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Categories of criminal offence

" There are three categories of criminal offence. Summary offences, tried without a jury, are minor crimes only triable in the Magistrates' Court. Indictable offences are serious crimes such as murder, which can only be heard in the Crown Court. The formal document containing the alleged offences, supported by facts, is called the indictment. A case which can be heard in either the Magistrates' Court or the Crown Court, such as theft or burglary, is triable either way. If the defendant pleads guilty, the Magistrates, Court can either proceed to sentence or commit to the Crown Court for sentence, where more severe penalties are available. If there is a not guilty plea, the court can decide the mode of trial. The person charged may request a trial by jury. If granted, such trials take place in the Crown Court."


Criminal court proceedings

" The English system of justice is adversarial, which means that each side collects and presents their own evidence and attacks their opponent's by cross-examination. In criminal trial, the burden of proof is on the prosecution to prove beyond reasonable doubt that the accused is guilty. A person accused or under arrest for an offence may be granted bail and temporarily released.

However, bail may be refused, for example if there are grounds for believing that the accused would fail to appear for trial or commit an offence. In the Crown Court, there may be a preparatory hearing for a complex case before the jury is sworn in. Prior to the trial, there is a statutory requirement for disclosure by the prosecutor and defence of material relevant со the case, for example details of any alibis - people who can provide proof of the accused's whereabouts at the time of the crime – or witnesses – people who may have seen something relevant to the crime. Once a trial has begun, the defendant may he advised by counsel to change his or her plea to guilty, in expectation of a reduced sentence. If, at the end of the trial, the court's verdict is not guilty, then the defendant is acquitted."


Answer the questions.

1. Who investigates crimes?

2. Who sentences people?

3. Who decides if someone innocent or guilty?

4. Who defends people and presents evidence?

5. Who commits crimes?


Fill the gaps with suitable words.

1. The police were fairly sure the man committed the crime, but they knew it would be difficult to................ it in court.

2. The jury must decide if the accused is innocent or....................

3. In order to reach their decision, the jury must listen to the...................

4. If the accused is............... of murder, the............... may be at least ten years in prison.

5. He has been in trouble with the police once before, but it was only a minor...........

Complete the definitions.

1 а....................................... - a court document authorising the police to

detain someone.

2 an................ - a written statement with details of the crimes someone is charged with.

3 a................. - a formal order to attend court.

Make word combinations using, words from the box. Then use appropriate word combinations to complete the sentences below.

criminal severe realistic defence
doubt indictable guilty penalties
sentence plea reasonable offences
costs proceedings reduced prospect


1 The Crown Prosecutor considers whether there's sufficient evidence to provide a.............................................. of conviction.

2 There should be no conviction without proof beyond...................................

3 The Crown Court always hears........................... such as manslaughter.

4 In sentencing serious crimes, courts can impose........................................

5 At the end of a trial, a defendant may be ordered to pay a contribution towards...................................

Replace the underlined words and phrases with alternative words and phrases.

Pay attention to the grammatical context. There is more than one possibility for one of the answers.

a Bail may be refused and the defendant may be (1) held in police custody.

b Alternatively, the defendant may be (2) found not guilty by the court and discharged.

с Once proceedings have been initiated, the defendant (3) comes before the court.

d The police formally (4) accuse the suspect in the police station.

e If the offender pleads guilty in the Magistrates' Court, the court imposes a (5) punishment.

f The police investigate a serious offence and (6) arrest a suspect.

g The suspect may ask for (7) release from custody before the trial.

6. Put the sentences in 5 into the correct order chronologically. " f" is the first.

Put this story in the correct order.

1 they found both men guilty.

2 and charged them with the robbery.

3 £ 10, 000 was stolen from a bank in the High Street.

4 After the jury had listened to all the evidence

5 They were sent to prison for seven years.

6 The trial took place two month later.

7 and the finally arrested two men.

8 They questioned them at the police station

9 The police questioned a number of people about the crime


Read this story, then write down your response to the questions below, based on your knowledge of the law in your own country.


Two fifteen-year-old boys broke into a house in the middle

of the day when the owner was out, and took money and

jewellery worth about £ 900. The owner reported

the crime to the police when she returned

home at 6pm.



1 Will the police investigate the crime?

2 How will they investigate? What will they do?

3 Do you think the police will catch the two boys?

4 If they do, what crime will they be charged with?

5 Can the boys be sent to prison?

6 What do you think the sentence would be?


Describe the process of a criminal trial in your legal system.


Civil Procedure Rules

Alisdair Hannah, a barrister, is talking to a visiting group of young European lawyers.

" All cases concerning goods, property, debt repayment, breach of contract (with some exceptions such as insolvency proceedings and non-contentious litigation ), are subject to Civil Procedure Rules. The Rules, which came into force in 1999 in England and Wales, mode radical changes to civil process in the County Court and The High Court.

The judge performs the role of case manager. The court sets a timetable for litigation with the parties being under an obligation to the court to adhere to timescales which control the progress of the ease. Procedure rules are supplemented by derailed instructions made by the judge which support the rules, known as practice directions. "

Proceeding with a claim

" Most claims are initiated by the use of a claim form, which functions as a summons. The claim form can be used for different types of claim, for example for specified or unspecified monetary sums, or for the claimant to ask the court to make an order. Once a claim has been issued, a copy is served on, that is, delivered to, the defendant with a response pack inviting them to either admit the claim, using a form of admission, or to defend it, using a form of defence.

The response pack also contains an acknowledgement of service form to confirm receipt of the claim, and a counterclaim form for the defendant to use if their wish to claim against the claimant. A defendant must respond within 14 days of service of the particulars of the claim. If the defendant does not respond, judgment may be given in favour of the claimant. The defendant may be able to get a time extension for filing a reply on defence by using the part of the acknowledgement of service form which states an intention to defend the claim.

Cases are allocated to a regime or track by procedural judge according to their monetary value. Claims of £ 5, 000 or less are allocated to a small claims track while claims of up to £ 15, 000 are allocated to a fast track. More complex claims with a greater value are allocated to a multi track regime.

Fast track directions might include disclosure, where the claimant tells the defence of any relevant documents in their possession. This is followed by inspection, initiated by a written request by the claimant to look at relevant documents held by the defence, and an exchange of witness statements.

The multi track regime is intended to be flexible and does not have a standard procedure. In all regimes, parties are encouraged to settle their differences and for this purpose a stay in proceedings, that is, a temporary halt, may be agreed. Case management conferences arc often conducted by telephone and give parties the opportunity to review the process and make decisions. If a defendant is ordered to pay by a judge and fails to do so, the claimant can enforce the judgment in the Magistrates' Court."


Complete the definitions.

1 - the process by which a claimant may look at written evidence held by the defence.

2 -the document in which the defendant makes a claim against the claimant.

3 - the document in which the defendant agrees to the claim made by the claimant.

4 - the document starting a claim proceedings.

5 - the process by which the claimant is required to inform the defendant of documents they hold relevant to the claim.

6 -the document giving evidence by someone who saw or heard

something critical to the case.
7 - the instructions given by a judge on how procedures should be

earned out in a case.


2. Make word combinations using a word from each box. Then use appropriate word combinations and information to answer the questions below.

admit agree to allocate enforce file issue review serve set settle a timetable a stay a claim the process the judgment a claim a claim on a regime differences a reply

1 How does the proceeding start?

2 What must a defendant do when he or she has been served with a claim?

3 If both parties want time to try to settle the dispute out of court, what should they ask the court to do?

4 What is the purpose of a case management conference?

5 If a defendant isordered to pay a claimant's costs but does not, what action can the claimant take?




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