Crown Court – if you are over 18
If you are over the age of 18, there are two reasons why your case may be heard at the Crown Court:
1) You have pleaded guilty in the Magistrates’ Court and the Magistrates have decided that their powers on sentencing are not enough.
2) You entered a not guilty plea (or gave no indication of plea) and the Magistrates decided that your case was too serious to be dealt with by them.
Crown Court – if you are under 18
If you are under the age of 18, you may find yourself at the Crown Court because you are jointly charged with an adult defendant and the adult defendant’s case may be too serious for the Magistrates’ Court. Or you may be at the Crown Court if your case is too serious for the youth court, but this is quite rare, and you will be fully advised if this becomes a possibility.
Your first Crown Court hearing
Your first hearing at the Crown Court is usually 4 weeks (less if you are under 18) after you appear in the Magistrates’ Court. This hearing is called the Preliminary Hearing.
If you wish to plead guilty at this hearing, you will receive full credit (33% discount) from your sentence and the case may either be sentenced there and then or you may be adjourned for three weeks for the Probation Service to prepare a report about you. If you are under 18 the court could send your case back to the Youth Court for sentence.
Pleading not guilty
If you do not wish to plead guilty, then no plea is entered and your case is given a timetable. This timetable provides a date for the Prosecution papers to be served, for you to provide a defence statement to the court and prosecution and for a Plea and Case Management Hearing (PCMH) to be listed. Sometimes a trial date is also fixed. Briefly, a Defence Statement is a document outlining your defence and the reasons why you are saying you are not guilty.
Plea and Case Management Hearings
At the Plea and Case Management Hearing, you will formally enter your plea (guilty or not guilty) and again your case will either be adjourned for sentence or trial.
Case Management is strictly monitored by the Judges at the Crown Court and it is therefore really important that you keep in touch with your Solicitors. As with the Magistrates’ Court, if you fail to attend at any of your hearings, the Court will issue a warrant for your arrest.
Please note that this is a broad summary of the general procedure only. Each case is different and you will be advised accordingly. If you have any queries, or wish to be represented at Court or the Police Station, please feel free to contact our specialist criminal defence solicitors on 0116 254 8871 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org