The Crown Court is the appropriate venue to resolve the most serious of all criminal cases. The Crown Court will deal with cases “sent” to the Crown Court for trial by the Magistrates Court because the offence in question is “indictable only” which by its very nature, can only be dealt with by the Magistrates Court. Examples would be Murder, Manslaughter, Rape and Robbery.
The Crown Court can also deal with what are termed as “either way” offences, which are cases which can be heard in the Magistrates Court or Crown Court and in this case, have been committed to Crown Court for trial and or sentence. To determine the appropriate venue, a “mode of trial” hearing will take place to establish whether the offence or offences before the Magistrates Court are so serious, that the Crown Court is the appropriate venue to conclude matters.
Defendants can also find themselves at the Crown Court if they have been convicted following a trial or have pleaded guilty at the Magistrates Court, and the Court determines that their sentencing powers are insufficient. The Magistrates Court will then “commit” the case to the Crown Court, which has greater sentencing powers.
The final category of cases that can be dealt with at the Crown Court are Appeals to the Crown Court following decisions or findings of fact against the defendant at the Magistrates Court, for example being convicted of an offence following a trial and the defendant wishes to appeal to the Crown Court either the finding of guilt, the sentence imposed by the Magistrates, or both.
The Crown Court can also deal with appeals against orders imposed by the Magistrates such as disqualifications from driving or anti-social behaviour orders. Having heard any appeal, the Crown Court can determine whether the Court is willing to allow the appeal and to vary all or any part of the sentence, or to formally acquit the defendant of the original matter to which they were found guilty at the magistrates Court. Such appeals are usually heard by a Circuit Judge sitting with between two to four Magistrates.
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