If you have committed a criminal offence and your case is being heard with a trial in the Magistrates’ Court, you would have previously pleaded not guilty to the offence of which you are accused.
If instructed, on the day of your trial a legal advocate from Lawtons will be present at your trial to defend you. The Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) will also be represented by an advocate.
A court clerk will advise and assist the magistrates or the District Judge who will ultimately decide whether you are found guilty or not guilty of the offence.
The trial process in the Magistrates’ Court
At the start of your trial in the Magistrates’ Court you will be formally identified and will be required to confirm your not guilty plea.
The prosecutor will open the case giving a summary of allegation against you. After the case has been opened, the prosecutor will call upon witnesses to give their evidence. These individuals may be:
- Witnesses who allege that they were the victim of the criminal offence
- Witnesses to the alleged offence
- Police officers who were involved in the investigation
If there are facts in dispute, your defence advocate will cross examine the witnesses, whereby they will ask questions to try and discredit or challenge the witnesses’ versions of events.
If there is evidence that is not in dispute this evidence may be read to the court from a witness statement. In some cases there may also be CCTV evidence available, which will also be played in court.
When does the defence get the chance to speak in a Magistrates Court trial?
At the end of the prosecution case, the defence case begins. You have a choice as to whether you wish to give evidence and you will have previously discussed this with your advocate prior to the trial. Should you decide to give evidence you will be called by your advocate who will ask you questions which will allow you to give your version of events. The prosecutor will then cross examine you in order to attempt to discredit your version of events.
If you have defence witnesses they will also give live evidence and will they are also likely to be cross examined.
At the end of the defence case, the prosecutor will give a closing speech summarising their case and aiming to show why they believe you are guilty of the alleged offence. Your defence advocate will then also give a closing speech summarising your case, aiming to show why you should be found not guilty of the offence.
The magistrates or district judge will then consider the case in full and decide whether or not you should be found guilty or not guilty of the offence.
Sentencing in a Magistrates’ Court trial
If you are found not guilty you will be acquitted of the offence and that will be the end of the case. If however you are found guilty, the court will then consider sentence. In some circumstances they may sentence immediately or they may have to adjourn sentence for the probation service to consider a pre-sentence report. You will then be required to return to court on another date for sentencing to take place.
If you are facing a magistrates’ court trial, get in touch with our team of specialist solicitors at Lawtons. We have the knowledge and expertise to represent you in a magistrates’ court trial and we will work with you to get the fairest possible outcome for you.
Nb. This guide is intended to give general information only and not intended to be used as the basis upon which advice is given, nor should it be relied upon as giving advice specific to a case or individual. Lawtons do not accept liability for anyone using this guide. Should you require specific advice in connection with a real case or situation, please contact us immediately so that we can provide specific advice.