse to indicate how you plead. You can plead differently to each individual offence.

At least one of your parents (or guardians) must come to Court with you, if you are 17 years of age this is not compulsory, but still advisable. If no one attends with you, the case may be put off (adjourned) to another day.

Do not be afraid to ask if you do not understand anything. It can be explained to you. If you or your parent/guardian or other adult attending with you do not speak or understand English well, ask for an interpreter.

Plea Trial – What happens in a plea and trial preparation hearing at the Crown Court?

For either way offences that have been sent to the Crown Court, or offences that can only be heard at the Crown Court, there will be a plea and trial preparation hearing. 

First the prosecution representative will introduce themselves and your defence representative to the court. Your personal details will then be confirmed with you. The offences you have been charged with (the indictment) will be read to you by a member of court staff (court clerk) and they will ask you whether you plead guilty or not guilty. You will need to state whether you want to plead guilty or not guilty to each charge you face. You can plead differently to each individual offence.

At least one of your parents (or guardians) must come to Court with you, if you are 17 years of age this is not compulsory, but still advisable. If no one attends with you, the case may be put off (adjourned) to another day.

Do not be afraid to ask if you do not understand anything. It can be explained to you. If you or your parent/guardian or other adult attending with you do not speak or understand English well, ask for an interpreter.

Plea Trial – Who will be in the room?

In the court as well as you will be the judge (at the Magistrate’s court this could be a district judge but more likely is going to be a magistrate), the prosecution and defence representatives (usually barristers) and anyone working alongside them such as a less experienced barrister or a solicitor. There will also be the court staff, normally at least one clerk who sits in front of the judge facing the judge, and an usher who brings the judge into the court room. If you are already in the court room, then you will need to stand when the judge enters the room and stay standing until they have sat down. 

There may also be other barristers or members of the public in the room, however they will have no involvement in the hearing so you shouldn’t worry about them or what they are doing.

Plea Trial – Pleading

Pleading guilty at the Magistrate’s Court

If you have plead guilty to a summary offence (one that can only be heard at the Magistrate’s Court) then your case will usually progress to sentencing on the same day. 

If you have plead guilty to an either way offence (one that can be heard at the Magistrate’s and the Crown Court), then you may be sentenced at the Magistrate’s Court if they think it is appropriate, or they may decide to commit your case to the Crown Court for sentencing, which means you will have to wait until a date is set, and your sentence will be given by a judge at the Crown Court. 

Pleading guilty at the Crown Court

If you plead guilty at the Crown Court, then the judge may decide to sentence you straight away. Alternatively, they may decide to sentence you at a later date, in order to get a pre-sentence report first, which gives the judge advice on what sentence would be the most appropriate. 

Pleading not guilty at the Magistrate’s Court

If you plead not guilty at the Magistrate’s Court to a summary offence (one that can only be heard at the Magistrate’s Court), then the case will progress to trial in front of either three magistrates or a judge. This will not happen on the same day to give the prosecution and defence time to prepare for witnesses to come to court.

If you plead not guilty at the Magistrate’s Court to an either way offence (one that can be heard at the Magistrate’s and the Crown Court) then there will then need to be an allocation hearing to decide which court the trial should be held at. Here the prosecution and defence representatives will give their opinions on where the trial should be held, and the Magistrate’s court will then decide whether they will accept the case and deal with it or whether they will not accept it and send it to the Crown Court.

If the Magistrate’s Court decide to accept the case, then you, the defendant, will be given the option of where you want your trial to be. You can accept the decision of the Magistrate’s Court and have your trial there in front of three magistrates, or you can choose for your trial to take place in the Crown Court where it will happen in front of a Judge and Jury. 

Pleading not guilty at the Crown Court

If you plead not guilty at the Crown Court, then the case will have to go to trial. The court will move on to discuss the trial preparation part of the hearing. Both the prosecution and defence will identify the witnesses they wish to call and the evidence they want to use. The court will ask for an estimate of how long the trial will take as well as when the witnesses will need to attend court in order to set a date for the trial. 

If there are any provisions that need to be put in place for the trial, then these will be discussed by the judge in this hearing. 

Plea Trial – What happens at a plea trial at the Magistrate’s Court

What happens in a plea hearing at the Magistrate’s Court?

Plea hearings at the Magistrate’s Court will be different depending on the type of crime you are charged with. 

If your case can only be heard at the Magistrate’s Court (summary offence) then once in court the prosecution representative will introduce themselves and your defence representatives to the court. The legal adviser for the court will ask you to confirm some details about yourself such as your name, address, date of birth and nationality, and will then read out your offences. They will ask if you want to plead guilty or not guilty and you will then state whether you plead guilty or not guilty. You can plead differently to each individual offence.

If your case can be heard at the Magistrate’s Court or Crown Court (either-way offence) then you will have a ‘plea before venue’ hearing. A similar structure to above will be followed, where the legal adviser for the court will ask you to confirm your personal details and will then read out your offences asking you how you plead. If you have been charged with an either way offence, you can plead guilty or not guilty, but you can also refuse to indicate how you plead. You can plead differently to each individual offence.

Plea Trial – What happens in a plea and trial preparation hearing at the Crown Court?

For either way offences that have been sent to the Crown Court, or offences that can only be heard at the Crown Court, there will be a plea and trial preparation hearing. 

First the prosecution representative will introduce themselves and your defence representative to the court. Your personal details will then be confirmed with you. The offences you have been charged with (the indictment) will be read to you by a member of court staff (court clerk) and they will ask you whether you plead guilty or not guilty. You will need to state whether you want to plead guilty or not guilty to each charge you face. You can plead differently to each individual offence.

Plea Trial – Who will be in the room?

In the court as well as you will be the judge (at the Magistrate’s court this could be a district judge but more likely is going to be a magistrate), the prosecution and defence representatives (usually barristers) and anyone working alongside them such as a less experienced barrister or a solicitor. There will also be the court staff, normally at least one clerk who sits in front of the judge facing the judge, and an usher who brings the judge into the court room. If you are already in the court room, then you will need to stand when the judge enters the room and stay standing until they have sat down. 

There may also be other barristers or members of the public in the room, however they will have no involvement in the hearing so you shouldn’t worry about them or what they are doing.

Plea Trial – Pleading

Pleading guilty at the Magistrate’s Court

If you have plead guilty to a summary offence (one that can only be heard at the Magistrate’s Court) then your case will usually progress to sentencing on the same day. 

If you have plead guilty to an either way offence (one that can be heard at the Magistrate’s and the Crown Court), then you may be sentenced at the Magistrate’s Court if they think it is appropriate, or they may decide to commit your case to the Crown Court for sentencing, which means you will have to wait until a date is set, and your sentence will be given by a judge at the Crown Court. 

Pleading guilty at the Crown Court

If you plead guilty at the Crown Court, then the judge may decide to sentence you straight away. Alternatively, they may decide to sentence you at a later date, in order to get a pre-sentence report first, which gives the judge advice on what sentence would be the most appropriate. 

Pleading not guilty at the Magistrate’s Court

If you plead not guilty at the Magistrate’s Court to a summary offence (one that can only be heard at the Magistrate’s Court), then the case will progress to trial in front of either three magistrates or a judge. This will not happen on the same day to give the prosecution and defence time to prepare for witnesses to come to court.

If you plead not guilty at the Magistrate’s Court to an either way offence (one that can be heard at the Magistrate’s and the Crown Court) then there will then need to be an allocation hearing to decide which court the trial should be held at. Here the prosecution and defence representatives will give their opinions on where the trial should be held, and the Magistrate’s court will then decide whether they will accept the case and deal with it or whether they will not accept it and send it to the Crown Court.

If the Magistrate’s Court decide to accept the case, then you, the defendant, will be given the option of where you want your trial to be. You can accept the decision of the Magistrate’s Court and have your trial there in front of three magistrates, or you can choose for your trial to take place in the Crown Court where it will happen in front of a Judge and Jury. 

Pleading not guilty at the Crown Court

If you plead not guilty at the Crown Court, then the case will have to go to trial. The court will move on to discuss the trial preparation part of the hearing. Both the prosecution and defence will identify the witnesses they wish to call and the evidence they want to use. The court will ask for an estimate of how long the trial will take as well as when the witnesses will need to attend court in order to set a date for the trial. 

If there are any provisions that need to be put in place for the trial, then these will be discussed by the judge in this hearing. 

Plea Trial – What happens at a plea trial at the Magistrate’s Court

What happens in a plea hearing at the Magistrate’s Court?

Plea hearings at the Magistrate’s Court will be different depending on the type of crime you are charged with. 

If your case can only be heard at the Magistrate’s Court (summary offence) then once in court the prosecution representative will introduce themselves and your defence representatives to the court. The legal adviser for the court will ask you to confirm some details about yourself such as your name, address, date of birth and nationality, and will then read out your offences. They will ask if you want to plead guilty or not guilty and you will then state whether you plead guilty or not guilty. You can plead differently to each individual offence.

If your case can be heard at the Magistrate’s Court or Crown Court (either-way offence) then you will have a ‘plea before venue’ hearing. A similar structure to above will be followed, where the legal adviser for the court will ask you to confirm your personal details and will then read out your offences asking you how you plead. If you have been charged with an either way offence, you can plead guilty or not guilty, but you can also refuse to indicate how you plead. You can plead differently to each individual offence.

Plea Trial – What happens in a plea and trial preparation hearing at the Crown Court?

For either way offences that have been sent to the Crown Court, or offences that can only be heard at the Crown Court, there will be a plea and trial preparation hearing. 

First the prosecution representative will introduce themselves and your defence representative to the court. Your personal details will then be confirmed with you. The offences you have been charged with (the indictment) will be read to you by a member of court staff (court clerk) and they will ask you whether you plead guilty or not guilty. You will need to state whether you want to plead guilty or not guilty to each charge you face. You can plead differently to each individual offence.

Plea Trial – Who will be in the room?

In the court as well as you will be the judge (at the Magistrate’s court this could be a district judge but more likely is going to be a magistrate), the prosecution and defence representatives (usually barristers) and anyone working alongside them such as a less experienced barrister or a solicitor. There will also be the court staff, normally at least one clerk who sits in front of the judge facing the judge, and an usher who brings the judge into the court room. If you are already in the court room, then you will need to stand when the judge enters the room and stay standing until they have sat down. 

There may also be other barristers or members of the public in the room, however they will have no involvement in the hearing so you shouldn’t worry about them or what they are doing.

Plea Trial – Pleading

Pleading guilty at the Magistrate’s Court

If you have plead guilty to a summary offence (one that can only be heard at the Magistrate’s Court) then your case will usually progress to sentencing on the same day. 

If you have plead guilty to an either way offence (one that can be heard at the Magistrate’s and the Crown Court), then you may be sentenced at the Magistrate’s Court if they think it is appropriate, or they may decide to commit your case to the Crown Court for sentencing, which means you will have to wait until a date is set, and your sentence will be given by a judge at the Crown Court. 

Pleading guilty at the Crown Court

If you plead guilty at the Crown Court, then the judge may decide to sentence you straight away. Alternatively, they may decide to sentence you at a later date, in order to get a pre-sentence report first, which gives the judge advice on what sentence would be the most appropriate. 

Pleading not guilty at the Magistrate’s Court

If you plead not guilty at the Magistrate’s Court to a summary offence (one that can only be heard at the Magistrate’s Court), then the case will progress to trial in front of either three magistrates or a judge. This will not happen on the same day to give the prosecution and defence time to prepare for witnesses to come to court.

If you plead not guilty at the Magistrate’s Court to an either way offence (one that can be heard at the Magistrate’s and the Crown Court) then there will then need to be an allocation hearing to decide which court the trial should be held at. Here the prosecution and defence representatives will give their opinions on where the trial should be held, and the Magistrate’s court will then decide whether they will accept the case and deal with it or whether they will not accept it and send it to the Crown Court.

If the Magistrate’s Court decide to accept the case, then you, the defendant, will be given the option of where you want your trial to be. You can accept the decision of the Magistrate’s Court and have your trial there in front of three magistrates, or you can choose for your trial to take place in the Crown Court where it will happen in front of a Judge and Jury. 

Pleading not guilty at the Crown Court

If you plead not guilty at the Crown Court, then the case will have to go to trial. The court will move on to discuss the trial preparation part of the hearing. Both the prosecution and defence will identify the witnesses they wish to call and the evidence they want to use. The court will ask for an estimate of how long the trial will take as well as when the witnesses will need to attend court in order to set a date for the trial. 

If there are any provisions that need to be put in place for the trial, then these will be discussed by the judge in this hearing. 

Impact on Work/ Education – Workplace

Can you continue to work?

When being charged with a criminal offence, one of your main concerns may be the safety of your job. The ACAS Code of Practice on Discipline and Grievance emphasises that being charged with an offence should not lead to immediate dismissal or even immediate disciplinary action. The guidance provided is, to evaluate the effect the charge may have on the employees’ (the charged) relationship with colleagues and customers within their sector. There is an emphasis on considering whether or not the charge has made them less suitable or less able to perform their role in any way before considering dismissal or disciplinary action. This should also apply if the charged is in custody. 

If the charges you are facing are linked with your job, you are susceptible to being dismissed from your role if it stops you from further carrying out that role. 

Can suspension apply?

It is important to consider that suspension may be justified in certain cases, where you will usually be provisionally suspended from your role whilst investigations take place, you should be entitled to your pay during this period unless your contract with your employer explicitly states otherwise. 

Can you lose your job/ is your job secure on suspension?

Employers should consider the circumstances of the situation, and whether the allegation is linked to the job. If the arrest is not linked directly to something that has occurred in their job the employer should not dismiss the employee immediately. Whether the arrest and charges would have a clear effect on their role, and the severity of the crime are examples of factors to be considered whilst contemplating suspension or dismissal of an employee facing a criminal charge. 

Whether or not your job is secure is likely to depend on the significance of the role, that is, does someone need to fill the role immediately, this will especially apply if the employee has been remanded, and is uncertain how long this will last. 

Will you get paid whilst being suspended? 

As an employee who has been suspended, you should continue to receive your pay from your employer, unless there is an exception stated in your working contract. It is important however to refer to your working contract in order to know if you will get paid your regular wage.

Can you still enjoy job benefits on suspension? 

Unless there is something specific in the contract stating otherwise, you should be able to get your job benefits as usual. 

Impact on Work/ Education – Education

Can you continue to study?

As a university student, the immediate impacts on your education will usually differ and depend on your specific university’s policy regarding student misconduct. Many policies will ask that you inform your university if you have been charged or are undergoing criminal investigation, for them to make a decision on your studies, due to their duty of care to other students and staff. However, it is crucial to read your specific institution’s policy on student misconduct to know what obligations and impacts apply to you directly.

Charged with bail or remand in custody? 

It is possible when charged with a criminal offence to be released on bail, which means you can be released until your next appearance in court. Often when released on bail, defendants are subject to certain conditions that can restrict you from going to certain places and speaking to certain people. A condition not to enter your place of education or surrounding areas could be made by the court and would have to be adhered to. Whether the court does impose bail conditions and, if so, what they are, will depend on the facts and allegations in a given case.  Please seek legal advice on this point because it is highly fact specific.  It is important to read the policies specific to your place of education in these situations, and to adhere to the conditions of bail, to avoid being arrested and possibly losing your bail. 

An alternative outcome of being charged and released on bail is to be charged and remanded in custody.  This can happen when the statutory exceptions to a person’s right to bail apply in particular circumstances – again, seek legal advice on the facts of your case. If remanded in custody, you will be taken to prison while your hearing at court is pending. Note that it is likely that those under the age of eighteen are to be taken to a centre for young people. This may pose an obvious concern on how studying can continue from inside a prison or a centre for young people. Particularly in a centre for young people, education is continued to be provided under their programmes.

Do you still have a right to continue to study? 

Generally, you should be able to continue to study. However, as touched on above, this will vary considering what your specific university, or place of education’s policies are. From observing several universities’ policies on this, they would typically ask you to inform them of any charges you are facing and will make a decision regarding your studies on a case-by-case basis, considering the severity of the charges and their effect on other staff members and students, ensuring they are fulfilling their duty of care. 

What happens with studying fees? (particularly university) 

If you are asked to leave your university or choose to withdraw yourself, the payable amount of your fees are likely to differ from each university, and considering at what point in your course you are leaving. 

Do you have a right to access on campus facilities? 

Your right to access on-campus facilities after facing criminal charges is likely to depend on a number of factors, these may include, your university’s policy, the severity of the crime that has allegedly taken place, what course you are enrolled on, and any bail conditions.  If remanded in custody then your access to campus facilities is naturally likely to be highly restricted or stopped altogether.  

Impact on Work/ Education – Workplace

Can you continue to work?

When being charged with a criminal offence, one of your main concerns may be the safety of your job. The ACAS Code of Practice on Discipline and Grievance emphasises that being charged with an offence should not lead to immediate dismissal or even immediate disciplinary action. The guidance provided is, to evaluate the effect the charge may have on the employees’ (the charged) relationship with colleagues and customers within their sector. There is an emphasis on considering whether or not the charge has made them less suitable or less able to perform their role in any way before considering dismissal or disciplinary action. This should also apply if the charged is in custody. 

If the charges you are facing are linked with your job, you are susceptible to being dismissed from your role if it stops you from further carrying out that role. 

Can suspension apply?

It is important to consider that suspension may be justified in certain cases, where you will usually be provisionally suspended from your role whilst investigations take place, you should be entitled to your pay during this period unless your contract with your employer explicitly states otherwise. 

Can you lose your job/ is your job secure on suspension?

Employers should consider the circumstances of the situation, and whether the allegation is linked to the job. If the arrest is not linked directly to something that has occurred in their job the employer should not dismiss the employee immediately. Whether the arrest and charges would have a clear effect on their role, and the severity of the crime are examples of factors to be considered whilst contemplating suspension or dismissal of an employee facing a criminal charge. 

Whether or not your job is secure is likely to depend on the significance of the role, that is, does someone need to fill the role immediately, this will especially apply if the employee has been remanded, and is uncertain how long this will last. 

Will you get paid whilst being suspended? 

As an employee who has been suspended, you should continue to receive your pay from your employer, unless there is an exception stated in your working contract. It is important however to refer to your working contract in order to know if you will get paid your regular wage.

Can you still enjoy job benefits on suspension? 

Unless there is something specific in the contract stating otherwise, you should be able to get your job benefits as usual. 

Impact on Work/ Education – Education

Can you continue to study?

As a university student, the immediate impacts on your education will usually differ and depend on your specific university’s policy regarding student misconduct. Many policies will ask that you inform your university if you have been charged or are undergoing criminal investigation, for them to make a decision on your studies, due to their duty of care to other students and staff. However, it is crucial to read your specific institution’s policy on student misconduct to know what obligations and impacts apply to you directly.

Charged with bail or remand in custody? 

It is possible when charged with a criminal offence to be released on bail, which means you can be released until your next appearance in court. Often when released on bail, defendants are subject to certain conditions that can restrict you from going to certain places and speaking to certain people. A condition not to enter your place of education or surrounding areas could be made by the court and would have to be adhered to. Whether the court does impose bail conditions and, if so, what they are, will depend on the facts and allegations in a given case.  Please seek legal advice on this point because it is highly fact specific.  It is important to read the policies specific to your place of education in these situations, and to adhere to the conditions of bail, to avoid being arrested and possibly losing your bail. 

An alternative outcome of being charged and released on bail is to be charged and remanded in custody.  This can happen when the statutory exceptions to a person’s right to bail apply in particular circumstances – again, seek legal advice on the facts of your case. If remanded in custody, you will be taken to prison while your hearing at court is pending. Note that it is likely that those under the age of eighteen are to be taken to a centre for young people. This may pose an obvious concern on how studying can continue from inside a prison or a centre for young people. Particularly in a centre for young people, education is continued to be provided under their programmes.

Do you still have a right to continue to study? 

Generally, you should be able to continue to study. However, as touched on above, this will vary considering what your specific university, or place of education’s policies are. From observing several universities’ policies on this, they would typically ask you to inform them of any charges you are facing and will make a decision regarding your studies on a case-by-case basis, considering the severity of the charges and their effect on other staff members and students, ensuring they are fulfilling their duty of care. 

What happens with studying fees? (particularly university) 

If you are asked to leave your university or choose to withdraw yourself, the payable amount of your fees are likely to differ from each university, and considering at what point in your course you are leaving. 

Do you have a right to access on campus facilities? 

Your right to access on-campus facilities after facing criminal charges is likely to depend on a number of factors, these may include, your university’s policy, the severity of the crime that has allegedly taken place, what course you are enrolled on, and any bail conditions.  If remanded in custody then your access to campus facilities is naturally likely to be highly restricted or stopped altogether.  

Impact on Work/ Education – Workplace

Can you continue to work?

When being charged with a criminal offence, one of your main concerns may be the safety of your job. The ACAS Code of Practice on Discipline and Grievance emphasises that being charged with an offence should not lead to immediate dismissal or even immediate disciplinary action. The guidance provided is, to evaluate the effect the charge may have on the employees’ (the charged) relationship with colleagues and customers within their sector. There is an emphasis on considering whether or not the charge has made them less suitable or less able to perform their role in any way before considering dismissal or disciplinary action. This should also apply if the charged is in custody. 

If the charges you are facing are linked with your job, you are susceptible to being dismissed from your role if it stops you from further carrying out that role. 

Can suspension apply?

It is important to consider that suspension may be justified in certain cases, where you will usually be provisionally suspended from your role whilst investigations take place, you should be entitled to your pay during this period unless your contract with your employer explicitly states otherwise. 

Can you lose your job/ is your job secure on suspension?

Employers should consider the circumstances of the situation, and whether the allegation is linked to the job. If the arrest is not linked directly to something that has occurred in their job the employer should not dismiss the employee immediately. Whether the arrest and charges would have a clear effect on their role, and the severity of the crime are examples of factors to be considered whilst contemplating suspension or dismissal of an employee facing a criminal charge. 

Whether or not your job is secure is likely to depend on the significance of the role, that is, does someone need to fill the role immediately, this will especially apply if the employee has been remanded, and is uncertain how long this will last. 

Will you get paid whilst being suspended? 

As an employee who has been suspended, you should continue to receive your pay from your employer, unless there is an exception stated in your working contract. It is important however to refer to your working contract in order to know if you will get paid your regular wage.

Can you still enjoy job benefits on suspension? 

Unless there is something specific in the contract stating otherwise, you should be able to get your job benefits as usual. 

Impact on Work/ Education – Education

Can you continue to study?

As a university student, the immediate impacts on your education will usually differ and depend on your specific university’s policy regarding student misconduct. Many policies will ask that you inform your university if you have been charged or are undergoing criminal investigation, for them to make a decision on your studies, due to their duty of care to other students and staff. However, it is crucial to read your specific institution’s policy on student misconduct to know what obligations and impacts apply to you directly.

Charged with bail or remand in custody? 

It is possible when charged with a criminal offence to be released on bail, which means you can be released until your next appearance in court. Often when released on bail, defendants are subject to certain conditions that can restrict you from going to certain places and speaking to certain people. A condition not to enter your place of education or surrounding areas could be made by the court and would have to be adhered to. Whether the court does impose bail conditions and, if so, what they are, will depend on the facts and allegations in a given case.  Please seek legal advice on this point because it is highly fact specific.  It is important to read the policies specific to your place of education in these situations, and to adhere to the conditions of bail, to avoid being arrested and possibly losing your bail. 

An alternative outcome of being charged and released on bail is to be charged and remanded in custody.  This can happen when the statutory exceptions to a person’s right to bail apply in particular circumstances – again, seek legal advice on the facts of your case. If remanded in custody, you will be taken to prison while your hearing at court is pending. Note that it is likely that those under the age of eighteen are to be taken to a centre for young people. This may pose an obvious concern on how studying can continue from inside a prison or a centre for young people. Particularly in a centre for young people, education is continued to be provided under their programmes.

Do you still have a right to continue to study? 

Generally, you should be able to continue to study. However, as touched on above, this will vary considering what your specific university, or place of education’s policies are. From observing several universities’ policies on this, they would typically ask you to inform them of any charges you are facing and will make a decision regarding your studies on a case-by-case basis, considering the severity of the charges and their effect on other staff members and students, ensuring they are fulfilling their duty of care. 

What happens with studying fees? (particularly university) 

If you are asked to leave your university or choose to withdraw yourself, the payable amount of your fees are likely to differ from each university, and considering at what point in your course you are leaving. 

Do you have a right to access on campus facilities? 

Your right to access on-campus facilities after facing criminal charges is likely to depend on a number of factors, these may include, your university’s policy, the severity of the crime that has allegedly taken place, what course you are enrolled on, and any bail conditions.  If remanded in custody then your access to campus facilities is naturally likely to be highly restricted or stopped altogether.  

Roles in a Courtroom – Crown Court

Crown Court: 

Judge 

A judge wears a traditional white wig and a black gown and is in charge of the proceedings and fairness of the trial. Their role is to ensure that the trial is presented as clearly as possible to both the defendant and the jury. They apply the law to the facts presented to them and make sure that the jury understands what the law is and advise them if necessary. If a defendant is found guilty by the jury, it is the judge’s job to decide what their sentence should be. 

Jury

The jury appears in the Crown Court and is made up of 12 ordinary people chosen at random from the UK electoral register. It is the jury’s job to listen to the entire trial and then decide if they think the defendant is guilty. As far as possible, the jury is kept free from external influence and pressure, with their deliberations being kept completely confidential. Every jury must nominate one member to be a foreman, they will be the spokesperson on behalf of the group who delivers the jury’s decision to the court. 

It is important to note that the jury do not need to come to a unanimous verdict for a decision to be valid. A majority verdict, (being 10 people in agreeance and two people in dissent) is also an appropriate level to pass the decision of guilt. The jury can also come to the decision that a defendant is not guilty or come to no decision at all. Where the jury are unable to come to no decision the trial can be re-heard before a new jury this is called a re-trial. 

The Defendant

The defendant is the person who has been accused of the crime. They sit in the dock while representations are made both for and against their case. Sometimes an officer will sit with them.

Prosecution Barrister 

Prosecution barristers bring the case against the defendant, attempting to show the court how the defendant has broken the law. Depending on the type of case being heard, they normally wear a black gown and wig. It is their role to provide sufficient evidence that the defendant is guilty ‘beyond reasonable doubt’, this means so that the jury are sure. If the jury are not convinced by the evidence presented by the prosecution barrister, they must give a not guilty verdict. 

Defence Barrister 

On the contrary then, a defence barrister represents the person accused of committing the crime. Due to the doctrine of “innocent until proven guilty,” the burden of proof is on the prosecution barrister, so it is not the role of the defence barrister to prove the innocence of the defendant. Their role is to point out weaknesses in the prosecution’s arguments, and present evidence in the defendant’s favour. Like the prosecution barrister, they wear a black gown and wig. 

Solicitor Advocates

A solicitor advocate is a solicitor who has the same role in the Crown Court as a barrister, as they are qualified to do so. They wear a black gown and sometimes a wig. 

The Solicitors 

The solicitors, no matter whether they side with the defence or prosecution, tend to sit behind the barristers. Their role is to take notes on the trial in hopes that they can get information which will progress the case in their favour. They do not speak in the Crown Court unless they are qualified to do so. 

The Clerk

The court clerk sits at the front of the court and prepares the administrative needs of the court, like the use of technology to present evidence. They read the formalities of the trial like the charges of the accused and take oaths from the members of the jury. They wear a black gown. 

The Usher

The usher should ensure the trial runs smoothly. Like the court clerk, they wear a black robe and complete a range of tasks. They can carry written questions from the jury to the judge and will instruct the courtroom to stand upon entry of the judge and also when they leave. They escort witnesses to and from the witness box as well as taking the oaths and affirmations from them.

Public Gallery

 There is a public gallery in which anyone is entitled to observe the trial. Children under 14 years old are not permitted in the public gallery.

Roles in a Courtroom – Youth Court

District Judges 

District Judges are full-time members of the judiciary who can hear cases in the Magistrates’ Courts. They are not a common fixture in cases at the Magistrates’ Court, however. They normally deal with more complex matters and areas of law. They usually wear a black gown and a wig.

Magistrate 

Magistrates are unpaid volunteers who sit in the Magistrates’ Court. They do not have to be legally trained in order to be a Magistrate, the way judges are. Like a judge, they are in charge of the Court room and may also be called ‘Justices of the Peace’. As there is no jury in the Magistrates’ Court, it is the Magistrate’s job to decide whether the defendant is guilty or not guilty. Unlike judges in the Crown Court, they wear ordinary clothes and do not wear traditional wigs or gowns. A youth court bench of three or occasionally two magistrates trained in youth justice, or a district judge sitting alone hear the case.

The Defendant

This is the same as the definition given above. The defendant in the Magistrates’ Court is the person accused of the offence and will sit in the dock. The only difference between defendants in the Magistrates’ Court and the Crown Court is that the Magistrates’ Court is generally used to hear less serious offences. 

Prosecution Lawyer 

The prosecution lawyer presents the case in an attempt to prove the guilt of the defendant. The difference here from the Crown Court is that the lawyer presenting the case can be either a barrister, solicitor advocate or a solicitor. 

Defence Lawyer 

The defence lawyer will present the case of the defendant; as in the Crown Court, they do not have to prove innocence. They will highlight weaknesses in the prosecution’s arguments and will normally wear a black gown and wig. Like with the prosecution, the defence lawyer can be either a solicitor, solicitor advocate or a barrister. 

The Clerk 

The Clerk takes a much more active role in the Magistrates’ Courts than in the Crown Court. They operate as a legal advisor to the Magistrates on the law, as Magistrates are not legally trained and tell the Magistrate’s what the law is where they are unsure. They sit at the front of the court and handle the court’s administrative needs, like setting up screens for the presentation of evidence. 

The Usher 

The Usher prepares the court room. They make sure that everyone involved in the case knows where to sit. They will wear a black gown. They normally guide witnesses to the witness box and deliver oaths and affirmations where required.  

Your parent or guardian must come with you:

  • if you’re under 16
  • if you’re 16 to 17 and they’re given a court order
Roles in a Courtroom – Crown Court

Crown Court: 

Judge 

A judge wears a traditional white wig and a black gown and is in charge of the proceedings and fairness of the trial. Their role is to ensure that the trial is presented as clearly as possible to both the defendant and the jury. They apply the law to the facts presented to them and make sure that the jury understands what the law is and advise them if necessary. If a defendant is found guilty by the jury, it is the judge’s job to decide what their sentence should be. 

Jury

The jury appears in the Crown Court and is made up of 12 ordinary people chosen at random from the UK electoral register. It is the jury’s job to listen to the entire trial and then decide if they think the defendant is guilty. As far as possible, the jury is kept free from external influence and pressure, with their deliberations being kept completely confidential. Every jury must nominate one member to be a foreman, they will be the spokesperson on behalf of the group who delivers the jury’s decision to the court. 

It is important to note that the jury do not need to come to a unanimous verdict for a decision to be valid. A majority verdict, (being 10 people in agreeance and two people in dissent) is also an appropriate level to pass the decision of guilt. The jury can also come to the decision that a defendant is not guilty or come to no decision at all. Where the jury are unable to come to no decision the trial can be re-heard before a new jury this is called a re-trial. 

The Defendant

The defendant is the person who has been accused of the crime. They sit in the dock while representations are made both for and against their case. Sometimes an officer will sit with them.

Prosecution Barrister 

Prosecution barristers bring the case against the defendant, attempting to show the court how the defendant has broken the law. Depending on the type of case being heard, they normally wear a black gown and wig. It is their role to provide sufficient evidence that the defendant is guilty ‘beyond reasonable doubt’, this means so that the jury are sure. If the jury are not convinced by the evidence presented by the prosecution barrister, they must give a not guilty verdict. 

Defence Barrister 

On the contrary then, a defence barrister represents the person accused of committing the crime. Due to the doctrine of “innocent until proven guilty,” the burden of proof is on the prosecution barrister, so it is not the role of the defence barrister to prove the innocence of the defendant. Their role is to point out weaknesses in the prosecution’s arguments, and present evidence in the defendant’s favour. Like the prosecution barrister, they wear a black gown and wig. 

Solicitor Advocates

A solicitor advocate is a solicitor who has the same role in the Crown Court as a barrister, as they are qualified to do so. They wear a black gown and sometimes a wig. 

The Solicitors 

The solicitors, no matter whether they side with the defence or prosecution, tend to sit behind the barristers. Their role is to take notes on the trial in hopes that they can get information which will progress the case in their favour. They do not speak in the Crown Court unless they are qualified to do so. 

The Clerk

The court clerk sits at the front of the court and prepares the administrative needs of the court, like the use of technology to present evidence. They read the formalities of the trial like the charges of the accused and take oaths from the members of the jury. They wear a black gown. 

The Usher

The usher should ensure the trial runs smoothly. Like the court clerk, they wear a black robe and complete a range of tasks. They can carry written questions from the jury to the judge and will instruct the courtroom to stand upon entry of the judge and also when they leave. They escort witnesses to and from the witness box as well as taking the oaths and affirmations from them.

Public Gallery

 There is a public gallery in which anyone is entitled to observe the trial. Children under 14 years old are not permitted in the public gallery.

Roles in a Courtroom – Magistrates Court

District Judges 

District Judges are full-time members of the judiciary who can hear cases in the Magistrates’ Courts. They are not a common fixture in cases at the Magistrates’ Court, however. They normally deal with more complex matters and areas of law. They usually wear a black gown and a wig.

Magistrate 

Magistrates are unpaid volunteers who sit in the Magistrates’ Court. They do not have to be legally trained in order to be a Magistrate, the way judges are. Like a judge, they are in charge of the Court room and may also be called ‘Justices of the Peace’. As there is no jury in the Magistrates’ Court, it is the Magistrate’s job to decide whether the defendant is guilty or not guilty. Unlike judges in the Crown Court, they wear ordinary clothes and do not wear traditional wigs or gowns.

The Defendant

This is the same as the definition given above. The defendant in the Magistrates’ Court is the person accused of the offence and will sit in the dock. The only difference between defendants in the Magistrates’ Court and the Crown Court is that the Magistrates’ Court is generally used to hear less serious offences. 

Prosecution Lawyer 

The prosecution lawyer presents the case in an attempt to prove the guilt of the defendant. The difference here from the Crown Court is that the lawyer presenting the case can be either a barrister or a solicitor. 

Defence Lawyer 

The defence lawyer will present the case of the defendant; as in the Crown Court, they do not have to prove innocence. They will highlight weaknesses in the prosecution’s arguments and will normally wear a black gown and wig. Like with the prosecution, the defence lawyer can be either a solicitor or a barrister. 

The Clerk 

The Clerk takes a much more active role in the Magistrates’ Courts than in the Crown Court. They operate as a legal advisor to the Magistrates on the law, as Magistrates are not legally trained. They sit at the front of the court and handle the court’s administrative needs, like setting up screens for the presentation of evidence.

The Usher 

The Usher prepares the court room. They make sure that everyone involved in the case knows where to sit. They will wear a black gown. They normally guide witnesses to the witness box and deliver oaths and affirmations where required.  

Roles in a Courtroom – Crown Court

Crown Court: 

Judge 

A judge wears a traditional white wig and a black gown and is in charge of the proceedings and fairness of the trial. Their role is to ensure that the trial is presented as clearly as possible to both the defendant and the jury. They apply the law to the facts presented to them and make sure that the jury understands what the law is and advise them if necessary. If a defendant is found guilty by the jury, it is the judge’s job to decide what their sentence should be. 

Jury

The jury appears in the Crown Court and is made up of 12 ordinary people chosen at random from the UK electoral register. It is the jury’s job to listen to the entire trial and then decide if they think the defendant is guilty. As far as possible, the jury is kept free from external influence and pressure, with their deliberations being kept completely confidential. Every jury must nominate one member to be a foreman, they will be the spokesperson on behalf of the group who delivers the jury’s decision to the court. 

It is important to note that the jury do not need to come to a unanimous verdict for a decision to be valid. A majority verdict, (being 10 people in agreeance and two people in dissent) is also an appropriate level to pass the decision of guilt. The jury can also come to the decision that a defendant is not guilty or come to no decision at all. Where the jury are unable to come to no decision the trial can be re-heard before a new jury this is called a re-trial. 

The Defendant

The defendant is the person who has been accused of the crime. They sit in the dock while representations are made both for and against their case. Sometimes an officer will sit with them.

Prosecution Barrister 

Prosecution barristers bring the case against the defendant, attempting to show the court how the defendant has broken the law. Depending on the type of case being heard, they normally wear a black gown and wig. It is their role to provide sufficient evidence that the defendant is guilty ‘beyond reasonable doubt’, this means so that the jury are sure. If the jury are not convinced by the evidence presented by the prosecution barrister, they must give a not guilty verdict. 

Defence Barrister 

On the contrary then, a defence barrister represents the person accused of committing the crime. Due to the doctrine of “innocent until proven guilty,” the burden of proof is on the prosecution barrister, so it is not the role of the defence barrister to prove the innocence of the defendant. Their role is to point out weaknesses in the prosecution’s arguments, and present evidence in the defendant’s favour. Like the prosecution barrister, they wear a black gown and wig. 

Solicitor Advocates

A solicitor advocate is a solicitor who has the same role in the Crown Court as a barrister, as they are qualified to do so. They wear a black gown and sometimes a wig. 

The Solicitors 

The solicitors, no matter whether they side with the defence or prosecution, tend to sit behind the barristers. Their role is to take notes on the trial in hopes that they can get information which will progress the case in their favour. They do not speak in the Crown Court unless they are qualified to do so. 

The Clerk

The court clerk sits at the front of the court and prepares the administrative needs of the court, like the use of technology to present evidence. They read the formalities of the trial like the charges of the accused and take oaths from the members of the jury. They wear a black gown. 

The Usher

The usher should ensure the trial runs smoothly. Like the court clerk, they wear a black robe and complete a range of tasks. They can carry written questions from the jury to the judge and will instruct the courtroom to stand upon entry of the judge and also when they leave. They escort witnesses to and from the witness box as well as taking the oaths and affirmations from them.

Public Gallery

 There is a public gallery in which anyone is entitled to observe the trial. Children under 14 years old are not permitted in the public gallery.

Roles in a Courtroom – Magistrates Court

District Judges 

District Judges are full-time members of the judiciary who can hear cases in the Magistrates’ Courts. They are not a common fixture in cases at the Magistrates’ Court, however. They normally deal with more complex matters and areas of law. They usually wear a black gown and a wig.

Magistrate 

Magistrates are unpaid volunteers who sit in the Magistrates’ Court. They do not have to be legally trained in order to be a Magistrate, the way judges are. Like a judge, they are in charge of the Court room and may also be called ‘Justices of the Peace’. As there is no jury in the Magistrates’ Court, it is the Magistrate’s job to decide whether the defendant is guilty or not guilty. Unlike judges in the Crown Court, they wear ordinary clothes and do not wear traditional wigs or gowns.

The Defendant

This is the same as the definition given above. The defendant in the Magistrates’ Court is the person accused of the offence and will sit in the dock. The only difference between defendants in the Magistrates’ Court and the Crown Court is that the Magistrates’ Court is generally used to hear less serious offences. 

Prosecution Lawyer 

The prosecution lawyer presents the case in an attempt to prove the guilt of the defendant. The difference here from the Crown Court is that the lawyer presenting the case can be either a barrister or a solicitor. 

Defence Lawyer 

The defence lawyer will present the case of the defendant; as in the Crown Court, they do not have to prove innocence. They will highlight weaknesses in the prosecution’s arguments and will normally wear a black gown and wig. Like with the prosecution, the defence lawyer can be either a solicitor or a barrister. 

The Clerk 

The Clerk takes a much more active role in the Magistrates’ Courts than in the Crown Court. They operate as a legal advisor to the Magistrates on the law, as Magistrates are not legally trained. They sit at the front of the court and handle the court’s administrative needs, like setting up screens for the presentation of evidence.

The Usher 

The Usher prepares the court room. They make sure that everyone involved in the case knows where to sit. They will wear a black gown. They normally guide witnesses to the witness box and deliver oaths and affirmations where required.  

Standard Process – Minor Offences

Young people who commit minor offenses are dealt with outside of the court system as much as possible. Reprimands, and official police warnings are usually given to young people who break the law. Orders like ASBO’s (Anti-Social Behaviour Orders) have a high profile because of media coverage, but if a young person continues to offend, they will eventually be sent to the youth court.

Standard Process – Youth Courts

Youth courts are less formal than adult courts. Children are called by their first names and the judge or magistrates will speak directly to the child and may ask questions.

Youth courts are specially designed to make it easier for children to understand what is happening and feel less intimidated by their surroundings. Cases can be heard by one district judge, or three lay magistrates.

Children under 16 must attend with a parent or guardian. Sixteen and seventeen year olds may attend with a parent, guardian or someone to support them. The parent, guardian or supporting adult should sit next to their child and remain seated throughout the proceedings.

Most children will go to the youth court unless they have been refused bail by the police and there is no youth court available, in which case they will be taken to the adult magistrates’ court for a decision on bail, and sent from there to the next youth court.

A child jointly charged with an adult will go to the adult magistrates’ court for their first appearance.

At the first appearance the court will ask the child if they are guilty or not guilty, if the child is charged with a grave crime the court will decide which court will hear the case. More serious cases may be sent to the Crown Court. The majority of cases will stay in the youth court.

The maximum sentence in the youth court is a two year Detention and Training Order (DTO).  

Where are youth courts?

Youth courts in England and Wales are held in magistrates court buildings. Some have dedicated youth courtrooms, but most use adult courts.

Which Courts do Young People Appear in?

In most cases young people aged between 10 (which is the legal age of criminal responsibility) and 17 will appear in the youth court. However, Magistrates’ courts also deal with offenders under 18 years old if they are in custody with an adult charged with the same crime. The young person could have been their accomplice for instance. The Crown Court also hears cases involving young people if their crime is more serious. This can happen if the crime committed is serious enough that the youth court can’t impose a sentence that the crime could attract.

How the Youth Court Works

Youth courts are just like any other court in the country, but they deal with specific cases where young people have continued to offend and must be give more strenuous sentences than the police can impose. The youth court is different from other courts in that there is no public gallery. Only those people connected to the case being heard are allowed in the courtroom. The press are allowed, but they have restrictions about what they can report. They can’t for instance, mention the names of the people in the courtroom.

The court itself is similar to every other court in the UK, but the magistrate has been given special training in how to handle young people that come before them. In some cases that involve very young children, the court officials won’t wear their usual uniforms or gowns. This is to reduce the stress that very young children may feel in a courtroom that can look intimidating to them.

Young people who appear in a youth court can be bailed to appear later or remanded into custody. The police will make a recommendation to the court about which of these they would prefer. If the offender pleads not guilty, they will then move forward to a trial at the youth court at a later date. If they plead guilty, sentencing will follow. If their crime is serious, the case will go to the Crown Court for either sentencing or trial.

Who hears the cases?

Cases are either heard by a youth court bench of three or occasionally two magistrates trained in youth justice, or a district judge sitting alone. Magistrates are assisted on matters of law by a legally trained clerk who advises on the sentencing options available to them in each case. No one wears a wig or a formal gown, unlike in the adult crown court.

Standard Process – Why do some children end up in the adult court?

Children are tried at the crown court in cases of murder, serious firearms offences, some violent or sexual offences, some crimes related to terrorism or anything that would carry a realistic probability of a custodial sentence of more than two years. They also often appear in the crown court if they are accused alongside adults.

Sometimes 18-year-olds will appear if their case began before their 18th birthday or if they are accused of breaching a referral order imposed before they turned 18.

Standard Process – Process

At trial in the magistrates’ court the verdict of ‘guilty’ or ‘not guilty’ is decided by the magistrates or District Judge. Where the trial is heard by magistrates, there must be at least two magistrates hearing the trial and each has an equal vote. There are no juries in the magistrates’ court. The Justices’ Legal Adviser takes no part in deciding the verdict.

The middle magistrate on the bench is the chair of the bench. Magistrates are referred to in court as ‘sir’ or ‘madam’. Collectively they are referred to as ‘the bench’ and sometimes as ‘your worships’.

In the magistrates’ court the legal representatives (mainly barristers and solicitors) wear suits or smart clothing. Magistrates and District Judges do not wear wigs and gowns, except in the City of London magistrates’ court where magistrates wear gowns. Other than this, wigs and gowns are only worn by lawyers and judges in the Crown Court.

Starting the trial

If the defendant has previously pleaded not guilty, the justices’ clerk will ask the defendant to confirm that plea. If no plea was previously taken, the defendant will be asked if they plead guilty or not guilty. Once the not guilty plea is entered or confirmed the trial can begin.

Before the prosecution opens its case, the court will deal with any legal arguments that need to be resolved. These might include applications to rely on a defendant’s or a prosecution witness’s previous convictions (known as a bad character application) or applications from the defence to exclude certain prosecution evidence as inadmissible (such as, for example, where a defendant was not cautioned before making a statement the prosecution wish to rely upon). There are a number of legal matters that might need to be resolved at this stage depending on the circumstances of the case.

In more complex cases, legal issues are sometimes argued and resolved at pre-trial hearings ordered specifically for that purpose. The decision as to when such legal arguments take place is made before the trial at the earlier case management hearing. 

Once legal arguments (if any) are dealt with, the trial will start with the opening speech by the prosecution.

Statement of issues by the Defence

Immediately after the prosecution opening speech the magistrates or District Judge may invite the defence representative (or defendant is he/she is unrepresented) to tell them what the issues in the case are, if this is not already clear.

The purpose of this is to help them understand the case and focus on those matters which are in dispute. 

It helps the magistrates or District Judge to understand the case by knowing exactly what these issues are from the outset. Sometimes there will be no need for such an initial statement from the defence if the prosecutor has made it clear what the issues are or it is apparent from the Defence Case Statement (DCS). A DCS is optional in the magistrates’ court but mandatory in the Crown Court.

Prosecution open case

Defence respond to the prosecution case

Close of prosecution case

Reopening the Prosecution case

Generally, once closed the prosecution cannot reopen its case, although if the defence raise an issue which the prosecution could not have foreseen, the magistrates/District Judge may allow the prosecution to call evidence in rebuttal. 

Similarly, they may allow the prosecution to call additional evidence which only becomes available after the case has been closed, or occasionally to adduce evidence of a formal nature (such as a witness’s age) which was inadvertently omitted.

No case to answer

After the close of the prosecution case, the defence may make a submission to the magistrates or District Judge to dismiss the case where the prosecution evidence discloses no case to answer, i.e. there is insufficient evidence to continue further with the trial.

If successful, there will be no need to present a defence case, the trial will not proceed any further and the defendant will be found not guilty on the direction of the Magistrates/District Judge.

Where there are multiple charges and a submission of no case to answer is only successful on some of them, the trial will proceed on the remainder.

Close of Defence Case

When all of the evidence has been adduced for the defendant, the defence will close its case by saying “that is the case for the defence” or similar.

Closing the defence case should not be confused with the defence closing speech which comes later.

Prosecution and defence closing speeches are dealt with in Part 4 -Verdict.

Prosecution Closing Speech

After the defence has closed its case, the prosecution are entitled to make a closing speech in the magistrates’ court only if the defendant has a legal representative, or (whether represented or not) the defendant has introduced evidence other than his/her own, i.e. called witnesses or relied on other evidence during the trial process (Criminal Procedure Rules Part 24, rule 24.3(3)(h)). 

Defence Closing Speech

The defence are always entitled to make a closing speech in the magistrates’ court which will follow the prosecution closing speech (if the prosecution are entitled to make one).

The defence will, of course, be seeking to persuade the magistrates or District Judge that the correct verdict should be one of Not Guilty.

The burden of proof is on the prosecution to prove a defendant’s guilt to a high standard, namely ‘beyond reasonable doubt’ (often referred to in court as the requirement for the magistrates/District Judge to be ‘satisfied so that you are sure’ of the defendant’s guilt). 

As such, it is the job of the defence to highlight those areas of evidence which reveal weaknesses in the prosecution case and demonstrate why the court cannot be sure of guilt.

Where the defence have advanced a positive defence case (i.e. a specific defence, such as alibi or self-defence), in addition to testing the prosecution evidence, the closing speech will focus on the credibility of the defence that has been presented. 

It is important not to reverse the burden of proof here, since the prosecution must prove its case. The defence do not have to make the court sure of anything. After all, if the magistrates or District Judge conclude that the defendant might have been acting in self-defence, or in an alibi case that the defendant might have been elsewhere, then this is sufficient for a verdict of not guilty because it means they are not ‘sure’ of the defendant’s guilt.

The defence are not entitled to refer to the likely sentence a defendant will receive if convicted, since at the trial stage the court’s task is to analyse the evidence and reach a verdict according to the evidence. Sentencing becomes relevant only upon a verdict of Guilty.

Making a compelling closing speech is a vital part of any advocate’s job on behalf of their client.

Standard Process – Process

At trial in the magistrates’ court the verdict of ‘guilty’ or ‘not guilty’ is decided by the magistrates or District Judge. Where the trial is heard by magistrates, there must be at least two magistrates hearing the trial and each has an equal vote. There are no juries in the magistrates’ court. The Justices’ Legal Adviser takes no part in deciding the verdict.

The middle magistrate on the bench is the chair of the bench. Magistrates are referred to in court as ‘sir’ or ‘madam’. Collectively they are referred to as ‘the bench’ and sometimes as ‘your worships’.

In the magistrates’ court the legal representatives (mainly barristers and solicitors) wear suits or smart clothing. Magistrates and District Judges do not wear wigs and gowns, except in the City of London magistrates’ court where magistrates wear gowns. Other than this, wigs and gowns are only worn by lawyers and judges in the Crown Court.

Starting the trial

If the defendant has previously pleaded not guilty, the justices’ clerk will ask the defendant to confirm that plea. If no plea was previously taken, the defendant will be asked if they plead guilty or not guilty. Once the not guilty plea is entered or confirmed the trial can begin.

Before the prosecution opens its case, the court will deal with any legal arguments that need to be resolved. These might include applications to rely on a defendant’s or a prosecution witness’s previous convictions (known as a bad character application) or applications from the defence to exclude certain prosecution evidence as inadmissible (such as, for example, where a defendant was not cautioned before making a statement the prosecution wish to rely upon). There are a number of legal matters that might need to be resolved at this stage depending on the circumstances of the case.

In more complex cases, legal issues are sometimes argued and resolved at pre-trial hearings ordered specifically for that purpose. The decision as to when such legal arguments take place is made before the trial at the earlier case management hearing. 

Once legal arguments (if any) are dealt with, the trial will start with the opening speech by the prosecution.

Statement of issues by the Defence

Immediately after the prosecution opening speech the magistrates or District Judge may invite the defence representative (or defendant is he/she is unrepresented) to tell them what the issues in the case are, if this is not already clear.

The purpose of this is to help them understand the case and focus on those matters which are in dispute. 

It helps the magistrates or District Judge to understand the case by knowing exactly what these issues are from the outset. Sometimes there will be no need for such an initial statement from the defence if the prosecutor has made it clear what the issues are or it is apparent from the Defence Case Statement (DCS). A DCS is optional in the magistrates’ court but mandatory in the Crown Court.

Prosecution open case

Defence respond to the prosecution case

Close of prosecution case

Reopening the Prosecution case

Generally, once closed the prosecution cannot reopen its case, although if the defence raise an issue which the prosecution could not have foreseen, the magistrates/District Judge may allow the prosecution to call evidence in rebuttal. 

Similarly, they may allow the prosecution to call additional evidence which only becomes available after the case has been closed, or occasionally to adduce evidence of a formal nature (such as a witness’s age) which was inadvertently omitted.

No case to answer

After the close of the prosecution case, the defence may make a submission to the magistrates or District Judge to dismiss the case where the prosecution evidence discloses no case to answer, i.e. there is insufficient evidence to continue further with the trial.

If successful, there will be no need to present a defence case, the trial will not proceed any further and the defendant will be found not guilty on the direction of the Magistrates/District Judge.

Where there are multiple charges and a submission of no case to answer is only successful on some of them, the trial will proceed on the remainder.

Close of Defence Case

When all of the evidence has been adduced for the defendant, the defence will close its case by saying “that is the case for the defence” or similar.

Closing the defence case should not be confused with the defence closing speech which comes later.

Prosecution and defence closing speeches are dealt with in Part 4 -Verdict.

Prosecution Closing Speech

After the defence has closed its case, the prosecution are entitled to make a closing speech in the magistrates’ court only if the defendant has a legal representative, or (whether represented or not) the defendant has introduced evidence other than his/her own, i.e. called witnesses or relied on other evidence during the trial process (Criminal Procedure Rules Part 24, rule 24.3(3)(h)). 

Defence Closing Speech

The defence are always entitled to make a closing speech in the magistrates’ court which will follow the prosecution closing speech (if the prosecution are entitled to make one).

The defence will, of course, be seeking to persuade the magistrates or District Judge that the correct verdict should be one of Not Guilty.

The burden of proof is on the prosecution to prove a defendant’s guilt to a high standard, namely ‘beyond reasonable doubt’ (often referred to in court as the requirement for the magistrates/District Judge to be ‘satisfied so that you are sure’ of the defendant’s guilt). 

As such, it is the job of the defence to highlight those areas of evidence which reveal weaknesses in the prosecution case and demonstrate why the court cannot be sure of guilt.

Where the defence have advanced a positive defence case (i.e. a specific defence, such as alibi or self-defence), in addition to testing the prosecution evidence, the closing speech will focus on the credibility of the defence that has been presented. 

It is important not to reverse the burden of proof here, since the prosecution must prove its case. The defence do not have to make the court sure of anything. After all, if the magistrates or District Judge conclude that the defendant might have been acting in self-defence, or in an alibi case that the defendant might have been elsewhere, then this is sufficient for a verdict of not guilty because it means they are not ‘sure’ of the defendant’s guilt.

The defence are not entitled to refer to the likely sentence a defendant will receive if convicted, since at the trial stage the court’s task is to analyse the evidence and reach a verdict according to the evidence. Sentencing becomes relevant only upon a verdict of Guilty.

Making a compelling closing speech is a vital part of any advocate’s job on behalf of their client.

Standard Process – Process

At trial in the magistrates’ court the verdict of ‘guilty’ or ‘not guilty’ is decided by the magistrates or District Judge. Where the trial is heard by magistrates, there must be at least two magistrates hearing the trial and each has an equal vote. There are no juries in the magistrates’ court. The Justices’ Legal Adviser takes no part in deciding the verdict.

The middle magistrate on the bench is the chair of the bench. Magistrates are referred to in court as ‘sir’ or ‘madam’. Collectively they are referred to as ‘the bench’ and sometimes as ‘your worships’.

In the magistrates’ court the legal representatives (mainly barristers and solicitors) wear suits or smart clothing. Magistrates and District Judges do not wear wigs and gowns, except in the City of London magistrates’ court where magistrates wear gowns. Other than this, wigs and gowns are only worn by lawyers and judges in the Crown Court.

Starting the trial

If the defendant has previously pleaded not guilty, the justices’ clerk will ask the defendant to confirm that plea. If no plea was previously taken, the defendant will be asked if they plead guilty or not guilty. Once the not guilty plea is entered or confirmed the trial can begin.

Before the prosecution opens its case, the court will deal with any legal arguments that need to be resolved. These might include applications to rely on a defendant’s or a prosecution witness’s previous convictions (known as a bad character application) or applications from the defence to exclude certain prosecution evidence as inadmissible (such as, for example, where a defendant was not cautioned before making a statement the prosecution wish to rely upon). There are a number of legal matters that might need to be resolved at this stage depending on the circumstances of the case.

In more complex cases, legal issues are sometimes argued and resolved at pre-trial hearings ordered specifically for that purpose. The decision as to when such legal arguments take place is made before the trial at the earlier case management hearing. 

Once legal arguments (if any) are dealt with, the trial will start with the opening speech by the prosecution.

Statement of issues by the Defence

Immediately after the prosecution opening speech the magistrates or District Judge may invite the defence representative (or defendant is he/she is unrepresented) to tell them what the issues in the case are, if this is not already clear.

The purpose of this is to help them understand the case and focus on those matters which are in dispute. 

It helps the magistrates or District Judge to understand the case by knowing exactly what these issues are from the outset. Sometimes there will be no need for such an initial statement from the defence if the prosecutor has made it clear what the issues are or it is apparent from the Defence Case Statement (DCS). A DCS is optional in the magistrates’ court but mandatory in the Crown Court.

Prosecution open case

Defence respond to the prosecution case

Close of prosecution case

Reopening the Prosecution case

Generally, once closed the prosecution cannot reopen its case, although if the defence raise an issue which the prosecution could not have foreseen, the magistrates/District Judge may allow the prosecution to call evidence in rebuttal. 

Similarly, they may allow the prosecution to call additional evidence which only becomes available after the case has been closed, or occasionally to adduce evidence of a formal nature (such as a witness’s age) which was inadvertently omitted.

No case to answer

After the close of the prosecution case, the defence may make a submission to the magistrates or District Judge to dismiss the case where the prosecution evidence discloses no case to answer, i.e. there is insufficient evidence to continue further with the trial.

If successful, there will be no need to present a defence case, the trial will not proceed any further and the defendant will be found not guilty on the direction of the Magistrates/District Judge.

Where there are multiple charges and a submission of no case to answer is only successful on some of them, the trial will proceed on the remainder.

Close of Defence Case

When all of the evidence has been adduced for the defendant, the defence will close its case by saying “that is the case for the defence” or similar.

Closing the defence case should not be confused with the defence closing speech which comes later.

Prosecution and defence closing speeches are dealt with in Part 4 -Verdict.

Prosecution Closing Speech

After the defence has closed its case, the prosecution are entitled to make a closing speech in the magistrates’ court only if the defendant has a legal representative, or (whether represented or not) the defendant has introduced evidence other than his/her own, i.e. called witnesses or relied on other evidence during the trial process (Criminal Procedure Rules Part 24, rule 24.3(3)(h)). 

Defence Closing Speech

The defence are always entitled to make a closing speech in the magistrates’ court which will follow the prosecution closing speech (if the prosecution are entitled to make one).

The defence will, of course, be seeking to persuade the magistrates or District Judge that the correct verdict should be one of Not Guilty.

The burden of proof is on the prosecution to prove a defendant’s guilt to a high standard, namely ‘beyond reasonable doubt’ (often referred to in court as the requirement for the magistrates/District Judge to be ‘satisfied so that you are sure’ of the defendant’s guilt). 

As such, it is the job of the defence to highlight those areas of evidence which reveal weaknesses in the prosecution case and demonstrate why the court cannot be sure of guilt.

Where the defence have advanced a positive defence case (i.e. a specific defence, such as alibi or self-defence), in addition to testing the prosecution evidence, the closing speech will focus on the credibility of the defence that has been presented. 

It is important not to reverse the burden of proof here, since the prosecution must prove its case. The defence do not have to make the court sure of anything. After all, if the magistrates or District Judge conclude that the defendant might have been acting in self-defence, or in an alibi case that the defendant might have been elsewhere, then this is sufficient for a verdict of not guilty because it means they are not ‘sure’ of the defendant’s guilt.

The defence are not entitled to refer to the likely sentence a defendant will receive if convicted, since at the trial stage the court’s task is to analyse the evidence and reach a verdict according to the evidence. Sentencing becomes relevant only upon a verdict of Guilty.

Making a compelling closing speech is a vital part of any advocate’s job on behalf of their client.

Rights – Rights During Trial

We are presumed innocent until proven guilty. The general rule is that the Prosecution must prove that a defendant in a criminal trial is guilty. If we are accused of a crime, we have the right to a public trial before a Judge and jury, where the evidence against us will be heard. For less serious offences, which can only be heard in the magistrates’ court, we are not entitled to a jury trial, but the other protections still apply.

Human Rights Acts

In the UK, human rights are protected under the Human Rights Act 1998. This Act incorporates the human rights set out in the European Convention on Human Rights (“ECHR”) into domestic law.

The right to a fair trial is a right protected by Article 6 of the ECHR. Article 6 states that, irrespective of the crime you have been accused of you have the right to a fair and public trial if you are charged with a criminal offence and have to go to court. 

What is a Fair Trial?

A fair trial is a hearing which:

  • Is held within a reasonable time
  • Is heard by an independent and impartial Judge
  • Tells you what the case against you is
  • Gives you enough time to gather your own evidence and prepare your case
  • Allows you representation or the right to represent yourself if you wish to
  • Provides you with free representation through legal aid funding if you cannot afford it
  • Allows you to call your own witnesses
  • Allows you to question the witnesses against you
  • Provides you with a free interpreter if you need one
  • Has judgment given publicly, but access to the trial may be restricted in specified circumstances.

You do not have to say anything at your trial if you do want to, although the jury may be able to draw an adverse inference from your silence.

It also ensures you have access to the courts and gives you the right to bring a civil case.

Rights – When may a Trial be Held in Secret?

Most hearings and judgments have to be made public. In rare circumstances, such as in a terrorism trial, hearings can be held in private if:

  • it is necessary and proportionate and in the interest of morals, public order or national security;
  • it is in the best interests of a child;
  • it is required for the protection of the private life of those involved;
  • it is strictly necessary in special circumstances when the court believes publicity would prejudice the interests of justice.
Rights – Rights During Trial

We are presumed innocent until proven guilty. The general rule is that the Prosecution must prove that a defendant in a criminal trial is guilty. If we are accused of a crime, we have the right to a public trial before a Judge and jury, where the evidence against us will be heard. For less serious offences, which can only be heard in the magistrates’ court, we are not entitled to a jury trial, but the other protections still apply.

Human Rights Acts

In the UK, human rights are protected under the Human Rights Act 1998. This Act incorporates the human rights set out in the European Convention on Human Rights (“ECHR”) into domestic law.

The right to a fair trial is a right protected by Article 6 of the ECHR. Article 6 states that, irrespective of the crime you have been accused of you have the right to a fair and public trial if you are charged with a criminal offence and have to go to court. 

What is a Fair Trial?

A fair trial is a hearing which:

  • Is held within a reasonable time
  • Is heard by an independent and impartial Judge
  • Tells you what the case against you is
  • Gives you enough time to gather your own evidence and prepare your case
  • Allows you representation or the right to represent yourself if you wish to
  • Provides you with free representation through legal aid funding if you cannot afford it
  • Allows you to call your own witnesses
  • Allows you to question the witnesses against you
  • Provides you with a free interpreter if you need one
  • Has judgment given publicly, but access to the trial may be restricted in specified circumstances.

You do not have to say anything at your trial if you do want to, although the jury may be able to draw an adverse inference from your silence.

It also ensures you have access to the courts and gives you the right to bring a civil case.

Rights – When may a Trial be Held in Secret?

Most hearings and judgments have to be made public. In rare circumstances, such as in a terrorism trial, hearings can be held in private if:

  • it is necessary and proportionate and in the interest of morals, public order or national security;
  • it is in the best interests of a child;
  • it is required for the protection of the private life of those involved;
  • it is strictly necessary in special circumstances when the court believes publicity would prejudice the interests of justice.
Rights – Rights During Trial

We are presumed innocent until proven guilty. The general rule is that the Prosecution must prove that a defendant in a criminal trial is guilty. If we are accused of a crime, we have the right to a public trial before a Judge and jury, where the evidence against us will be heard. For less serious offences, which can only be heard in the magistrates’ court, we are not entitled to a jury trial, but the other protections still apply.

Human Rights Acts

In the UK, human rights are protected under the Human Rights Act 1998. This Act incorporates the human rights set out in the European Convention on Human Rights (“ECHR”) into domestic law.

The right to a fair trial is a right protected by Article 6 of the ECHR. Article 6 states that, irrespective of the crime you have been accused of you have the right to a fair and public trial if you are charged with a criminal offence and have to go to court. 

What is a Fair Trial?

A fair trial is a hearing which:

  • Is held within a reasonable time
  • Is heard by an independent and impartial Judge
  • Tells you what the case against you is
  • Gives you enough time to gather your own evidence and prepare your case
  • Allows you representation or the right to represent yourself if you wish to
  • Provides you with free representation through legal aid funding if you cannot afford it
  • Allows you to call your own witnesses
  • Allows you to question the witnesses against you
  • Provides you with a free interpreter if you need one
  • Has judgment given publicly, but access to the trial may be restricted in specified circumstances.

You do not have to say anything at your trial if you do want to, although the jury may be able to draw an adverse inference from your silence.

It also ensures you have access to the courts and gives you the right to bring a civil case.

Rights – When may a Trial be Held in Secret?

Most hearings and judgments have to be made public. In rare circumstances, such as in a terrorism trial, hearings can be held in private if:

  • it is necessary and proportionate and in the interest of morals, public order or national security;
  • it is in the best interests of a child;
  • it is required for the protection of the private life of those involved;
  • it is strictly necessary in special circumstances when the court believes publicity would prejudice the interests of justice.
Presentation of Evidence – Newton hearing

Newton Hearing

When the Defendant enters a guilty plea on a basis which is not accepted by the prosecution, and which the Judge, magistrates or District Judge believes will make a big difference to the sentence, then there will need to be a Newton hearing. An example may be when a Defendant says he/she pushed a victim and the prosecution say he/she punched the victim several times. 

A Newton hearing is a mini trial and follows the procedure for a trial. The one difference in the Crown Court is that there is no Jury, this is done in front of the Judge only. 

The purpose of the Newton hearing is for the Magistrates or Judge to hear evidence and decide which version of events to sentence on, either the version of the prosecution or the version of the Defendant. 

At the end of the hearing the Judge will decide whether the prosecution have proved their version of the offence to the required standard (beyond reasonable doubt). If they have, then the Defendant will be sentenced on the prosecution version of the offence. If the Judge thinks the prosecution have not proved their version, the Defendant will be sentenced on his/her account of the offence. 

Any Defendant who pleads guilty to an offence is entitled to credit for the plea. However beware that if a Newton hearing is held and the Judge finds that the prosecution have proved their version of the offence, then the Defendant may lose some of the credit which would otherwise be given. 

Presentation of Evidence – Burden and Standard of Proof

What is the Burden and Standard of proof?

In a criminal case the prosecution must prove its case against a defendant; it is not for the defendant to prove he is innocent but for the prosecution to prove he is guilty. 

This is called the burden of proof and a defendant is innocent until proven guilty.

To prove that a defendant is guilty the prosecution must prove its case beyond reasonable doubt, this is the standard of proof.

The legal burden and standard of proof on the defence for particular defences

On rare occasions, there is a ‘legal burden’ of proof placed on the defence to prove a particular defence, but the standard of proof for the defence is on ‘the balance of probabilities’ (i.e. more likely than not) rather than the higher standard of proof ‘beyond reasonable doubt’ for the prosecution.

Defences in which there is a legal burden of proof on the defence include:

The partial defence of diminished responsibility (which reduces murder to manslaughter). This requires the defence to prove, on the balance of probabilities, that the defendant’s responsibility was diminished, within the legal meaning of that term, when the victim was killed.

This would mean that to convict the defendant of murder the jury would have to be sure that the defendant killed the victim, intending to do so or intending to cause the victim grievous bodily harm. If, however, the jury was satisfied that it was more likely than not that the defendant was suffering from diminished responsibility at the time, then the defendant would be found guilty of manslaughter rather than murder.

The defence of insanity also places a legal burden on the defence. Where this is raised, the defence have to prove that it was more likely than not that the defendant was insane, within the legal meaning of that term, at the time the alleged offence was committed and, if accepted, the verdict will be not guilty by reason of insanity.

The Evidential Burden

There is sometimes another type of burden on the defence called an ‘evidential burden’ which simply means that where the defence want a specific defence to be left to the jury for their consideration, there must at least be some evidence in the case to support it.

This is not a burden of proof as such and does not require proof to a particular standard. Rather, it means some evidence must exist for the defence to be left to the jury for their consideration.

For example, if a defendant charged with ABH wanted to rely on the defence of self-defence, there would have to be some evidence at the trial to allow the jury to consider this defence. The evidence could come, for example, from what the defendant said in the police interview, from what the defendant said at trial while giving evidence, from the response of the complainant to an allegation made during cross-examination that they were the aggressor, or from evidence given by other witnesses at trial.

On the other hand, if the defendant did not give evidence at trial, had made no comment during police interview, had called no other evidence, and no witness throughout the trial had given any evidence from which self-defence could be inferred, then – so far as the defence of self-defence is concerned – there would be nothing for the jury to go on. It would not therefore be left to the jury for their consideration.

This does not in any way displace the requirement for the prosecution to prove its case, since the jury would still have to be sure that the case against the defendant was proved beyond reasonable doubt, so using the same ABH example, if the defendant presented no defence case at all, to convict the defendant the prosecution would still have to prove the case to the jury so that they were sure not only that the defendant was the person who committed the offence but that all the other elements of the offence had been proved.

Presentation of Evidence – Presentation of Evidence

What are the Rules surrounding Evidence in Court?

There are different types of evidence including witness statements, hearsay evidence, real evidence (materials such as clothing and weapons from the crime scene), medical notes and recordings or transcripts of phone calls and emails.

How is evidence presented for a defendant who is 18 or above?

Witnesses, including the defendant, can present evidence in several ways, but the most usual method for defendants is in person. This enables the jury to get a sense of the defendant as a person, in order to decide whether they accept his/her evidence. A defendant or witness can participate in a trial via video link if the court decides this is appropriate. This might be for various reasons such as ill health, vulnerability, etc.

Why does the defendant need to present evidence?

A defendant, who is 18 or above, is legally an adult in the eyes of the law. He/she has the right to present evidence to back up their version of events or support their claim of a defence, such as self-defence or insanity. The defendant is not obliged to give evidence, or to present any evidence: the burden of proof remains on the prosecution to prove the defendant’s guilt; the defendant does not have to prove his/her innocence.  However, where the defence seek to prove a defence such as self-defence, they need to provide some evidence to support it (see above).
In some circumstances, a refusal or failure to give evidence can  suggest to the jury and the court that the defendant is guilty of the crime he/she is charged with.  This is because it may lead the jury to think that the defendant is refusing to give evidence because he/she has no explanation for their actions other than being guilty.

Presentation of Evidence – Newton hearing

Newton Hearing

When the Defendant enters a guilty plea on a basis which is not accepted by the prosecution, and which the Judge, magistrates or District Judge believes will make a big difference to the sentence, then there will need to be a Newton hearing. An example may be when a Defendant says he/she pushed a victim and the prosecution say he/she punched the victim several times. 

A Newton hearing is a mini trial and follows the procedure for a trial. The one difference in the Crown Court is that there is no Jury, this is done in front of the Judge only. 

The purpose of the Newton hearing is for the Magistrates or Judge to hear evidence and decide which version of events to sentence on, either the version of the prosecution or the version of the Defendant. 

At the end of the hearing the Judge will decide whether the prosecution have proved their version of the offence to the required standard (beyond reasonable doubt). If they have, then the Defendant will be sentenced on the prosecution version of the offence. If the Judge thinks the prosecution have not proved their version, the Defendant will be sentenced on his/her account of the offence. 

Any Defendant who pleads guilty to an offence is entitled to credit for the plea. However beware that if a Newton hearing is held and the Judge finds that the prosecution have proved their version of the offence, then the Defendant may lose some of the credit which would otherwise be given. 

Presentation of Evidence – Burden and Standard of Proof

What is the Burden and Standard of proof?

In a criminal case the prosecution must prove its case against a defendant; it is not for the defendant to prove he is innocent but for the prosecution to prove he is guilty. 

This is called the burden of proof and a defendant is innocent until proven guilty.

To prove that a defendant is guilty the prosecution must prove its case beyond reasonable doubt, this is the standard of proof.

The legal burden and standard of proof on the defence for particular defences

On rare occasions, there is a ‘legal burden’ of proof placed on the defence to prove a particular defence, but the standard of proof for the defence is on ‘the balance of probabilities’ (i.e. more likely than not) rather than the higher standard of proof ‘beyond reasonable doubt’ for the prosecution.

Defences in which there is a legal burden of proof on the defence include:

The partial defence of diminished responsibility (which reduces murder to manslaughter). This requires the defence to prove, on the balance of probabilities, that the defendant’s responsibility was diminished, within the legal meaning of that term, when the victim was killed.

This would mean that to convict the defendant of murder the jury would have to be sure that the defendant killed the victim, intending to do so or intending to cause the victim grievous bodily harm. If, however, the jury was satisfied that it was more likely than not that the defendant was suffering from diminished responsibility at the time, then the defendant would be found guilty of manslaughter rather than murder.

The defence of insanity also places a legal burden on the defence. Where this is raised, the defence have to prove that it was more likely than not that the defendant was insane, within the legal meaning of that term, at the time the alleged offence was committed and, if accepted, the verdict will be not guilty by reason of insanity.

The Evidential Burden

There is sometimes another type of burden on the defence called an ‘evidential burden’ which simply means that where the defence want a specific defence to be left to the jury for their consideration, there must at least be some evidence in the case to support it.

This is not a burden of proof as such and does not require proof to a particular standard. Rather, it means some evidence must exist for the defence to be left to the jury for their consideration.

For example, if a defendant charged with ABH wanted to rely on the defence of self-defence, there would have to be some evidence at the trial to allow the jury to consider this defence. The evidence could come, for example, from what the defendant said in the police interview, from what the defendant said at trial while giving evidence, from the response of the complainant to an allegation made during cross-examination that they were the aggressor, or from evidence given by other witnesses at trial.

On the other hand, if the defendant did not give evidence at trial, had made no comment during police interview, had called no other evidence, and no witness throughout the trial had given any evidence from which self-defence could be inferred, then – so far as the defence of self-defence is concerned – there would be nothing for the jury to go on. It would not therefore be left to the jury for their consideration.

This does not in any way displace the requirement for the prosecution to prove its case, since the jury would still have to be sure that the case against the defendant was proved beyond reasonable doubt, so using the same ABH example, if the defendant presented no defence case at all, to convict the defendant the prosecution would still have to prove the case to the jury so that they were sure not only that the defendant was the person who committed the offence but that all the other elements of the offence had been proved.

Presentation of Evidence – Presentation of Evidence

What are the Rules surrounding Evidence in Court?

There are different types of evidence including witness statements, hearsay evidence, real evidence (materials such as clothing and weapons from the crime scene), medical notes and recordings or transcripts of phone calls and emails.

How is evidence presented for a defendant who is 18 or above?

Witnesses, including the defendant, can present evidence in several ways, but the most usual method for defendants is in person. This enables the jury to get a sense of the defendant as a person, in order to decide whether they accept his/her evidence. A defendant or witness can participate in a trial via video link if the court decides this is appropriate. This might be for various reasons such as ill health, vulnerability, etc.

Why does the defendant need to present evidence?

A defendant, who is 18 or above, is legally an adult in the eyes of the law. He/she has the right to present evidence to back up their version of events or support their claim of a defence, such as self-defence or insanity. The defendant is not obliged to give evidence, or to present any evidence: the burden of proof remains on the prosecution to prove the defendant’s guilt; the defendant does not have to prove his/her innocence.  However, where the defence seek to prove a defence such as self-defence, they need to provide some evidence to support it (see above).
In some circumstances, a refusal or failure to give evidence can  suggest to the jury and the court that the defendant is guilty of the crime he/she is charged with.  This is because it may lead the jury to think that the defendant is refusing to give evidence because he/she has no explanation for their actions other than being guilty.

Presentation of Evidence – Newton hearing

Newton Hearing

When the Defendant enters a guilty plea on a basis which is not accepted by the prosecution, and which the Judge, magistrates or District Judge believes will make a big difference to the sentence, then there will need to be a Newton hearing. An example may be when a Defendant says he/she pushed a victim and the prosecution say he/she punched the victim several times. 

A Newton hearing is a mini trial and follows the procedure for a trial. The one difference in the Crown Court is that there is no Jury, this is done in front of the Judge only. 

The purpose of the Newton hearing is for the Magistrates or Judge to hear evidence and decide which version of events to sentence on, either the version of the prosecution or the version of the Defendant. 

At the end of the hearing the Judge will decide whether the prosecution have proved their version of the offence to the required standard (beyond reasonable doubt). If they have, then the Defendant will be sentenced on the prosecution version of the offence. If the Judge thinks the prosecution have not proved their version, the Defendant will be sentenced on his/her account of the offence. 

Any Defendant who pleads guilty to an offence is entitled to credit for the plea. However beware that if a Newton hearing is held and the Judge finds that the prosecution have proved their version of the offence, then the Defendant may lose some of the credit which would otherwise be given. 

Presentation of Evidence – Burden and Standard of Proof

What is the Burden and Standard of proof?

In a criminal case the prosecution must prove its case against a defendant; it is not for the defendant to prove he is innocent but for the prosecution to prove he is guilty. 

This is called the burden of proof and a defendant is innocent until proven guilty.

To prove that a defendant is guilty the prosecution must prove its case beyond reasonable doubt, this is the standard of proof.

The legal burden and standard of proof on the defence for particular defences

On rare occasions, there is a ‘legal burden’ of proof placed on the defence to prove a particular defence, but the standard of proof for the defence is on ‘the balance of probabilities’ (i.e. more likely than not) rather than the higher standard of proof ‘beyond reasonable doubt’ for the prosecution.

Defences in which there is a legal burden of proof on the defence include:

The partial defence of diminished responsibility (which reduces murder to manslaughter). This requires the defence to prove, on the balance of probabilities, that the defendant’s responsibility was diminished, within the legal meaning of that term, when the victim was killed.

This would mean that to convict the defendant of murder the jury would have to be sure that the defendant killed the victim, intending to do so or intending to cause the victim grievous bodily harm. If, however, the jury was satisfied that it was more likely than not that the defendant was suffering from diminished responsibility at the time, then the defendant would be found guilty of manslaughter rather than murder.

The defence of insanity also places a legal burden on the defence. Where this is raised, the defence have to prove that it was more likely than not that the defendant was insane, within the legal meaning of that term, at the time the alleged offence was committed and, if accepted, the verdict will be not guilty by reason of insanity.

The Evidential Burden

There is sometimes another type of burden on the defence called an ‘evidential burden’ which simply means that where the defence want a specific defence to be left to the jury for their consideration, there must at least be some evidence in the case to support it.

This is not a burden of proof as such and does not require proof to a particular standard. Rather, it means some evidence must exist for the defence to be left to the jury for their consideration.

For example, if a defendant charged with ABH wanted to rely on the defence of self-defence, there would have to be some evidence at the trial to allow the jury to consider this defence. The evidence could come, for example, from what the defendant said in the police interview, from what the defendant said at trial while giving evidence, from the response of the complainant to an allegation made during cross-examination that they were the aggressor, or from evidence given by other witnesses at trial.

On the other hand, if the defendant did not give evidence at trial, had made no comment during police interview, had called no other evidence, and no witness throughout the trial had given any evidence from which self-defence could be inferred, then – so far as the defence of self-defence is concerned – there would be nothing for the jury to go on. It would not therefore be left to the jury for their consideration.

This does not in any way displace the requirement for the prosecution to prove its case, since the jury would still have to be sure that the case against the defendant was proved beyond reasonable doubt, so using the same ABH example, if the defendant presented no defence case at all, to convict the defendant the prosecution would still have to prove the case to the jury so that they were sure not only that the defendant was the person who committed the offence but that all the other elements of the offence had been proved.

Presentation of Evidence – Presentation of Evidence

What are the Rules surrounding Evidence in Court?

There are different types of evidence including witness statements, hearsay evidence, real evidence (materials such as clothing and weapons from the crime scene), medical notes and recordings or transcripts of phone calls and emails.

How is evidence presented for a defendant who is 18 or above?

Witnesses, including the defendant, can present evidence in several ways, but the most usual method for defendants is in person. This enables the jury to get a sense of the defendant as a person, in order to decide whether they accept his/her evidence. A defendant or witness can participate in a trial via video link if the court decides this is appropriate. This might be for various reasons such as ill health, vulnerability, etc.

Why does the defendant need to present evidence?

A defendant, who is 18 or above, is legally an adult in the eyes of the law. He/she has the right to present evidence to back up their version of events or support their claim of a defence, such as self-defence or insanity. The defendant is not obliged to give evidence, or to present any evidence: the burden of proof remains on the prosecution to prove the defendant’s guilt; the defendant does not have to prove his/her innocence.  However, where the defence seek to prove a defence such as self-defence, they need to provide some evidence to support it (see above).
In some circumstances, a refusal or failure to give evidence can  suggest to the jury and the court that the defendant is guilty of the crime he/she is charged with.  This is because it may lead the jury to think that the defendant is refusing to give evidence because he/she has no explanation for their actions other than being guilty.

Cross Examination – Cross Examination, what is it?

What are the Rules surrounding Evidence in Court?

When a witness or defendant is called to give evidence in court they will first be asked to give their ‘evidence-in-chief’, which is their account of what took place on behalf of the party who has called them. 

Following this the defendant or witness will be ‘cross examined’ by the opposing party. This is the opportunity for the opposing party to put their case to the witness ie their version of the events. Questions can also be asked of the witness about any relevant matter in issue in the trial; the answers to which are then evidence in the case and can undermine the opposing party’s case.

The main purpose of cross examination is to test the reliability and credibility of the evidence given by the witness, along with attempting to undermine their account and expose any weaknesses that may help the opposing party’s case.

Cross Examination – Cross Examination

What are the Rules surrounding Evidence in Court?

When a witness or defendant is called to give evidence in court they will first be asked to give their ‘evidence-in-chief’, which is their account of what took place on behalf of the party who has called them. 

Following this the defendant or witness will be ‘cross examined’ by the opposing party. This is the opportunity for the opposing party to put their case to the witness ie their version of the events. Questions can also be asked of the witness about any relevant matter in issue in the trial; the answers to which are then evidence in the case and can undermine the opposing party’s case.

The main purpose of cross examination is to test the reliability and credibility of the evidence given by the witness, along with attempting to undermine their account and expose any weaknesses that may help the opposing party’s case.

When during the Trial does Cross Examination Occur?

The cross examination occurs after the witness’s examination-in-chief. 

In trials involving only one defendant:

  • After a prosecution witness has given their evidence the defence advocate will cross examine the witness. Similarly, after a defendant or a defence witness has given their evidence-in-chief, the prosecution will then cross-examine the witness.

In trials involving two or more defendants:

  • When the prosecution witness has given their evidence the advocate for the first defendant will then cross examine the witness. Each advocate for the individual defendants will then take their turn to cross examine the witness. After a defendant or defence witness has given their evidence, the representatives for the remaining defendants can, if applicable, individually cross examine the defendant or defence witness. This is rare. When all defence advocates have finished their cross examination the prosecution advocate will cross examine last of all.
Cross Examination – Vulnerable Witnesses and Defendants

In order for a witness or defendant to go into the witness box and give evidence and be cross examined they must be deemed competent. A witness or defendant is competent if he or she is able to understand the questions being asked and give answers to them which can be understood. The assistance of intermediaries is available if required. 

Usual rules of cross examination do not apply to vulnerable witnesses/defendants. For instance, children or people with a mental or physical disability or disorder. The determination of competence must be done in the absence of the jury.

Cross Examination – Types of Questioning in Cross Examination

Cross examination consists mainly of ‘leading questions’ in contrast to examination-in-chief which largely consists of ‘open questions’ like ‘what happened then?’. Here are a few examples of the type of questions a witness/defendant may be asked in cross examination:

  • “You punched him, didn’t you?”
  • “And then you attacked him when he didn’t listen to you, didn’t you?”
  • “And you helped her take the money, didn’t you?”
  • “That’s why you threatened her, isn’t that right?”

The cross examination process does not include bullying or harassing the witness/defendant. Counsel should always be courteous to the witness, even when challenging their evidence. If this were to happen the judge would intervene. Questions can only be asked if they are relevant and appropriate. 

Examples where judges have criticised aspects of cross examination in the past are:

  • The questions are confusing or misleading;
  • Making comments rather than asking questions; 
  • Asking irrelevant questions;
  • Interrupting the witness before they have finished their answer.
Cross Examination – Advice for answering Cross Examination Questions

Cross examination consists mainly of ‘leading questions’ in contrast to examination-in-chief which largely consists of ‘open questions’ like ‘what happened then?’. Here are a few examples of the type of questions a witness/defendant may be asked in cross examination:

Firstly, a key to surviving cross examination is to fully prepare before going into the witness box. If you are a defendant this could require you to review all your previous statements including the transcript of your interview with the police. 

  • Obviously defendants and witnesses must answer truthfully and correctly during the trial but, most importantly, witnesses/defendants should listen carefully to the questions being asked. 
  • Defendants and witnesses should attempt to answer the exact question asked, giving only the exact answer without providing any unnecessary  information. 
  • Sometimes questions in cross examination only require the answer ‘yes’ or ‘no’. Remember the witness or defendant has already given their evidence in chief so often the cross examination only seeks to clarify what has gone before. 
  • If a witness or defendant wishes to amplify their answer they should say that they would like to explain further. The judge will decide if that is appropriate.
  • The most important people in the court room are the jury and they will be assessing not only what the defendant is saying but how they are saying it. The answers to the barrister’s questions should be addressed to the jury not the person cross examining.  
  • Defendants/witnesses should remain calm and avoid arguing with or being rude to the cross-examiner. After all the prosecution barrister is hardly likely to say, ‘oh yes, I am sorry, you are right and I am wrong’; a defendant should just maintain their account in the face of any hostile questioning.
  • If the answer to any question is ‘I don’t know’ or the defendant/witness is unsure, the correct answer is ‘I don’t know’ rather than attempting to guess. Everyone understands that there are matters that people don’t know or can’t remember.
Cross Examination – Representing Yourself

If you are representing yourself at a criminal trial without an advocate, i.e. a barrister or solicitor, there are restrictions on who you can cross examine yourself. 

Where these restrictions apply you need a qualified advocate to conduct the cross examination on your behalf.

Defendants in person are prohibited from cross examining:

  • Adult complainants in cases involving sexual offences;
  • Child complainants and child witnesses in: sexual offences; offences involving assault, injury/threat of injury; offences of child cruelty, kidnapping, false imprisonment, abduction.

The court also has an inherent power to prevent a defendant acting in person from cross-examining any witness. 

When these restrictions apply defendants who represent themselves in court must find a legal representative to conduct the cross-examination on their behalf. Alternatively, the court will appoint a legal representative to perform the cross examination for them where it considers it is in the interests of justice to do so.

Cross Examination – Cross Examination, what is it?

What are the Rules surrounding Evidence in Court?

When a witness or defendant is called to give evidence in court they will first be asked to give their ‘evidence-in-chief’, which is their account of what took place on behalf of the party who has called them. 

Following this the defendant or witness will be ‘cross examined’ by the opposing party. This is the opportunity for the opposing party to put their case to the witness ie their version of the events. Questions can also be asked of the witness about any relevant matter in issue in the trial; the answers to which are then evidence in the case and can undermine the opposing party’s case.

The main purpose of cross examination is to test the reliability and credibility of the evidence given by the witness, along with attempting to undermine their account and expose any weaknesses that may help the opposing party’s case.

Cross Examination – Cross Examination

What are the Rules surrounding Evidence in Court?

When a witness or defendant is called to give evidence in court they will first be asked to give their ‘evidence-in-chief’, which is their account of what took place on behalf of the party who has called them. 

Following this the defendant or witness will be ‘cross examined’ by the opposing party. This is the opportunity for the opposing party to put their case to the witness ie their version of the events. Questions can also be asked of the witness about any relevant matter in issue in the trial; the answers to which are then evidence in the case and can undermine the opposing party’s case.

The main purpose of cross examination is to test the reliability and credibility of the evidence given by the witness, along with attempting to undermine their account and expose any weaknesses that may help the opposing party’s case.

When during the Trial does Cross Examination Occur?

The cross examination occurs after the witness’s examination-in-chief. 

In trials involving only one defendant:

  • After a prosecution witness has given their evidence the defence advocate will cross examine the witness. Similarly, after a defendant or a defence witness has given their evidence-in-chief, the prosecution will then cross-examine the witness.

In trials involving two or more defendants:

  • When the prosecution witness has given their evidence the advocate for the first defendant will then cross examine the witness. Each advocate for the individual defendants will then take their turn to cross examine the witness. After a defendant or defence witness has given their evidence, the representatives for the remaining defendants can, if applicable, individually cross examine the defendant or defence witness. This is rare. When all defence advocates have finished their cross examination the prosecution advocate will cross examine last of all.
Cross Examination – Vulnerable Witnesses and Defendants

In order for a witness or defendant to go into the witness box and give evidence and be cross examined they must be deemed competent. A witness or defendant is competent if he or she is able to understand the questions being asked and give answers to them which can be understood. The assistance of intermediaries is available if required. 

Usual rules of cross examination do not apply to vulnerable witnesses/defendants. For instance, children or people with a mental or physical disability or disorder. The determination of competence must be done in the absence of the jury.

There are a number of ‘Special Measures’ that can be put into place in a court to help witnesses give evidence or be cross-examined. These are:

  • A live video link to the courtroom;
    • Giving evidence behind a screen so that the defendants and the public cannot see the witness;
    • Pre-recorded evidence-in-chief, pre-recorded cross-examination and re-examination which is carried out before the trial;
    • Removal of wigs and gowns to make the atmosphere less intimidating;
    • Using intermediaries to assist communication. These will be independent of any party. 

The following people can be considered automatically eligible or eligible to apply for these special measures:

  • Adult complainants (sex offence cases);
    • Children under 18;
    • People with a mental disorder, learning disability or physical disorder/disability;
    • Witnesses to slavery, servitude, forced or compulsory labour and human trafficking;
    • Witnesses who are suffering from fear or distress.
Cross Examination – Types of Questioning in Cross Examination

Cross examination consists mainly of ‘leading questions’ in contrast to examination-in-chief which largely consists of ‘open questions’ like ‘what happened then?’. Here are a few examples of the type of questions a witness/defendant may be asked in cross examination:

  • “You punched him, didn’t you?”
  • “And then you attacked him when he didn’t listen to you, didn’t you?”
  • “And you helped her take the money, didn’t you?”
  • “That’s why you threatened her, isn’t that right?”

The cross examination process does not include bullying or harassing the witness/defendant. Counsel should always be courteous to the witness, even when challenging their evidence. If this were to happen the judge would intervene. Questions can only be asked if they are relevant and appropriate. 

Examples where judges have criticised aspects of cross examination in the past are:

  • The questions are confusing or misleading;
  • Making comments rather than asking questions; 
  • Asking irrelevant questions;
  • Interrupting the witness before they have finished their answer.
Cross Examination – Advice for answering Cross Examination Questions

Cross examination consists mainly of ‘leading questions’ in contrast to examination-in-chief which largely consists of ‘open questions’ like ‘what happened then?’. Here are a few examples of the type of questions a witness/defendant may be asked in cross examination:

Firstly, a key to surviving cross examination is to fully prepare before going into the witness box. If you are a defendant this could require you to review all your previous statements including the transcript of your interview with the police. 

  • Obviously defendants and witnesses must answer truthfully and correctly during the trial but, most importantly, witnesses/defendants should listen carefully to the questions being asked. 
  • Defendants and witnesses should attempt to answer the exact question asked, giving only the exact answer without providing any unnecessary  information. 
  • Sometimes questions in cross examination only require the answer ‘yes’ or ‘no’. Remember the witness or defendant has already given their evidence in chief so often the cross examination only seeks to clarify what has gone before. 
  • If a witness or defendant wishes to amplify their answer they should say that they would like to explain further. The judge will decide if that is appropriate.
  • The most important people in the court room are the jury and they will be assessing not only what the defendant is saying but how they are saying it. The answers to the barrister’s questions should be addressed to the jury not the person cross examining.  
  • Defendants/witnesses should remain calm and avoid arguing with or being rude to the cross-examiner. After all the prosecution barrister is hardly likely to say, ‘oh yes, I am sorry, you are right and I am wrong’; a defendant should just maintain their account in the face of any hostile questioning.
  • If the answer to any question is ‘I don’t know’ or the defendant/witness is unsure, the correct answer is ‘I don’t know’ rather than attempting to guess. Everyone understands that there are matters that people don’t know or can’t remember.
Cross Examination – Representing Yourself

If you are representing yourself at a criminal trial without an advocate, i.e. a barrister or solicitor, there are restrictions on who you can cross examine yourself. 

Where these restrictions apply you need a qualified advocate to conduct the cross examination on your behalf.

Defendants in person are prohibited from cross examining:

  • Adult complainants in cases involving sexual offences;
  • Child complainants and child witnesses in: sexual offences; offences involving assault, injury/threat of injury; offences of child cruelty, kidnapping, false imprisonment, abduction.

The court also has an inherent power to prevent a defendant acting in person from cross-examining any witness. 

When these restrictions apply defendants who represent themselves in court must find a legal representative to conduct the cross-examination on their behalf. Alternatively, the court will appoint a legal representative to perform the cross examination for them where it considers it is in the interests of justice to do so.

Cross Examination – Cross Examination, what is it?

What are the Rules surrounding Evidence in Court?

When a witness or defendant is called to give evidence in court they will first be asked to give their ‘evidence-in-chief’, which is their account of what took place on behalf of the party who has called them. 

Following this the defendant or witness will be ‘cross examined’ by the opposing party. This is the opportunity for the opposing party to put their case to the witness ie their version of the events. Questions can also be asked of the witness about any relevant matter in issue in the trial; the answers to which are then evidence in the case and can undermine the opposing party’s case.

The main purpose of cross examination is to test the reliability and credibility of the evidence given by the witness, along with attempting to undermine their account and expose any weaknesses that may help the opposing party’s case.

Cross Examination – Cross Examination

What are the Rules surrounding Evidence in Court?

When a witness or defendant is called to give evidence in court they will first be asked to give their ‘evidence-in-chief’, which is their account of what took place on behalf of the party who has called them. 

Following this the defendant or witness will be ‘cross examined’ by the opposing party. This is the opportunity for the opposing party to put their case to the witness ie their version of the events. Questions can also be asked of the witness about any relevant matter in issue in the trial; the answers to which are then evidence in the case and can undermine the opposing party’s case.

The main purpose of cross examination is to test the reliability and credibility of the evidence given by the witness, along with attempting to undermine their account and expose any weaknesses that may help the opposing party’s case.

When during the Trial does Cross Examination Occur?

The cross examination occurs after the witness’s examination-in-chief. 

In trials involving only one defendant:

  • After a prosecution witness has given their evidence the defence advocate will cross examine the witness. Similarly, after a defendant or a defence witness has given their evidence-in-chief, the prosecution will then cross-examine the witness.

In trials involving two or more defendants:

  • When the prosecution witness has given their evidence the advocate for the first defendant will then cross examine the witness. Each advocate for the individual defendants will then take their turn to cross examine the witness. After a defendant or defence witness has given their evidence, the representatives for the remaining defendants can, if applicable, individually cross examine the defendant or defence witness. This is rare. When all defence advocates have finished their cross examination the prosecution advocate will cross examine last of all.
Cross Examination – Vulnerable Witnesses and Defendants

In order for a witness or defendant to go into the witness box and give evidence and be cross examined they must be deemed competent. A witness or defendant is competent if he or she is able to understand the questions being asked and give answers to them which can be understood. The assistance of intermediaries is available if required. 

Usual rules of cross examination do not apply to vulnerable witnesses/defendants. For instance, children or people with a mental or physical disability or disorder. The determination of competence must be done in the absence of the jury.

There are a number of ‘Special Measures’ that can be put into place in a court to help witnesses give evidence or be cross-examined. These are:

  • A live video link to the courtroom;
    • Giving evidence behind a screen so that the defendants and the public cannot see the witness;
    • Pre-recorded evidence-in-chief, pre-recorded cross-examination and re-examination which is carried out before the trial;
    • Removal of wigs and gowns to make the atmosphere less intimidating;
    • Using intermediaries to assist communication. These will be independent of any party. 

The following people can be considered automatically eligible or eligible to apply for these special measures:

  • Adult complainants (sex offence cases);
    • Children under 18;
    • People with a mental disorder, learning disability or physical disorder/disability;
    • Witnesses to slavery, servitude, forced or compulsory labour and human trafficking;
    • Witnesses who are suffering from fear or distress.
Cross Examination – Types of Questioning in Cross Examination

Cross examination consists mainly of ‘leading questions’ in contrast to examination-in-chief which largely consists of ‘open questions’ like ‘what happened then?’. Here are a few examples of the type of questions a witness/defendant may be asked in cross examination:

  • “You punched him, didn’t you?”
  • “And then you attacked him when he didn’t listen to you, didn’t you?”
  • “And you helped her take the money, didn’t you?”
  • “That’s why you threatened her, isn’t that right?”

The cross examination process does not include bullying or harassing the witness/defendant. Counsel should always be courteous to the witness, even when challenging their evidence. If this were to happen the judge would intervene. Questions can only be asked if they are relevant and appropriate. 

Examples where judges have criticised aspects of cross examination in the past are:

  • The questions are confusing or misleading;
  • Making comments rather than asking questions; 
  • Asking irrelevant questions;
  • Interrupting the witness before they have finished their answer.
Cross Examination – Advice for answering Cross Examination Questions

Cross examination consists mainly of ‘leading questions’ in contrast to examination-in-chief which largely consists of ‘open questions’ like ‘what happened then?’. Here are a few examples of the type of questions a witness/defendant may be asked in cross examination:

Firstly, a key to surviving cross examination is to fully prepare before going into the witness box. If you are a defendant this could require you to review all your previous statements including the transcript of your interview with the police. 

  • Obviously defendants and witnesses must answer truthfully and correctly during the trial but, most importantly, witnesses/defendants should listen carefully to the questions being asked. 
  • Defendants and witnesses should attempt to answer the exact question asked, giving only the exact answer without providing any unnecessary  information. 
  • Sometimes questions in cross examination only require the answer ‘yes’ or ‘no’. Remember the witness or defendant has already given their evidence in chief so often the cross examination only seeks to clarify what has gone before. 
  • If a witness or defendant wishes to amplify their answer they should say that they would like to explain further. The judge will decide if that is appropriate.
  • The most important people in the court room are the jury and they will be assessing not only what the defendant is saying but how they are saying it. The answers to the barrister’s questions should be addressed to the jury not the person cross examining.  
  • Defendants/witnesses should remain calm and avoid arguing with or being rude to the cross-examiner. After all the prosecution barrister is hardly likely to say, ‘oh yes, I am sorry, you are right and I am wrong’; a defendant should just maintain their account in the face of any hostile questioning.
  • If the answer to any question is ‘I don’t know’ or the defendant/witness is unsure, the correct answer is ‘I don’t know’ rather than attempting to guess. Everyone understands that there are matters that people don’t know or can’t remember.
Cross Examination – Representing Yourself

If you are representing yourself at a criminal trial without an advocate, i.e. a barrister or solicitor, there are restrictions on who you can cross examine yourself. 

Where these restrictions apply you need a qualified advocate to conduct the cross examination on your behalf.

Defendants in person are prohibited from cross examining:

  • Adult complainants in cases involving sexual offences;
  • Child complainants and child witnesses in: sexual offences; offences involving assault, injury/threat of injury; offences of child cruelty, kidnapping, false imprisonment, abduction.

The court also has an inherent power to prevent a defendant acting in person from cross-examining any witness. 

When these restrictions apply defendants who represent themselves in court must find a legal representative to conduct the cross-examination on their behalf. Alternatively, the court will appoint a legal representative to perform the cross examination for them where it considers it is in the interests of justice to do so.

Decision

After listening to all the evidence in a case the District Judge or a jury, in a Crown Court, will decide on whether the defendant is guilty or not guilty. If the defendant is found guilty, the judge in the case will decide the sentence.

The verdict

If a defendant is found not guilty, by the magistrate, jury or judge, they will be ‘acquitted’ and free to go.

If the defendant pleads guilty or is found guilty by the judge or jury, they are convicted and the judge will pass sentence.

 Jury Failed to Reach a Verdict

If the jury fails to reach a verdict (a hung jury), a decision needs to be taken about seeking a retrial.

 There is a presumption that the prosecution will seek a re-trial where a jury fails to agree on a verdict at the first trial. The prosecution would have to consider whether there is still a realistic prospect of conviction, whether any material changes occurred during the course of the first trial and whether witnesses were willing, and available, to give evidence again. 

Public interest factors to take into account would include the seriousness of the offence, the length of time since the offence was committed, the likely delay until the case can be re-tried, the likely sentence if the defendant is ultimately convicted and the interests and views of any victim or deceased’s family. 

The prosecution will usually seek an adjournment to allow consideration of the question of a retrial. The prosecuting advocate should prepare a written opinion and you should seek advice from Legal Adviser’s office. If the application for an adjournment is refused, prosecuting advocates should request a re-trial. It should be made clear to the court and the defence that the decision will be subject to review.

Where two juries fail to reach a verdict, the presumption is that the prosecution will not seek a third trial. The courts power to order a third trial had to be exercised with extreme caution and will be applied to a very small number of cases where the crime was extremely grave and where the evidence that the defendant had committed the crime, on any fair-minded objective judgment, remained very powerful. 

Decision

After listening to all the evidence in a case the District Judge or a jury, in a Crown Court, will decide on whether the defendant is guilty or not guilty. If the defendant is found guilty, the judge in the case will decide the sentence.

The verdict

If a defendant is found not guilty, by the magistrate, jury or judge, they will be ‘acquitted’ and free to go.

If the defendant pleads guilty or is found guilty by the judge or jury, they are convicted and the judge will pass sentence.

 Jury Failed to Reach a Verdict

If the jury fails to reach a verdict (a hung jury), a decision needs to be taken about seeking a retrial.

 There is a presumption that the prosecution will seek a re-trial where a jury fails to agree on a verdict at the first trial. The prosecution would have to consider whether there is still a realistic prospect of conviction, whether any material changes occurred during the course of the first trial and whether witnesses were willing, and available, to give evidence again. 

Public interest factors to take into account would include the seriousness of the offence, the length of time since the offence was committed, the likely delay until the case can be re-tried, the likely sentence if the defendant is ultimately convicted and the interests and views of any victim or deceased’s family. 

The prosecution will usually seek an adjournment to allow consideration of the question of a retrial. The prosecuting advocate should prepare a written opinion and you should seek advice from Legal Adviser’s office. If the application for an adjournment is refused, prosecuting advocates should request a re-trial. It should be made clear to the court and the defence that the decision will be subject to review.

Where two juries fail to reach a verdict, the presumption is that the prosecution will not seek a third trial. The courts power to order a third trial had to be exercised with extreme caution and will be applied to a very small number of cases where the crime was extremely grave and where the evidence that the defendant had committed the crime, on any fair-minded objective judgment, remained very powerful. 

Decision

After listening to all the evidence in a case the District Judge or a jury, in a Crown Court, will decide on whether the defendant is guilty or not guilty. If the defendant is found guilty, the judge in the case will decide the sentence.

The verdict

If a defendant is found not guilty, by the magistrate, jury or judge, they will be ‘acquitted’ and free to go.

If the defendant pleads guilty or is found guilty by the judge or jury, they are convicted and the judge will pass sentence.

 Jury Failed to Reach a Verdict

If the jury fails to reach a verdict (a hung jury), a decision needs to be taken about seeking a retrial.

 There is a presumption that the prosecution will seek a re-trial where a jury fails to agree on a verdict at the first trial. The prosecution would have to consider whether there is still a realistic prospect of conviction, whether any material changes occurred during the course of the first trial and whether witnesses were willing, and available, to give evidence again. 

Public interest factors to take into account would include the seriousness of the offence, the length of time since the offence was committed, the likely delay until the case can be re-tried, the likely sentence if the defendant is ultimately convicted and the interests and views of any victim or deceased’s family. 

The prosecution will usually seek an adjournment to allow consideration of the question of a retrial. The prosecuting advocate should prepare a written opinion and you should seek advice from Legal Adviser’s office. If the application for an adjournment is refused, prosecuting advocates should request a re-trial. It should be made clear to the court and the defence that the decision will be subject to review.

Where two juries fail to reach a verdict, the presumption is that the prosecution will not seek a third trial. The courts power to order a third trial had to be exercised with extreme caution and will be applied to a very small number of cases where the crime was extremely grave and where the evidence that the defendant had committed the crime, on any fair-minded objective judgment, remained very powerful. 

Sentencing – Before Sentencing

What happens at a sentencing hearing – Before Sentencing

Sentencing will occur at the Magistrates or Crown Court when the Defendant has been found guilty or has pleaded guilty. 

It is also worth noting that, in some circumstances, those who have not been found guilty may receive an order from the Court but will not be formally sentenced. 

In a case where the Defendant has pleaded guilty, but does not accept the prosecution’s allegations in full, then there will need to be an ‘agreed basis of plea’ before the sentencing hearing can take place. The Defendant’s representatives will draft the basis and communicate what is accepted by the Defendant. This must be provided to the prosecution in writing. The prosecution may reject or accept the basis of plea. If they accept the basis, it will be signed by both the prosecution and the Defendant, before then being provided to the Judge prior to or at the sentencing hearing. If the prosecution reject the basis then it is for the Judge to decide if the basis can be accepted or if the difference between the two accounts is such that it would make a big difference to sentence. If the Judge rejects the basis then a ‘Newton Hearing’ will be required to determine on what basis the Defendant will be sentenced. If the basis is accepted by the Judge, then the Defendant will be sentenced on his/her account of the allegations. 

Where the Judge deems necessary, normally in a case where the Defendant is likely to receive a sentence involving imprisonment or community service, a pre-sentence report will be prepared by a probation officer.

The Defendant will meet with the probation officer before the sentence hearing in order to discuss the offence(s) and any personal circumstances that may affect the sentence. This is an opportunity for the Defendant to discuss anything that they feel may have an impact on the sentence to be passed. The probation officer will use this information to make recommendations to the Court as to sentence. It should be noted however that this report is advisory only and is not legally binding upon the Judge.

The pre-sentence report should be written up and supplied to the Judge, defence and prosecution at an early opportunity. The Defendant is entitled to read the pre-sentence report. 

Sentencing – Opening

What happens at a sentencing hearing – Opening

In the Magistrates Court the Legal Advisor will state the charge and whether the Defendant has pleaded guilty or been found guilty at trial. In the Crown Court, prosecution counsel will outline the offence for which the Defendant is to be sentenced. 

The prosecution will then summarise the case against the Defendant. The prosecution will refer the Court to the sentencing guidelines for the offence committed. The sentencing guidelines are a document used by the Courts which helps determine the appropriate sentence for a particular offence. It is important to note that the sentencing guidelines are advisory only and a Judge may choose to go above or below the guideline for that particular sentence depending on the specific case. The prosecution will make clear what category they believe the offence to be and will also bring to the attention of the Court any ‘aggravating factors.’ Aggravating factors are circumstances that make the offence appear more severe. 

There may be aggravating factors in relation to the offence itself, such as serious injury, high level of profit made from the offence and vulnerability of the victim. 

There may also be aggravating factors in relation to the Defendant such as a high number of previous convictions, a lack of remorse and whether the offence occurred whilst the Defendant was on bail for other offences.

If sentence takes place immediately following a trial for the offence(s) then the prosecution will not need to open the facts as the Court will have heard the evidence, but the prosecution will still refer the Court to the sentencing guidelines and outline the aggravating factors. 

The prosecution may also refer to statements provided by those affected by the crime; these are known as victim personal statements. The victim may provide a statement detailing the impact that the crime has had on them. Similarly, a police officer may provide a statement on behalf of the community or a representative from a business may provide one on behalf of any businesses affected by the crime; these are known as business impact statements. These statements should be disclosed to the Defendant before the sentencing hearing and will be provided to the Court in the Sentencing Bundle. 

Sentencing – Previous Convictions

What happens at a sentencing hearing – Previous Convictions

If the Defendant has had any previous convictions recorded against them, the prosecution will disclose them to the Court. The age and relevance of the convictions will be taken into account by the Judge when determining the appropriate sentence. Previous convictions can also be an indicator of the Defendant’s character. 

If the Defendant has any other offences that they would like to have taken into consideration (TIC’s), they should mention these to their solicitor or advocate as early as possible and certainly in advance of any sentence hearing. Contact can then be made with the officer in the case with a view to enabling this to happen.  

Sentencing – Ancillary Matter

What happens at a sentencing hearing – Ancillary matters

The prosecution will then bring up any ancillary matters that need to be taken into account by the Judge. Ancillary matters are other factors outside of the sentence that need to be settled between the parties involved. Examples of ancillary matters are the prosecution’s costs, compensation for the victim or restraining orders. 

Sentencing – Defence Plea in Mitigation

What happens at a sentencing hearing – Defence Plea in Mitigation

The defence will then have the opportunity to ‘mitigate’, that is to outline any mitigating circumstances that may affect the sentence. A mitigating circumstance is something that makes the offence appear less serious.

There may be mitigating circumstances in relation to the offence itself, such as the level of involvement of the offender and an explanation or motive for the offence. 

There may also be mitigating circumstances in relation to the offender, such as their character, lack of previous convictions, facts relating to their personal life, background information and remorse expressed for the offence(s) committed. 

Furthermore, the defence will make reference to the sentencing guidelines. If the defence feel that the sentence falls into a category within the sentencing guidelines that is lower than that submitted by the prosecution, they may present this argument to the Judge. 

Finally, if the Defendant has pleaded guilty the defence will argue that a reduction in the sentence would be appropriate as it is within the public interest, demonstrates remorse and has reduced the effects of the offence on the victim by avoiding a lengthy trial. This is called credit for plea.

Sentencing – Passing the Sentence

What happens at a sentencing hearing – Passing the Sentence

The sentence will be given by the Judge, Magistrate or District Judge. Juries do not take part in the sentencing process, although if sentenced directly after a trial, they may be present in Court. Furthermore the prosecution cannot request any specific sentence be passed. 

The Judge, Magistrate or District Judge may retire to consider the sentence or give the sentence immediately after hearing from the prosecution and the defence.  When the Judge passes the sentence, they need to specify what exactly the sentence is and explain how they have reached their decision. 

Sentencing – Before Sentencing

What happens at a sentencing hearing – Before Sentencing

Sentencing will occur at the Magistrates or Crown Court when the Defendant has been found guilty or has pleaded guilty. 

If a Defendant has a mental impairment, this should always be disclosed to the Court but may not always affect the sentence provided; whether it does or not will depend on how the mental impairment affected the Defendant, together with the connection between the mental impairment and the offending behaviour. The Defence should raise the issue of the mental impairment prior to sentence. If a pre-sentence report is ordered, this should also be mentioned to the probation officer. 

The defence may refer the Court to the guidelines for ‘sentencing offenders with mental disorders, developmental disorders and neurological impairments’. These guidelines help the Court in assessing culpability and sentence, whilst taking into account any mental impairment. 

If the Defendant is suffering from a mental impairment at the date of the sentencing hearing, the Court may consider obtaining a medical report from a specialist medical professional before passing sentence. However, it is not always necessary to obtain medical evidence before sentencing and this is considered on a case-by-case basis. 

It may be helpful to provide medical documentation, such as medical records and evidence of a formal diagnosis. These can be considered by the Court prior to passing sentence. 

When a Defendant with a mental impairment receives a custodial sentence, then all the medical evidence that has been disclosed to the Court, together with adequate information regarding the mental impairment, should be forwarded to the prison so that the needs of the Defendant can be catered for. 

It is also worth noting that, in some circumstances, those who have not been found guilty may receive an order from the Court but will not be formally sentenced. 

In a case where the Defendant has pleaded guilty, but does not accept the prosecution’s allegations in full, then there will need to be an ‘agreed basis of plea’ before the sentencing hearing can take place. The Defendant’s representatives will draft the basis and communicate what is accepted by the Defendant. This must be provided to the prosecution in writing. The prosecution may reject or accept the basis of plea. If they accept the basis, it will be signed by both the prosecution and the Defendant, before then being provided to the Judge prior to or at the sentencing hearing. If the prosecution reject the basis then it is for the Judge to decide if the basis can be accepted or if the difference between the two accounts is such that it would make a big difference to sentence. If the Judge rejects the basis then a ‘Newton Hearing’ will be required to determine on what basis the Defendant will be sentenced. If the basis is accepted by the Judge, then the Defendant will be sentenced on his/her account of the allegations. 

Where the Judge deems necessary, normally in a case where the Defendant is likely to receive a sentence involving imprisonment or community service, a pre-sentence report will be prepared by a probation officer.

The Defendant will meet with the probation officer before the sentence hearing in order to discuss the offence(s) and any personal circumstances that may affect the sentence. This is an opportunity for the Defendant to discuss anything that they feel may have an impact on the sentence to be passed. The probation officer will use this information to make recommendations to the Court as to sentence. It should be noted however that this report is advisory only and is not legally binding upon the Judge.

The pre-sentence report should be written up and supplied to the Judge, defence and prosecution at an early opportunity. The Defendant is entitled to read the pre-sentence report. 

Sentencing – Opening

What happens at a sentencing hearing – Opening

In the Magistrates Court the Legal Advisor will state the charge and whether the Defendant has pleaded guilty or been found guilty at trial. In the Crown Court, prosecution counsel will outline the offence for which the Defendant is to be sentenced. 

The prosecution will then summarise the case against the Defendant. The prosecution will refer the Court to the sentencing guidelines for the offence committed. The sentencing guidelines are a document used by the Courts which helps determine the appropriate sentence for a particular offence. It is important to note that the sentencing guidelines are advisory only and a Judge may choose to go above or below the guideline for that particular sentence depending on the specific case. The prosecution will make clear what category they believe the offence to be and will also bring to the attention of the Court any ‘aggravating factors.’ Aggravating factors are circumstances that make the offence appear more severe. 

There may be aggravating factors in relation to the offence itself, such as serious injury, high level of profit made from the offence and vulnerability of the victim. 

There may also be aggravating factors in relation to the Defendant such as a high number of previous convictions, a lack of remorse and whether the offence occurred whilst the Defendant was on bail for other offences.

If sentence takes place immediately following a trial for the offence(s) then the prosecution will not need to open the facts as the Court will have heard the evidence, but the prosecution will still refer the Court to the sentencing guidelines and outline the aggravating factors. 

The prosecution may also refer to statements provided by those affected by the crime; these are known as victim personal statements. The victim may provide a statement detailing the impact that the crime has had on them. Similarly, a police officer may provide a statement on behalf of the community or a representative from a business may provide one on behalf of any businesses affected by the crime; these are known as business impact statements. These statements should be disclosed to the Defendant before the sentencing hearing and will be provided to the Court in the Sentencing Bundle. 

Sentencing – Previous Convictions

What happens at a sentencing hearing – Previous Convictions

If the Defendant has had any previous convictions recorded against them, the prosecution will disclose them to the Court. The age and relevance of the convictions will be taken into account by the Judge when determining the appropriate sentence. Previous convictions can also be an indicator of the Defendant’s character. 

If the Defendant has any other offences that they would like to have taken into consideration (TIC’s), they should mention these to their solicitor or advocate as early as possible and certainly in advance of any sentence hearing. Contact can then be made with the officer in the case with a view to enabling this to happen.  

Sentencing – Ancillary Matter

What happens at a sentencing hearing – Ancillary matters

The prosecution will then bring up any ancillary matters that need to be taken into account by the Judge. Ancillary matters are other factors outside of the sentence that need to be settled between the parties involved. Examples of ancillary matters are the prosecution’s costs, compensation for the victim or restraining orders. 

Sentencing – Defence Plea in Mitigation

What happens at a sentencing hearing – Defence Plea in Mitigation

The defence will then have the opportunity to ‘mitigate’, that is to outline any mitigating circumstances that may affect the sentence. A mitigating circumstance is something that makes the offence appear less serious.

There may be mitigating circumstances in relation to the offence itself, such as the level of involvement of the offender and an explanation or motive for the offence. 

There may also be mitigating circumstances in relation to the offender, such as their character, lack of previous convictions, facts relating to their personal life, background information and remorse expressed for the offence(s) committed. 

Furthermore, the defence will make reference to the sentencing guidelines. If the defence feel that the sentence falls into a category within the sentencing guidelines that is lower than that submitted by the prosecution, they may present this argument to the Judge. 

Finally, if the Defendant has pleaded guilty the defence will argue that a reduction in the sentence would be appropriate as it is within the public interest, demonstrates remorse and has reduced the effects of the offence on the victim by avoiding a lengthy trial. This is called credit for plea.

Sentencing – Passing the Sentence

What happens at a sentencing hearing – Passing the Sentence

The sentence will be given by the Judge, Magistrate or District Judge. Juries do not take part in the sentencing process, although if sentenced directly after a trial, they may be present in Court. Furthermore the prosecution cannot request any specific sentence be passed. 

The Judge, Magistrate or District Judge may retire to consider the sentence or give the sentence immediately after hearing from the prosecution and the defence.  When the Judge passes the sentence, they need to specify what exactly the sentence is and explain how they have reached their decision. 

Sentencing – Before Sentencing

What happens at a sentencing hearing – Before Sentencing

The sentencing takes place in the Youth Court, but this is restricted to more trivial and less serious offences. The judges and barristers would not be wearing wigs as it is less formal but defendants below the age of 16 would need the presence of a parent or guardian. The sentencing of more serious offences such as murder or rape would be dealt with in the Crown Court. 

 If you are under 18 does the defendant need to be in presence with an adult?

Yes, the minor who is between the age of 10-17 would have the presence of an adult in such circumstances.

Most offenses of those below age 17 are heard at the Youth Court rather than the Magistrates or Crown Court. The Magistrate providing the sentencing will have special training on how to handle Youth Justice matter. 

The type of sentencing received by youths is different. The Sentencing Guidelines are not used for youths and an alternative framework is considered. This is because the focus for Youth Justice in the UK is to prevent re-offending rather than punishment. The court is less likely to consider custodial sentences for youths due to this. However, those who do receive custodial sentencing will be sentenced to go to a Young Offender Institution rather than a prison. 

Sentencing – Opening

What happens at a sentencing hearing – Opening

In the Magistrates Court the Legal Advisor will state the charge and whether the Defendant has pleaded guilty or been found guilty at trial. In the Crown Court, prosecution counsel will outline the offence for which the Defendant is to be sentenced. 

The prosecution will then summarise the case against the Defendant. The prosecution will refer the Court to the sentencing guidelines for the offence committed. The sentencing guidelines are a document used by the Courts which helps determine the appropriate sentence for a particular offence. It is important to note that the sentencing guidelines are advisory only and a Judge may choose to go above or below the guideline for that particular sentence depending on the specific case. The prosecution will make clear what category they believe the offence to be and will also bring to the attention of the Court any ‘aggravating factors.’ Aggravating factors are circumstances that make the offence appear more severe. 

There may be aggravating factors in relation to the offence itself, such as serious injury, high level of profit made from the offence and vulnerability of the victim. 

There may also be aggravating factors in relation to the Defendant such as a high number of previous convictions, a lack of remorse and whether the offence occurred whilst the Defendant was on bail for other offences.

If sentence takes place immediately following a trial for the offence(s) then the prosecution will not need to open the facts as the Court will have heard the evidence, but the prosecution will still refer the Court to the sentencing guidelines and outline the aggravating factors. 

The prosecution may also refer to statements provided by those affected by the crime; these are known as victim personal statements. The victim may provide a statement detailing the impact that the crime has had on them. Similarly, a police officer may provide a statement on behalf of the community or a representative from a business may provide one on behalf of any businesses affected by the crime; these are known as business impact statements. These statements should be disclosed to the Defendant before the sentencing hearing and will be provided to the Court in the Sentencing Bundle. 

Sentencing – Previous Convictions

What happens at a sentencing hearing – Previous Convictions

If the Defendant has had any previous convictions recorded against them, the prosecution will disclose them to the Court. The age and relevance of the convictions will be taken into account by the Judge when determining the appropriate sentence. Previous convictions can also be an indicator of the Defendant’s character. 

If the Defendant has any other offences that they would like to have taken into consideration (TIC’s), they should mention these to their solicitor or advocate as early as possible and certainly in advance of any sentence hearing. Contact can then be made with the officer in the case with a view to enabling this to happen.  

Sentencing – Ancillary Matter

What happens at a sentencing hearing – Ancillary matters

The prosecution will then bring up any ancillary matters that need to be taken into account by the Judge. Ancillary matters are other factors outside of the sentence that need to be settled between the parties involved. Examples of ancillary matters are the prosecution’s costs, compensation for the victim or restraining orders. 

Sentencing – Defence Plea in Mitigation

What happens at a sentencing hearing – Defence Plea in Mitigation

The defence will then have the opportunity to ‘mitigate’, that is to outline any mitigating circumstances that may affect the sentence. A mitigating circumstance is something that makes the offence appear less serious.

There may be mitigating circumstances in relation to the offence itself, such as the level of involvement of the offender and an explanation or motive for the offence. 

There may also be mitigating circumstances in relation to the offender, such as their character, lack of previous convictions, facts relating to their personal life, background information and remorse expressed for the offence(s) committed. 

Furthermore, the defence will make reference to the sentencing guidelines. If the defence feel that the sentence falls into a category within the sentencing guidelines that is lower than that submitted by the prosecution, they may present this argument to the Judge. 

Finally, if the Defendant has pleaded guilty the defence will argue that a reduction in the sentence would be appropriate as it is within the public interest, demonstrates remorse and has reduced the effects of the offence on the victim by avoiding a lengthy trial. This is called credit for plea.

Sentencing – Passing the Sentence

What happens at a sentencing hearing – Passing the Sentence

The sentence will be given by the Judge, Magistrate or District Judge. Juries do not take part in the sentencing process, although if sentenced directly after a trial, they may be present in Court. Furthermore the prosecution cannot request any specific sentence be passed. 

The Judge, Magistrate or District Judge may retire to consider the sentence or give the sentence immediately after hearing from the prosecution and the defence.  When the Judge passes the sentence, they need to specify what exactly the sentence is and explain how they have reached their decision. 

Appeal

For those who do not win their case, there is normally a right of appeal. However, this is based purely on the decision reached in the case.

Following a criminal conviction and sentence in either a Magistrates court or a Crown Court, the solicitor and/or barrister will provide advice as to whether or not, they feel that a successful appeal can be put forward to the appellate courts.

If there are no grounds for an appeal then that advice will generally be verbal. If it is felt that there are grounds for an appeal against either the conviction, sentence or both, then the barrister (referred to as Counsel) will prepare such an advice in writing along with those grounds.

It is not possible for court staff or other government officials to review a judgment made by the courts. 

Before you lodge an appeal, you are strongly urged to seek legal advice as to the procedure, merit and cost

Appeal – Appealing a Sentence/Conviction from a Magistrate’s Court

Appeals against the decision of the magistrates’ court in criminal cases are heard by the Crown Court. The appeal is made to the magistrates’ court and the papers sent by the magistrates’ court staff to the Crown Court.

Appeal – Appealing a Sentence/Conviction from a Crown Court

To appeal against a criminal conviction or sentence handed down by the Crown Court you need to seek permission from a judge. Appeal applications and applications for leave to appeal against decisions made by the Crown Court are dealt with by the Court of Appeal Criminal Division.

Appeal – Grounds for an Appeal
  1. the appeal must have a real prospect of success; and
  2. there is some other compelling reason why the appeal should be granted.

It is necessary to prove that there was some kind of misunderstanding of the law, evidence or facts. Sometimes one of the parties obtains fresh evidence; this is not normally allowed by an appeal court, but if the party can show that this fresh evidence was relevant and credible but not possible to be obtained for the hearing at a lower court, it will be allowed.

Appeal – Time Scale

Any crown court appeal application must usually be submitted within 28 days of either:

  • the date you were convicted if you’re appealing against your conviction;
  • the date you were sentenced if you’re appealing against your sentence.

There are exceptions to this rule where a request can be made for the court to allow an appeal ‘out of time’ (this is known as ‘Leave to Appeal out of Time’). 

This type of application must be justified and the full reasons why the application is out of time must be explained.

Appeal – Process

The above application to appeal either the conviction and/or sentence is known as an application for ‘Leave to Appeal’ and that application is considered by a single Appeal Judge. They decide whether or not the application has a reasonable chance of succeeding.

 The single Judge is there to filter out all of the applications that will probably end up being unsuccessful anyway. All applications will go through this process and the single Judge will always provide reasons for the decision in writing.

If an application for Leave to Appeal is granted (by the single Judge) the application will go on to the ‘Full Court of Appeal’. This is where the application will be heard in full, witnesses can give evidence and the reasons (known as arguments) can be advanced. The full Court will then make its decision and the application will be granted or refused.

If the application/appeal is granted, there are a number of options open to the appellate court:

  • In the case of an appeal against sentence, a reduction of sentence can be made.
  • In the case of an appeal against conviction, the court can ‘quash’ (overturn) the conviction completely or they can order a re-trial.

If the appeal court refuses permission to appeal, strikes out your notice or dismisses your appeal, and it feels that the application, the notice or the appeal is totally without merit, it must record this and consider whether it is appropriate to make a civil restraint order.

Appeal – No Grounds of Appeal

If the solicitor/ barrister advises that there are unlikely to be any grounds of appeal there are a few options. If you feel strongly that you have grounds to appeal, you can make an application yourself. You will need to obtain a copy of the application (Form NG) and fully set out your reasons.

Alternatively, a person who has been convicted can seek a second opinion from another lawyer. They need to write to a solicitor who will then send you some forms to sign called CDS1 and CDS2. Once the solicitor has these forms back, he or she will usually be able to come and see the client (if he or she is in prison) to discuss your case and the options available. The client’s reasons can be explored and he will receive a second opinion in writing. If a solicitor thinks that the appeal may have a chance, then he or she will begin to prepare and investigate the appeal properly, and also prepare justification for the application being out of time if it is longer than 28 days since sentence. This will be the same process whether it is out of time by a week or out of time by a year or longer.

Appeal – Rejected Applications

In the case where Grounds of Appeal has been rejected at the first stage (The Single Judge Stage) there is an option available to request that the application is still put forward to the full Court regardless. However, this option needs to be considered very carefully as it can carry harsh penalties if the appeal is ultimately refused. Such penalties include the potential for any time already spent in custody (up until the point of the refusal by the Court of Appeal) to not be counted as part of the sentence. There is a risk that you would have to start your sentence again from scratch. This is unlikely to be the case if Counsel advised that your application should still be put forward despite a rejection by the Single Judge, but it does happen.

Appeal – Full Court of Appeal Refusals

If an application reaches the Full Appellate Court and is not successful, there are still options available should you disagree with the Court’s decision. 

One such avenue is to submit an application to the Criminal Cases Review Commission (C.C.R.C) who will then appoint a case worker to investigate your concerns. In the United Kingdom, this is generally the only way that you can have your case referred back to the appellate courts.

You cannot make an application to the C.C.R.C until you have first been rejected by the Court of Appeal.

Appeal – Appeals from the Court of Appeal

Appeals from the Court of Appeal are dealt with by the Supreme Court.

Appeal

For those who do not win their case, there is normally a right of appeal. However, this is based purely on the decision reached in the case.

Following a criminal conviction and sentence in either a Magistrates court or a Crown Court, the solicitor and/or barrister will provide advice as to whether or not, they feel that a successful appeal can be put forward to the appellate courts.

If there are no grounds for an appeal then that advice will generally be verbal. If it is felt that there are grounds for an appeal against either the conviction, sentence or both, then the barrister (referred to as Counsel) will prepare such an advice in writing along with those grounds.

It is not possible for court staff or other government officials to review a judgment made by the courts. 

Before you lodge an appeal, you are strongly urged to seek legal advice as to the procedure, merit and cost

Appeal – Appealing a Sentence/Conviction from a Magistrate’s Court

Appeals against the decision of the magistrates’ court in criminal cases are heard by the Crown Court. The appeal is made to the magistrates’ court and the papers sent by the magistrates’ court staff to the Crown Court.

Appeal – Appealing a Sentence/Conviction from a Crown Court

To appeal against a criminal conviction or sentence handed down by the Crown Court you need to seek permission from a judge. Appeal applications and applications for leave to appeal against decisions made by the Crown Court are dealt with by the Court of Appeal Criminal Division.

Appeal – Grounds for an Appeal
  1. the appeal must have a real prospect of success; and
  2. there is some other compelling reason why the appeal should be granted.

It is necessary to prove that there was some kind of misunderstanding of the law, evidence or facts. Sometimes one of the parties obtains fresh evidence; this is not normally allowed by an appeal court, but if the party can show that this fresh evidence was relevant and credible but not possible to be obtained for the hearing at a lower court, it will be allowed.

Appeal – Time Scale

Any crown court appeal application must usually be submitted within 28 days of either:

  • the date you were convicted if you’re appealing against your conviction;
  • the date you were sentenced if you’re appealing against your sentence.

There are exceptions to this rule where a request can be made for the court to allow an appeal ‘out of time’ (this is known as ‘Leave to Appeal out of Time’). 

This type of application must be justified and the full reasons why the application is out of time must be explained.

Appeal – Process

The above application to appeal either the conviction and/or sentence is known as an application for ‘Leave to Appeal’ and that application is considered by a single Appeal Judge. They decide whether or not the application has a reasonable chance of succeeding.

 The single Judge is there to filter out all of the applications that will probably end up being unsuccessful anyway. All applications will go through this process and the single Judge will always provide reasons for the decision in writing.

If an application for Leave to Appeal is granted (by the single Judge) the application will go on to the ‘Full Court of Appeal’. This is where the application will be heard in full, witnesses can give evidence and the reasons (known as arguments) can be advanced. The full Court will then make its decision and the application will be granted or refused.

If the application/appeal is granted, there are a number of options open to the appellate court:

  • In the case of an appeal against sentence, a reduction of sentence can be made.
  • In the case of an appeal against conviction, the court can ‘quash’ (overturn) the conviction completely or they can order a re-trial.

If the appeal court refuses permission to appeal, strikes out your notice or dismisses your appeal, and it feels that the application, the notice or the appeal is totally without merit, it must record this and consider whether it is appropriate to make a civil restraint order.

Appeal – No Grounds of Appeal

If the solicitor/ barrister advises that there are unlikely to be any grounds of appeal there are a few options. If you feel strongly that you have grounds to appeal, you can make an application yourself. You will need to obtain a copy of the application (Form NG) and fully set out your reasons.

Alternatively, a person who has been convicted can seek a second opinion from another lawyer. They need to write to a solicitor who will then send you some forms to sign called CDS1 and CDS2. Once the solicitor has these forms back, he or she will usually be able to come and see the client (if he or she is in prison) to discuss your case and the options available. The client’s reasons can be explored and he will receive a second opinion in writing. If a solicitor thinks that the appeal may have a chance, then he or she will begin to prepare and investigate the appeal properly, and also prepare justification for the application being out of time if it is longer than 28 days since sentence. This will be the same process whether it is out of time by a week or out of time by a year or longer.

Appeal – Rejected Applications

In the case where Grounds of Appeal has been rejected at the first stage (The Single Judge Stage) there is an option available to request that the application is still put forward to the full Court regardless. However, this option needs to be considered very carefully as it can carry harsh penalties if the appeal is ultimately refused. Such penalties include the potential for any time already spent in custody (up until the point of the refusal by the Court of Appeal) to not be counted as part of the sentence. There is a risk that you would have to start your sentence again from scratch. This is unlikely to be the case if Counsel advised that your application should still be put forward despite a rejection by the Single Judge, but it does happen.

Appeal – Full Court of Appeal Refusals

If an application reaches the Full Appellate Court and is not successful, there are still options available should you disagree with the Court’s decision. 

One such avenue is to submit an application to the Criminal Cases Review Commission (C.C.R.C) who will then appoint a case worker to investigate your concerns. In the United Kingdom, this is generally the only way that you can have your case referred back to the appellate courts.

You cannot make an application to the C.C.R.C until you have first been rejected by the Court of Appeal.

Appeal – Appeals from the Court of Appeal

Appeals from the Court of Appeal are dealt with by the Supreme Court.

Appeal

For those who do not win their case, there is normally a right of appeal. However, this is based purely on the decision reached in the case.

Following a criminal conviction and sentence in either a Magistrates court or a Crown Court, the solicitor and/or barrister will provide advice as to whether or not, they feel that a successful appeal can be put forward to the appellate courts.

If there are no grounds for an appeal then that advice will generally be verbal. If it is felt that there are grounds for an appeal against either the conviction, sentence or both, then the barrister (referred to as Counsel) will prepare such an advice in writing along with those grounds.

It is not possible for court staff or other government officials to review a judgment made by the courts. 

Before you lodge an appeal, you are strongly urged to seek legal advice as to the procedure, merit and cost

Appeal – Appealing a Sentence/Conviction from a Magistrate’s Court

Appeals against the decision of the magistrates’ court in criminal cases are heard by the Crown Court. The appeal is made to the magistrates’ court and the papers sent by the magistrates’ court staff to the Crown Court.

Appeal – Appealing a Sentence/Conviction from a Crown Court

To appeal against a criminal conviction or sentence handed down by the Crown Court you need to seek permission from a judge. Appeal applications and applications for leave to appeal against decisions made by the Crown Court are dealt with by the Court of Appeal Criminal Division.

Appeal – Grounds for an Appeal
  1. the appeal must have a real prospect of success; and
  2. there is some other compelling reason why the appeal should be granted.

It is necessary to prove that there was some kind of misunderstanding of the law, evidence or facts. Sometimes one of the parties obtains fresh evidence; this is not normally allowed by an appeal court, but if the party can show that this fresh evidence was relevant and credible but not possible to be obtained for the hearing at a lower court, it will be allowed.

Appeal – Time Scale

Any crown court appeal application must usually be submitted within 28 days of either:

  • the date you were convicted if you’re appealing against your conviction;
  • the date you were sentenced if you’re appealing against your sentence.

There are exceptions to this rule where a request can be made for the court to allow an appeal ‘out of time’ (this is known as ‘Leave to Appeal out of Time’). 

This type of application must be justified and the full reasons why the application is out of time must be explained.

Appeal – Process

The above application to appeal either the conviction and/or sentence is known as an application for ‘Leave to Appeal’ and that application is considered by a single Appeal Judge. They decide whether or not the application has a reasonable chance of succeeding.

 The single Judge is there to filter out all of the applications that will probably end up being unsuccessful anyway. All applications will go through this process and the single Judge will always provide reasons for the decision in writing.

If an application for Leave to Appeal is granted (by the single Judge) the application will go on to the ‘Full Court of Appeal’. This is where the application will be heard in full, witnesses can give evidence and the reasons (known as arguments) can be advanced. The full Court will then make its decision and the application will be granted or refused.

If the application/appeal is granted, there are a number of options open to the appellate court:

  • In the case of an appeal against sentence, a reduction of sentence can be made.
  • In the case of an appeal against conviction, the court can ‘quash’ (overturn) the conviction completely or they can order a re-trial.

If the appeal court refuses permission to appeal, strikes out your notice or dismisses your appeal, and it feels that the application, the notice or the appeal is totally without merit, it must record this and consider whether it is appropriate to make a civil restraint order.

Appeal – No Grounds of Appeal

If the solicitor/ barrister advises that there are unlikely to be any grounds of appeal there are a few options. If you feel strongly that you have grounds to appeal, you can make an application yourself. You will need to obtain a copy of the application (Form NG) and fully set out your reasons.

Alternatively, a person who has been convicted can seek a second opinion from another lawyer. They need to write to a solicitor who will then send you some forms to sign called CDS1 and CDS2. Once the solicitor has these forms back, he or she will usually be able to come and see the client (if he or she is in prison) to discuss your case and the options available. The client’s reasons can be explored and he will receive a second opinion in writing. If a solicitor thinks that the appeal may have a chance, then he or she will begin to prepare and investigate the appeal properly, and also prepare justification for the application being out of time if it is longer than 28 days since sentence. This will be the same process whether it is out of time by a week or out of time by a year or longer.

Appeal – Rejected Applications

In the case where Grounds of Appeal has been rejected at the first stage (The Single Judge Stage) there is an option available to request that the application is still put forward to the full Court regardless. However, this option needs to be considered very carefully as it can carry harsh penalties if the appeal is ultimately refused. Such penalties include the potential for any time already spent in custody (up until the point of the refusal by the Court of Appeal) to not be counted as part of the sentence. There is a risk that you would have to start your sentence again from scratch. This is unlikely to be the case if Counsel advised that your application should still be put forward despite a rejection by the Single Judge, but it does happen.

Appeal – Full Court of Appeal Refusals

If an application reaches the Full Appellate Court and is not successful, there are still options available should you disagree with the Court’s decision. 

One such avenue is to submit an application to the Criminal Cases Review Commission (C.C.R.C) who will then appoint a case worker to investigate your concerns. In the United Kingdom, this is generally the only way that you can have your case referred back to the appellate courts.

You cannot make an application to the C.C.R.C until you have first been rejected by the Court of Appeal.

Appeal – Appeals from the Court of Appeal

Appeals from the Court of Appeal are dealt with by the Supreme Court.

Investigation – Rights Content (Under 18 / Mentally Impaired)

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Investigation – Rights Content (Over 18)

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