Non-fatal offences include assault and battery. These are the least serious crimes and are only heard in the magistrates. Assault, brah.
Offences include ABH (s47) and GBH (s20) Middle range crimes, which can be heard, surprisingly, in either court! They must first appear in the Magistrate’s Court where it will be decided whether they stay there to be heard, or are moved up to the Crown Court.
GBH (s18) would be an Indictable Offence. These are the most serious crimes and can only be heard in the Crown Court. However, they’ll first appear in the Magistrate’s Court to be transferred to the Crown Court. I guess the Magistrate’s Court just wanna be in the loop or something.
Non-fatal offence Actus Reus? Mens Rea?Assault The defendant by some physical Either intention of subjective movement, causing the victim to recklessness as to causing the apprehend immediate, unlawful victim to apprehend immediate personal violence. unlawful personal violence.Battery The infliction of unlawful personal Either intention or subjective violence by the defendant. All that is recklessness as to the infliction of required is touching the victim unlawful personal violence. without consent or other lawful excuse.Actual Bodily Harm (S. 47) An assault or battery (usually Intention or recklessness as to an battery) which causes actual bodily assault or battery harm – such as a bruise.GBH (S. 20) Malicious wounding or inflicting Requires intention or recklessness GBH. Wounding: all layers of skin to inflict some harm. broken GBH: serious injury, e.g. broken bonesGBH (S. 18) Wounding or GBH as in s.20. Specific intent to cause GBH, or intent to resist lawful arrest
Magistrates deal with the early stages of all criminal cases such as bail and the legal funding of the case so that the accused has legal representation. They will decide if someone is eligible for free funding through a means and merits test. Means test looks at whether the defendant has the means to afford legal aid. Merits test means that if the defendant is likely to face imprisonment or serious damage to their reputation they will receive free funding. The defendant must pass both tests to receive funding!
If the offence is indictable (srs bznz) the Magistrate’s must transfer it to the Crown Court after dealing with bail and funding. If charged with a summary offence (np np) the accused will be asked to plead guilty or not guilty after dealing with bail and funding. If guilty, they’ll be sentenced at another hearing – no trial necessary. If not guilty a date will be set for the trial. Either Way offences are a little less straightforward, though.
If it is an either way offence then the Magistrates must first hold a plea before venue hearing after dealing with bail and funding. This is often when the accused is asked to plead guilty or not guilty. If the plea is guilty the Magistrates will try to sentence them but may have to refer sentencing to a Crown Court if the Magistrates Court feel their sentencing powers aren’t good enough in dealing with the offender after hearing their previous convictions. If the plea is not guilty, then a mode of trial hearing must take place to decide where the trial should go – Magistrate’s or Crown? Relevant factors include – the nature of the case, whether the circumstances make the offence serious, whether the punishment which a Magistrates’ Court has is adequate. If the Magistrates decide they can handle the case, they give the accused the choice between Crown and Magistrates. They’ll warn them first even if they choose the Magistrates they could still be sent to the Crown Court for sentencing if the Magistrates find them guilty but consider their powers too weak for the right sentence.
Remand on bail is the release of the accused until the next court appearance. Remand in custody is where the accused has not been given bail as the risks are too high in allowing him/her to remain free. Magistrates must decide whether to give bail or not. The Bail Act 1976 presumes that everyone shall remain free unless the Magistrates decide there are substantial grounds to believe that the accused would: Fail to surrender to custody (fail to turn up in court) Commit an offence Interfere with witnesses
In deciding whether to give bail the Magistrates will also consider factors— The nature and seriousness of the offence and the probable means of dealing with it Character, criminal record, associations and community ties of the accused The accused’s previous bail record Strength of the evidence (Are they likely to be guilty?)
If the Magistrates have substantial grounds to believe the accused would not surrender to custody, and/or interfere with witnesses and/or commit further offences then conditions can be imposed, rather than flat out refusing bail: Surrendering passport (so they can’t escape to China) Report to a police station Curfews, reside in a bail hostel, electronic tag, exclusion from an area Provide a surety (A family member etc. offers to pay up if the accused fails to attend court.)
Punishment or RetributionThe punishment inflicted for grave crimes should adequately reflect the revulsion felt by thegreat majority of citizens for them … it’s human nature to seek revenge and retribution forcrimes, as the wrongdoers deserve it. DeterrenceTo deter someone from offending, or a defendant from reoffending, for fear of punishment. RehabilitationTo reform and re-educate the offender so that he/she will not reoffend. Protecting the PublicParticularly for random violent or sexual attacks or gang crime, custody is the only way publicsafety can be guaranteed. ReparationCompensation orders allow offenders to be forced to make amends to the victim, usuallythrough financial payment. It’s only really useful if they have the funds, though. If appropriate,community orders can force the offender to put right damage done – such as painting overgraffiti. It is also intended to make the offender aware of the harm they’ve caused.
Aggravating FactorsThese factors would make an offence more serious. Previous convictions for similar offences The offence was committed whilst on bail The involvement of racial or religious hostility The involvement of hostility on the grounds of disability or sexual orientation Victim may have been vulnerable in some way, or the attack was carried out in a gang. Abusing a position of trust e.g. a sexual assault by a teacher or a doctor The use of a weapon or repeated attack
Mitigating FactorsThese will be pleaded on behalf of the defendant to try and get thesentence down, and could include the following: First offence the defendant has committed The defendant is very young or old Defendant is vulnerable, easily influenced by others He or she has expressed remorse – shown by pleading guilty – and perhaps made an offer to compensate the victim The defendant has difficult home circumstances
Custodial sentencesMandatory sentences (most serious available) is where the defendant is put into custody immediately. This coversthings like murder, which has an automatic life sentence.Discretionary sentences is where the court has a choice whether or not to imprison somebody. The courts must havereason to back up a custodial sentence – the judge has to be satisfied that the offence is so serious that nothing otherthan custody is justified. They could however sentence them to one of the below: Suspended sentencesA period of custody that is not activated unless the offender commits another offence during the specified period oftime, usually 2 years. Community sentencesCourts can sentence an offender to a community order. This could contain a number of requirements such as unpaidwork supervised by the Probation Service, curfew, drug/alcohol treatment, residence in a specified place, exclusionfrom specific areas, basic skills education, reparation to victims of crime. FinesThe Crown Court can impose an unlimited fine. The Magistrates’ Court is generally limited to a maximum of £5000. DischargesThe defendant is not sentenced as such, but if the discharge is conditional, they will be sentenced for the originaloffence if they commit another offence within a specified period of up to 3 years. An absolute discharge would bewhere there is technically an offence, but the offence is so trivial or there are special circumstances affecting theoffender that the case shouldn’t have been brought to court anyway.