Scotland has both a separate legal system and different laws to England.
There are two types of law in Scotland; Criminal law and Civil law.
Criminal Law- When a crime is alleged to have been committed for example a murder charge.
Civil Law- Arguments and disputes between individuals for example Divorce Settlements.
The Law in Scotland Orders action, e.g. divorce awards compensation Divorce, breaches of contract Gives judgments, Disputes between individuals Civil law Prison, fines, Community service Murder, rape, theft Punishes offenders Crimes Criminal Law Outcomes Examples Of cases What the court does What they Deal with
Criminal Courts in Scotland There are 4 levels of Criminal Court in Scotland. They are as follows. District Court/Justice of the Peace Courts- This is the lowest level of court. Most of these are found in police stations. The judges in this level of court are called magistrates, Often they can be Lay-Magistrates meaning that they volunteer to judge. Sheriff Courts- Judges in these courts are called sheriffs who are trained solicitors or advocates as they have experience in the court. This court deals with crimes such as burglary and minor assaults. Can also be used as a Civil Court. High Court of Judiciary- These courts deal with the most serious criminal cases. Because the prosecution may be very serious the judge is a Government minister called The Lord Advocate. There is normally a jury in the court to help make the decision whether the suspect is innocent or guilty. Scottish Criminal Court of Appeal- this is the highest level of court in Scotland If the accused are unhappy with the outcome of The High Court of Judiciary then he/she may wish to appeal to have a “fairer” judgement. This court is only used when someone is appealing on the decision of The High Court of Judiciary. . If the Sheriff courts or District Courts want to appeal then they can appeal to the High Court of Judiciary. Appealing can only occur if the procurator fiscal agrees that the case is worthy of appealing.
Civil Courts In Scotland
Tribunals- Created as an Executive Agency for the Ministry of Justice which settles unemployment, immigration, child welfare, property, etc disputes.
Scottish Land Court- It has authority to resolve a range of disputes, including disputes between landlords and tenants, in agriculture and crofting.
Sheriff Courts- Are also used as Criminal Courts but in Civil Law they are used to settle the majority of civil cases e.g. Divorce, eviction, bankruptcy, licensing etc.
Court of Session - Divided into two houses.
-Outer House- Consists of 24 lords who sit alone or in some cases with a civil jury. Deals with cases involving large amounts of money e.g. Divorce.
-Inner House- Presided by Lord President (Head of Judiciary in Scotland) and Lord Justice Clerk (Second most senior judge in Scotland). Deals with the appeals made from Sheriff Court and Outer House.
House of Lords/ The Supreme Court since Oct 2009- The supreme court hears the appeals made by the Court of Session.
There are also 4 levels of Civil Court in Scotland. They are as follows. In order from the lowest level of Civil Court to the highest.
Legal Procedure in Scotland
In Scotland there are 15 men and women on a jury. A verdict is reached by a majority of 8 to 7 compared to England where there are 12 men and women and a majority of 10 to 2 is needed.
Normally a verdict is either “guilty” or “Not guilty” whereas in Scotland there is a third verdict which is “not proven”- this has the same effect as being found “not guilty”
To find someone guilty in Scotland you need more than just one eye witness whereas in England just one eye witness may be enough to prosecute as long as the jury is convinced.
The defendant is presumed innocent until proven guilty.
It is clear that Scotland’s legal procedure differs to England’s. Juries, Verdicts, Corroboration of evidence, presumption of innocence.
The Police These are some of the types of police. Uniformed Branch- Foot and mobile patrols in radio communication with Their control room. Criminal Investigation Department (CID)- They detect crime, Prepare crime statistics, advising on crime prevention and usually have a specialist Drugs unit. Traffic Department- They enforce traffic laws and manage traffic as well As dealing with accidents. Specialised Departments- This includes departments such as Underwater units, Mounted police, Police dogs and community Involvement e.g. neighbourhood watch etc. Their Powers
Stop and question a suspect or witness.
Detain a person at a police station for six hours for questioning.
Search a person suspected of having any illegal substances or suspicion of being a terrorist.
Arrest a person and charge them with a crime they see committing or with enough evidence or reliable witnesses.
Use reasonable force in pursuit of their duties.
Issue fixed Penalty notices.
Sentencing in Scotland Someone found guilty of committing a crime in Scotland can face two types of sentences, They are as follows. Custodial Sentence- detention in a prison or young offenders institution. Non-Custodial Sentence- Served in the community. Some of these Non-Custodial Sentences are as follows.
Fine- offenders sentenced to pay money as a deterrent to re-offending and can also be compensation to a victim. Depending on the seriousness of the offence is how much the offender may be fined.
Probation- Supervision for 6 months/3 years to try and tries to tackle the causes of offending.
Community Service Order (CSO)- To carry up to 300 hours of unpaid work which helps the community.
These are only a few of the Non-Custodial Sentences. To see more sentences visit http://www.psychlotron.org.uk/newResources/criminological/A2_AQB_crim_nonCustodial.pdf
To conclude it is clear that the Scottish Justice System is ever changing and differs in many ways from the other British Systems.
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