Plea and trial preparation

When you have been given a date for a Plea and Trial Preparation Hearing (PTPH), it generally means that your case has been transferred from the Magistrates Court to the Crown Court and this will be your next court date.

The PTPH is when the Court will typically expect a defendant to be “arraigned”. In practice, this means that the Defendant enters a plea of guilty or not guilty. Depending on the plea that is entered, the case will then take a certain direction:

In a “not guilty” plea case

In this type of case, the Prosecution and Defence Counsel will have had a discussion prior to the case being heard in court. The Defence barrister will have been briefed by us on the case before the hearing, so that they know all about the case and why the “not guilty” plea is being entered and what the issues are. The barristers will then complete what is known as the PTPH Form, which is a legal requirement and will be used by the Judge when he is fixing the Trial and deciding on when it will be and how long it will last.

During the Hearing itself, the Judge will fix a timetable when he expects things to happen.

  1. Typically, this will involve the Prosecution being directed to serve the evidence upon which they intend to rely by a certain date. This is referred to as Stage 1.
  2. The Judge will also direct that the Defence respond with what is known as a Defence Case Statement by a certain date. This is referred to as Stage 2. The Defence Case Statement is an important part of the preparation for trial. It is a document that outlines in some detail what the Defendant is saying about the Prosecution case against him, it will outline why the Defendant is pleading not guilty and what further evidence should be disclosed as part of the Defence preparations for trial.
  3. Stage 3 is normally the last stage and when the Prosecution formally respond to the Defence Case Statement. Depending on that response, further arguments can then take place. These are typically more complicated and relate to the specific details of the case, often involving legal argument in court.
  4. The last thing that the judge will normally do is set a date for the trial, along with any further dates where legal arguments may take place.

In “guilty” plea case

In a case where the Defendant is pleading guilty, the Judge will normally have two main options.

  1. The first will involve the case being adjourned for a Pre-Sentence Report, which is a document that the Probation prepare following an interview with the Defendant. Often, if this does take place, the case may be adjourned for several weeks so that the Report can be prepared. This tends to happen where the Judge requires some assistance or further information on the Defendant before he can pass sentence.
  2. If the Judge decides that he does not need to have a formal Pre-sentence Report he can proceed straight to Sentence. In this scenario, the Judge will hear an outline of the facts from the Prosecution, before then hearing from the Defence barrister who will detail relevant information and mitigation. Sometimes, once the Judge has heard from the Prosecution and Defence, he will then ask questions if he feels that more information is needed. Once the Judge is satisfied that he has all the information that he needs, he will then pass Sentence.

As with all cases, what can take place is never quite as simple as the above can make it seem. There are times when the PTPH may happen differently. Having experienced solicitors and barristers does make all the difference though as whatever does happen can be dealt with as it arises.

With our level of expertise and specialism we are able to deal with any PTPH and the issues that may arise. If you need expert legal advice on the specifics of your case, contact us today to see how we can help.