Step 1- The Crime After someone has broken the law, the victim or witness will call the police and tell them what has happened. This is called making a statement. The police then find out about the person who has been accused. If they think the person may be guilty then they take them to a police station. This is called making an arrest. At the police station the arrested person can ask for help from a solicitor. A solicitor is someone who knows all about law.
Step 2- The Charges <ul><li>The police officers who are finding out about the crime will question the arrested person. This can go on for up to 72 hours, but can be longer under certain circumstances. </li></ul><ul><li>After this time the police have three options. </li></ul><ul><li>They can either: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Let the person go </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Ask a magistrate for 24 hours more questioning time </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Charge the person </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Charging a person means formally accusing them of a crime. To do this the police must think that there is evidence to link them to the offence. </li></ul>
Step 3- Remand The charged person appears at a magistrates' court where criminal law cases are dealt with. The charge sheet will be read out. This explains what the person is accused of. The solicitor may ask for bail. The magistrates decide whether to remand into custody or on bail. Remanded in custody Someone who has been charged must stay locked up until they appear in court again. Remanded on bail This means they are charged with a crime but can go free until they appear in court again. Bail conditions mean a promise to behave in a certain way, maybe to not go near the crime victim.
Step 4- Court Preperation The accused person/s and their solicitor/s write down exactly what they say has happened. The police then do the same with other people who may have seen what happened to write down what they saw. These people are called witnesses. The Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) get all of the police's information and decide if there is enough evidence to prove the person did the crime.
Step 5- The Magistrates Court Most defendants/Criminals now appear in this kind of court. There is no jury of ordinary people, the magistrates (or judges) make the decisions. The defendant has to say if they are 'guilty' or 'not guilty'. If the defendant says that they are guilty then the magistrates make their decision over what the punishment will be. This is also called 'sentencing'. If the defendant says they are not guilty then the Crown Prosecution Service tells the court why they think they are guilty. For the most serious crimes, such as murder, the defendant has to go to the Crown Court.
Step 6- The Crown Court The more serious crimes such as murder are dealt with in this type of court with a judge and a jury making the decisions. The jury is a group of 12 ordinary people chosen by chance from everyone in the country. When the jury have heard the reasons for the defendant being guilty and the reasons for them being innocent and all the evidence they make their decision. At least ten of the people on the jury must agree for them to be able to give their 'verdict'.
Step 7- The Sentence If it is said that the defendant/s is guilty, the judge decides the punishment. The defendant now becomes a convicted criminal. The judge has to think about the facts of the crime and the kind of person the criminal is when deciding their 'sentence'. Only the more serious crimes may end in the criminal going to prison, many criminals have to pay fines or do good work for their community instead.