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English Legal System

English Legal System (5th edn)

Helen Rutherford, Birju Kotecha, and Angela Macfarlane
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date: 30 November 2023

p. 44012. The criminal process: Pre-trial and triallocked

p. 44012. The criminal process: Pre-trial and triallocked

  • Helen Rutherford, Helen RutherfordSenior Lecturer, Northumbria University
  • Birju KotechaBirju KotechaSenior Lecturer, Northumbria University
  •  and Angela MacFarlaneAngela MacFarlaneSenior Lecturer, Northumbria University


This chapter explains what happens once a person has been charged with a criminal offence. Whether a case remains in the magistrates’ court or is sent to the Crown Court depends on whether the offence is ‘summary only’, ‘indictable only’, or ‘triable either way’. Summary trial takes place before a district judge or bench of lay justices in the magistrates’ court. Trial on indictment takes place before a jury in the Crown Court. Criminal proceedings are governed by the Criminal Procedure Rules (CrimPR). The overriding objective is to deal with cases justly, including acquitting the innocent and convicting the guilty. The chapter considers those parts of the CrimPR that set out the steps to be taken before a trial in both the magistrates’ court and the Crown Court. It explores key evidential and procedural rules that apply at trial, such as the rule that the prosecution must prove a defendant’s guilt beyond reasonable doubt.

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