Criminal cases in England and Wales can be heard either in the Magistrates Court or the Crown Court. Although every case starts in the Magistrates the most serious matters will be referred to the Crown Court by the Magistrates. In some cases representations can be made about which court should hear the case and in some you will have the right to chose, or “elect” which court hears your case. These are very important decisions.
At Cartwright King, we acknowledge your legal right to be represented to the highest standard whichever court hears your case. Most of our advocates are qualified to appear before both courts and best placed to advise you about the issues that may arise.
Our Barristers and Solicitors are available to take on your case and provide you with the professional representation needed which you would be wise to seek at the earliest opportunity. We make it a priority to provide our clients with professional legal representation from the outset and guide you through the legal proceedings, building a strong defence for you in the process.
Initial telephone consultation and Legal Aid
Our highly skilled Criminal Defence team are here to take the worry off your hands. Please call us on 0808 168 5550 or email firstname.lastname@example.org and we can arrange an initial telephone consultation to see how we can assist in your case. If after the initial consultation you decide to use our services, we can deter whether you are eligible for legal aid or must pay on a private fee paying basis.
At Cartwright King our experienced lawyers will always advise you whether or not Legal Aid is available to fund your defence.
In order to be eligible you have to be able to pass two tests;
- First you must show that it is in the interests of justice that Legal Aid be granted to you. This might be because to establish your case will involve expert cross examination of witnesses by our lawyers, or because you are at risk of imprisonment, or that you suffer from some disability.
- Secondly you must pass a means test. This is based on the weekly income of yourself and your partner. There are slightly different rules depending on whether your case is to be heard at the Magistrates or Crown Court and the provisions are complex but we are happy to take your details and advise whether you might qualify.
If unfortunately you do not qualify for Legal Aid we will always provide a competitive quotation to deal with your case on a private basis and can agree a payment plan with you to assist you and your family secure the best possible representation for you.
What is the Crown Court?
The Crown Court deals with Criminal cases referred to it from the Magistrates. In the Crown Court cases are heard by a Judge sitting with a jury of 12 people. In the Magistrates the case will be decided by 3 magistrates or a District Judge sitting alone. This can happen in various ways;
Indictable offences (those that can only be heard in a Crown Court) - These are the most serious offences, murder, rape, wounding with intent and conspiracies are examples.
‘Either way offences’ - These are offences which the law says can be heard in either court. The Magistrates will decide if the facts are such that their sentencing powers would be adequate. They will also consider if there are any complex or public policy issues that might mean the case should be heard in the Crown Court. If they decide to keep the case you may still have the right to elect (choose) to have your case heard in the Crown Court.
Those who are committed to the Crown Court for sentence - If Magistrates begin to hear your case they can decide that their sentencing powers are insufficient and commit your case to a Judge at the Crown Court to sentence you. This will usually be where they think a sentence of more than 6 months is needed.
If you are in the position where you require representation in the Magistrates Court we can advise you about whether your case might be sent to the Crown Court or whether your case is best progressed by you electing trial by Jury at the Crown Court.
What is the procedure?
Trials in the Crown Court take place before a Judge sitting with a jury of 12 people selected at random. The Judge is there to advise the jury on the law and procedure while the jury decide any questions of fact. If the Jury decide that you are guilty, it is the Judge who decides your sentence.
After a first hearing in the Magistrates there will be further hearings before the Judge when he gives directions to ensure both sides are ready for trial. If you plead guilty the judge will pass sentence after listening to your advocate explain or mitigate your case.
At trial each side presents its evidence, which can be challenged by cross examination, and after being directed by the Judge the Jury will retire to consider its verdict.
Initially the Jury must reach a unanimous decision, but a Judge may allow a majority decision later. If the Jury cannot decide there may have to be a re trial.
How can we help you?
If you have been accused of committing an offence wherever your trial will be heard at the Crown Court or Magistrates, our experienced Criminal Defence Solicitors are available to advise you throughout the entire process and build a strong case for your defence. We promise to:
- Advise you throughout the entire process including decisions about where your case will be heard
- Seek legal aid for you subject to your finances
- Deal confidentially with any concerns you may have
- Have one of our leading advocates represent you
- Prepare and collate any and all documentary evidence that may be required
- Take the worry off your hands
- Prepare an appeal if necessary
Our team are highly ranked in the Legal 500 and Chambers and Partners guides. We have extensive experience in successfully defending people who are being trialled in the Crown Court and pride ourselves in our professional and efficient approach.
Why Choose Us?
At Cartwright King, our solicitors understand the stress and worry that undergoing a Crown Court trial can cause and the negative impact it can have on your life during this time. We are available to support you throughout the entirety of the legal proceedings, explaining the likely outcomes and fighting on your behalf.
How to make contact
If you require legal advice or if you would like a no obligation, free initial telephone discussion, then please call us on 0808 168 5550. Alternatively you can email the Criminal Defence team on email@example.com and we will get back to you as soon as possible.
Our Criminal Defence Solicitors can provide advice and are happy to meet at a time and location that suits you. We also have a network of offices in Birmingham, Bedford, Bolton, Derby, Leeds, Leicester, London Temple, Manchester, Middlesbrough, Northampton, Nottingham, Sheffield and Worcester.