Going to Court
Going to court
First off, the criminal cases are heard in a magistrates court and once they are classed as serious will be transferred to a crown court. The crimes are normally split into 3 types, summary offences. These are offences such as drunk and disorderly or criminal damage, these usually stay at a magistrates court.
Offences relating to drugs, high criminal damage and theft, depending on the severity will either remain at magistrates or get transferred to crown.
Indictable only offences such as rape or murder cant be dealt with at magistrates so they will transfer it to crown after the crime has been heard at the magistrates court.
Going to court
The Magistrates court are usually heard by a judge or judge and jury. The magistrate is a member of the public but gone through training and is advised on legal matters by a court officer (the clerk) where as a judge is legally qualified such as a barrister or solicitor.
Once your case has been listed, it will either be in the morning or afternoon. When you get there you will be airport style security checked so leave plenty of time before your case is due to be heard. Dress code is usually court attire, if you don’t want to go full suit, at least smart clothing, first impressions count.
There are normally 3 magistrates in the court room and they will decide your fate whether guilty or not guilty and they can pass a sentence with a maximum time of 12 months. In a crown court there will be a jury of 12 members of the public selected at random. They will have no prior knowledge to your case or anybody involved with it. In crown court your defence team will also be present. The usher will wear a black robe, the judge a robe and wig and the usher will be the running in the proceedings ensuring people take the seat, stand when the judge enters and pass around articles as the trial proceeds.
The trial normally starts with both parties stating their stance on the case to the jury. Then the prosecutors will carry on explaining to the jury why they have brought the case to court and why they feel they should find the defendant guilty. If there are any witnesses to be called forward, they will be scheduled to stand in the box and give evidence to the jury. You will normally be sat at the back or in a box away from everyone else. If the public want to sit in on your case they can do on the side of the court.
After everything has been heard the jury will deliberate and decide guilty or not guilty. The foreman (one appointed in the jury) to read out the verdicts of each count. The judge will then pass sentencing.