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English Legal System

English Legal System (4th edn)

Steve Wilson, Helen Rutherford, Tony Storey, Natalie Wortley, and Birju Kotecha
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date: 30 November 2023

p. 48513. The criminal process: pre-trial and triallocked

p. 48513. The criminal process: pre-trial and triallocked

  • Steve Wilson, Steve WilsonFormer Principal Lecturer, Northumbria University, Newcastle
  • Helen Rutherford, Helen RutherfordSenior Lecturer, Northumbria University, Newcastle
  • Tony Storey, Tony StoreySenior Lecturer, Northumbria University, Newcastle
  • Natalie WortleyNatalie WortleyAssociate Professor, Northumbria University, Newcastle
  •  and Birju KotechaBirju KotechaSenior Lecturer, Northumbria University, Newcastle


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. An offence that is triable either way may be allocated to the Crown Court or, if it is suitable for summary trial, the defendant may nevertheless choose Crown Court trial. Criminal proceedings are governed by the Criminal Procedure Rules (CrimPR), whose 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, including decisions relating to bail. It also explores key evidential and procedural rules that apply at trial, such as rules governing the disclosure of material in the possession of the prosecution and the rule that the prosecution bears the burden of proving a defendant’s guilt beyond reasonable doubt.

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