Which Court? Crown Court or Magistrates Court?
Criminal cases in this country are usually heard in either the Magistrates Court or the Crown Court. It is fair to say that the vast majority of cases are heard in the Magistrates Court which is usually a court local to where the alleged offence is said to have taken place.
There will, however be occasions where it is not appropriate for the case to be heard in that court and often applications will be made to change the venue or location of the court hearing the case. Cases in the Magistrates Court are normally heard in front of Magistrates although sometimes a single judge can hear cases.
In the Magistrates Court sentencing powers are limited and it is for this reason that more serious cases are often heard at the Crown Court. In cases before the Crown Court, defendants are usually represented by a barrister and we will guide you through the process of choosing and funding a barrister. Your case will usually be heard in front of a single judge often assisted by a jury of 12 people. Most serious cases are heard at the Crown Court although in certain circumstances defendants can elect for their case to be heard before a Judge and Jury (as opposed to the Magistrates Court).
What happens before a case reaches the Court is often crucial in deciding the outcome. Answers given, enquiries made and representation can often make a dramatic difference to the outcome of the case. That is why it is important to get advice at an early stage.
Often a warning or police caution is offered by the police in order to avoid court proceedings. Whilst this can seem attractive at the outset it is important to note that a caution is Usually perceived as an admission of guilt and moreover may have far reaching consequences in so far as a CRB or DBS check is concerned. That is why it is absolutely crucial to seek advice prior to entering into any discussions in respect of out of court disposals.