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Flashcards in Criminal Courts + Lay People Deck (99):

what courts are involved in criminal trials?

magistrates court

crown court


how is it decided which court a trial will be held in?

depends on category of crime


what are the three categories of crime/offence?


triable either way



what are summary offences?

least serious crimes

always tried in the magistrates court

• minor driving offences
• common assault


where are summary offences tried?

always tried in the magistrates court - the lowest tier in the criminal justice system

usually in front of 3 lay (not legally qualified) magistrates with a legal advisor or a district judge


what is a triable either way offence?

mid range crime

can vary in the degree of harm caused

either tried in the crown court or magistrates court

• assault occasioning ABH
• theft


where will TEW offences be tried?

Either in the Magistrates Court or the Crown Court

Depending on how the defendant pleas as well as the complexity and seriousness of the offence


what is an indictable offence?

most serious crimes

always tried in the crown court

• Murder
• Manslaughter


basic info on magistrates court

lowest tier in criminal justice system, deals with the less serious crimes

made up of lay (not legally qualified) magistrates and some district judges, there is no jury

mags usually sit in threes while the judge sits alone


jurisdiction (powers) of the magistrates court

tries 97% of all cases, around 1 million a year - tries all summary offences and most TEW offences

determines guilt or innocence, if found guilty pass a sentence of up to 6 months imprisonment

conducts mode of trial proceedings for TEW offences to decide which court to try the case in

transfer proceedings for cases going up to the crown court

sends for trial hearings in indictable cases

issues search and arrest warrants

decides bail

responsible for the youth court which is a branch of the MC and deals with cases where D is aged between 10 and 17


where is an indictable offence tried?

Always tried in the Crown Court in front of a judge and jury due to the seriousness of the offence


basic info on crown court

deals with most serious criminal offences

cases are tried by a judge and a jury of 12 lay citizens

high court judges will try most serious offences while circuit judges or recorders will try all other offences


jurisdiction of the crown court

tries indictable offences and some either way offences

jury determines guilt or innocence and judge passes sentence if D is found guilty

deals with appeals from the MC against sentence or conviction

often deals with sentencing from the MC in cases where mags feel the most appropriate sentence is more severe than the power they have (limited sentencing powers of 6 months imprisonment) to give so will send the case up to the CC for sentencing as the judge can give longer sentences


what is a pre trial?

first hearing and plea before the trial begins


what is an early administrative hearing?

undertaken by a single magistrate

addresses issues of bail, legal aid, etc


what is the pre trial procedure for summary offences?

• Early Administrative Hearing - taken by a single magistrate who addresses issues regarding bail and legal aid

• Defendant will be asked if they plead guilty or not guilty

• If they plead guilty, the magistrates will sentence (with a limit of 6 months imprisonment)

• If they plead not guilty, a trial will take place where they'll listen to evidence presented by defence and prosecution. Verdict will be reached and if D is found guilty then the mags will pass a sentence of up to 6 months imprisonment


what is the pre trial procedure for TEW offences?

• Early Administrative Hearing

• Plea before venue - defendant will be asked whether they plead guilty or not guilty

• GUILTY PLEA = case is automatically heard in the MC and the magistrates will sentence the defendant OR they can choose to send the case to the Crown Court if they feel they lack the sentencing powers for this offence (they may think the offence deserves a more serious sentence)

• NOT GUILTY PLEA = mode of trial procedure where the magistrates will decide what court to try the case in, they'll consider whether or not they have the adequate jurisdiction and sentencing powers

ACCEPT JURISDICTION - D is given a choice as to which court to try their case in, if they choose the MC then a trial will take place, a verdict will be reached and if found guilty the mags will sentence but they can still send the case up to CC for sentencing if they wish

LACK JURISDICTION - transfer the case to the crown court for a trial by jury, jury will reach a verdict after listening to evidence presented in court. judge will pass a sentence if the defendant is found guilty


what is the pre trial procedure for indictable offences?

• Early Administrative Hearing

• Sending for trial procedure where the case will be transferred to the Crown Court

• The defendant will be asked whether they plead guilty or not guilty

• GUILTY PLEA = a sentence will be passed by a judge

• NOT GUILTY PLEA = a trial by jury will take place, the jury will listen to evidence presented in court by both sides and then reach a verdict. If found guilty, a sentence will be passed by the judge


4 reasons why a defendant may choose the Crown Court

• JURY - made up of ordinary citizens who decided guilt or innocence, they acquit approx 60% of defendants while magistrates convict 60% of defendants, means there’s a higher chance of being found not guilty in the CC, juries may also find it easier to empathise with defendants as they’re not case hardened

• EASIER TO FOLLOW - less daunting for defendants because a jury requires everything to be explained in everyday, accessible language to help them understand, also makes it clearer and easier for D to follow their own case and be sure of what is happening

• MORE TIME TO PREPARE - the wait for a CC trial is longer which gives D and their legal team more time to prepare their case which includes obtaining witness statements and gathering evidence to make the case as strong as possible

• MORE EXPERTISE - D will require a solicitor or barrister to advocate on their behalf, both of whom are legally trained and qualified and are therefore experts in advocacy, the judge in the CC is legally qualified whereas magistrates aren’t which in theory makes judges more efficient due to their case knowledge and experience


4 reasons why a defendant may choose the Magistrates Court

• LOWER SENTENCES - mags have limited sentencing powers of up to 6 months in prison which means D is far more likely to receive a lower sentence whereas there is a higher risk of receiving a larger sentence in the CC as judges have more powers

• SPEED - trials in MC tend to be completely very quickly, typically in under a day whereas trials in the CC take a very long time due to the need to slow everything down for juries, also if D is refused bail and placed on remand but then eventually found not guilty there is no compensation for the time awaiting trial which may be longer than the actual sentence

• LESS PUBLICITY - cases are of less interest to the public and are not often newsworthy whereas CC cases tend to be more ‘interesting’ and so will receive more publicity which can be very daunting and scary

• LESS DAUNTING - process of a trial in MC is much less daunting and intimidating as there are no barristers or judges in wigs and gowns, the whole trial tends to be more informal as it is not a serious offence


what is bail?

being released from custody while awaiting trial or sentencing

on the condition that they attend court or the police station when called upon to do so

can be granted by the courts (usually the MC) or the police


a person on bail can be...

charged and awaiting trial

convicted and awaiting sentencing

suspected of a crime and released while police investigate further


s.4 Bail Act 1976

states that there is a general right to unconditional bail


LASPO 2012

Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders

introduced the no real prospect test where bail must be given if there’s no real prospect that D will receive a custodial sentence


reasons for refusing bail

belief that they’d fail to appear

previously having failed to appear

likely to commit further offences while on bail

may interfere with witnesses or obstruct course of justice


factors that must be considered when deciding bail

nature and seriousness of offence

previous bail record

strength of evidence against D

antecedents of D


what must the courts do when deciding bail

balance the interests of...

• D, who is presumed innocent and entitled to liberty

• with the need to protect the public from a potentially dangerous criminal


what happens if bail is refused

D can...

• make one further application to the MC

• apply for bail at the CC if they were sent there for trial

• appeal against the refusal to a high court judge


what are some restrictions of bail

only the CC can grant bail for murder

if offence was committed on bail then bail can only be granted if courts are satisfied there is no risk of further reoffending

bail will only be granted in exceptional cases for serious offences like murder if D has already served a sentence for such a crime

restrictions on bail for adult class A drug users in certain circumstances under the CJA 2003

restrictions relating to terrorism - home detention under the prevention of terrorism act 2005


what are the 2 types of bail

• conditional - with restrictions

• unconditional - without restrictions


what are some conditions for bail


handing in passport


contact bans

reporting at police station


residence (at bail hostel, etc)

exclusion zones


what are appeals

chances for the appellant to have their case reviewed


reasons for appeals

• point of law - appealing because the judge or magistrates may have applied the law incorrectly or unfairly

• against conviction - D may appeal against being found guilty of a crime or the prosecution may appeal against D being found not guilty

• against sentence - appealing due to an unfair sentence that D wants reduced or prosecution may think the sentence is too lenient


what is jurisdiction at first instance

applies to courts that try the case


what is appellate jurisdiction

applies to courts that hear appeals

appeal routes differ depending on the court of first instance


purpose of appeals

• to correct errors - of fact, law or procedure. appellant may be unhappy with conviction or sentence

• to develop law - give opportunity for the law to develop according to doctrine of precedent and via the interpretation of statutes, keeps the law up to date and modern

• ensure consistency - enables courts to be consistent in the way they apply the law and carry out sentencing by highlighting potential errors


magistrates court appeal route

2 routes

• CROWN COURT - appeal by defence against sentence or conviction, appeal is heard by a judge and two mags, court reviews evidence again and CC decision is final, no further route of appeal unless by way of case stated

• QUEEN’S BENCH DIVISIONAL COURT - appeal by either side by way of case sated, an appeal on a point of law, no need to review evidence again

• SUPREME COURT - appeal from queen’s bench to supreme court on a point of law of general public importance, no further route of appeal, SC decision is final


crown court appeal route

1 route

COURT OF APPEAL (criminal division)
• D may appeal against sentence or conviction, leave to appeal must be granted by the trial judge in the CC or the CA itself, CA can hear the appeal and order a retrial or quash the conviction
• prosecution may appeal against an unduly lenient sentence or if they’re concerned about an acquittal or a ruling on law, can appeal to HC to order a retrial if evidence of jury tampering, can appeal if there’s new and compelling evidence

SUPREME COURT - both sides can appeal but must be on a point of law of general public importance, CA must certify this and either the CA or SC must give permission to appeal, very few cases reach the SC, no further route

• CCRC (Criminal Cases Review Commission) may refer cases back to the CA after all route of appeal have been used if there’s evidence of a miscarriage of justice


sentencing powers of....

• mags
• CC judges

magistrates - up to 6 months imprisonment for one offence

judges in the CC - impose up to life imprisonment for some crimes


sentencing council

responsible for preparing and monitoring sentencing guidelines to ensure greater consistency in sentencing

consistency - people with similar backgrounds, committing similar offences in similar circumstances should receive similar sentences

judges must stay within the range set by the council (eg sentencing for robbery with serious injury starts at 8 years and the range is between 7 and 12 years)


tariff system

judges rely on the tariff system when sentencing

a tariff sentence is the sentence considered appropriate for that offence and is the starting point but may be lowered based on mitigating factors or raised based on aggravating factors


5 aims of sentencing

set out in s.142 CJA 2003

• punishment

• reduction of crime

• rehabilitation

• protection of public

• reparation


what is punishment?

involves retribution and revenge for wrongdoing

based on proportionality, punishment should fit the crime (eye for an eye)

contains an element of society’s outrage at the crime committed

eg life sentence for a murder


what is reduction of crime?

involves 2 types of deterrence but also rehabilitation to reduce/prevent future crime

• individual deterrence - aimed at a particular offender to put them off reoffending by threatening imprisonment or giving a severe sentence

• general deterrence - giving out exemplary sentences to put society off committing crimes, may be harsher than tariff sentence and can be unjust


what is rehabilitation

aims to reform offender to prevent them from reoffending

attempts to help them reintegrate back into society rather than punish them

focused on the long term by looking at the offenders potential to reform

accepted that custodial sentences have little rehabilitative effect

eg drug or alcohol rehabilitation treatment


what is public protection

protects public from potentially dangerous criminals by preventing offender from being able to commit more crimes

eg imprisonment or curfew


what is reparation

considers victim

aims to achieve justice and make amends for damage done

eg compensation orders


factors in sentencing

must be considered

• aims of sentencing

• seriousness of crime + type of offence

• antecedents of offender

• motive

• sentencing guidelines + tariff sentence

• early guilty plea - can reduced sentence by up to a third

• aggravating and mitigating factors


aggravating factors

factors that make the offence more serious and increase the sentence

• previous conditions for similar offences
• offences involving racist, religious, ableist, etc hostility
• vulnerable victim
• gang related offence
• abuse of trust
• use of a weapon
• repeated attacks
• under the influence
• while on bail


mitigating factors

factors that make the offence less serious and reduce the sentence

• first offence
• D is very young or very old
• D is vulnerable and easily influenced
• D expressed remorse, made efforts to make amends with V
• D has difficult circumstances
• plead guilty at first opportunity
• provocation by V


4 types of sentences

custodial - imprisonment, only for most serious offences that are “so serious that neither a fine nor a community sentence can be justified”

community orders - CJA 2003 allows judges to combine community orders depending on offence and needs of offender

financial sentences - most common type, in 2015 72% of all offenders received a fine, courts set amount depending on how much offender can pay and seriousness of crime, £5000 cap was removed from MC in 2015

discharges - for least serious offences


6 types of custodial sentences

• mandatory life sentence - judge must state minimum number of years the offender must serve before being eligible for release, under CJA 2003 starting points range from 12 years to a whole life term, LASPO 2012 allows these sentences to be given for a second serious sexual or violent crime

• discretionary life sentence - available for other serious offences, judge has ded region in imposing a lesser sentence if appropriate

• fixed term sentence - imprisonment for a set number of months or years, prisoners serve half of the sentence and are then released

• extended sentences - introduced by LASPO 2012, judges decide how long an offender should stay in prison and also fixes and extended license period of up to 8 years, offender is entitled to release after serving at least 2/3 of their sentence by release is not automatic

• home detention curfews - early release from prison on condition that a curfew is included, available for those serving between 3 months and 4 years, a privilege under Crime and Disorder Act 1998

• suspended sentence - sentence is not activated unless offender commits a further offence within a given period of up to 2 years, can be combined with community orders


5 types of community orders

unpaid work - community service between 40-300 hours over a 12 month period, probation service organises a suitable project, rehabilitative as it focuses on helping the community

supervision - probation officer to supervise offender for up to 3 years, attend regular meetings and undertake work to promote personal and behavioural change

drug/alcohol treatment - aims to tackle the causes of crime and prevent it, requires offenders consent and can last between 6 and 36 months

curfew requirements - can be ordered to remain at a fixed address for a certain number of hours each day, can last a year and may be enforced by electronic tagging

prohibited activity - prevented from participating in certain activities for a certain period of time


financial sentences

fines - sum of money payed to the state, can act as a deterrent

compensation orders - money payed to the victim for property damage or injury



unconditional discharge - no penalty imposed, experience of court is enough punishment, offender still gets a criminal record

conditional discharge - offender is discharged on condition that they do not commit another offence during a set period of up to 3 years, if they do they can be sentence for the new offence as well as the old one


evaluation of sentencing

imprisonment is most serious punishment in the UK but does not always deter further offending

according to gov statistics, 45% of adults released from custody in 2015 reordered within one year, only 32% of those given community orders reoffended within a year

suggests adults given prison sentences are much more likely to reoffend

evidence suggests shorter prison sentences may be ineffective and could be replaced with community order instead, 60% of adults who served less than 12 months reoffended


evaluation of sentencing

although prison population has been fairly stable since 2011, it is still the highest in europe

overcrowding in prisons can lead to rioting and violence and seen in the 2016 prison riots

average cost of prisoner per day is £89 which is very expensive considering how big our prison population is

suggests less custodial sentences should be used and other alternatives should be considered due to the already overcrowded prison system that costs a lot to maintain


evaluation of sentencing

seems to be inconsistency in sentencing between men and women

in 2016, there were only around 4000 women in prison compared with 82,000 men

for indictable offences women are less likely to be given custodial sentences - unfair

HOWEVER, women sent to prison are often victims of domestic violence and sexual abuse so are more likely to suffer mental health problems which should be taken into consideration when sentencing

another thing to consider is that the effect of imprisonment on women can be very damaging to children, over 17,000 kids are separated from their mother ever year due to imprisonment


evaluation of sentencing

protect that public by preventing offender from reoffending and committing further offences by imprisoning them

also act as a deterrent which prevents future crime

HOWEVER, reoffending rates for those given custodial sentences is very high because prison does nothing to rehabilitate the offender, in 2015 45% of adults released from custody reoffended within a year


lay magistrates basic info

not legally qualified

date back centuries, provide continuity with the past

allow ordinary people to become involved in the legal system by administering the law within their own communities

sit in threes in the MC, one is a chairperson


lay magistrates qualifications

6 points

do not require legal qualifications

need certain qualities and characteristics such as good character, communication, maturity, sound judgment and social awareness

must be aged between 18 and 65 when they apply

must be able to commit to 26 half day sessions each year

expected to live and work near court

cannot be a magistrate if they’ve had serious criminal convictions, have a conflict of interests, a health condition that will interfere with duties, etc


who recruits magistrates?

LAC (Local Advisory Committee) made up of former magistrates and key community leaders recruit new magistrates

LAC tries to produce a balanced bench that reflects a cross section of society and features a wide range of occupations and ethnicities


magistrates selection and recruitment process

vacancies are advertised, candidates fill in application form and give 2 references

LAC conducts a two stage interview process:

1. first interview assessed personal attributes of candidate, identifies whether they have the key qualities needed, explores attitudes to various criminal justice issues such as youth crime

2. second interview involves discussion of at least 2 case studies typical of the MC to test potential judicial aptitude eg asking what type of sentence should be imposed


lay magistrates appointment

LAC submits names of suitable candidates to the Senior Presiding Judges for England and Wales

candidates appear in court and swear the oath of allegiance

once appointed, mags can serve until the age of 70


lay magistrates training basics

supervised by the Magisterial Committee of the Judicial College

MNTI (Magistrates New Training Initiative) provides framework for training, appraisal and competence

BTDCs (Bench Training and Development Committees) provide training

(all mags follow the same syllabus and must achieve the same competencies to ensure consistency in sentencing)


training framework and syllabus for magistrates

FRAMEWORK (divided into 4 areas of competence)
• managing yourself
• working in a team
• making judicial decisions
• managing judicial decision making (relevant for chairpersons only)

SYLLABUS (divided into 3 parts)
• initial introductory training
• core training
• activities such as observing court sittings


training of magistrates (extra info)

• personal development log - each new mag keeps on to log progress and has a mentor, in first 2 years around 8-11 court sittings will be mentored and during this the mag should attend 7 training sessions

• appraisal - takes place after 2 years to check they’ve acquired competencies, continue every 3 years

• additional training - can be undertaken to work in the youth court or become a chairperson


roles of lay magistrates

try 97% of all criminal cases, around 2 million a year

conduct early administrative hearings

issue search and arrest warrants

try all summary offences from beginning to end - determined guilt or innocence and pass sentence of up to 6 months if guilty

try some either way offences - deal with plea before venue, mode of trial hearings, etc

specially trained mags deal with defendants aged between 10 and 17 in the youth court


4 advantages of using lay magistrates


local knowledge

legal advisor

few appeals


lay magistrates advantages

• An advantage of using lay magistrates is that they possess local knowledge of the area they serve in

• They must live or work in the area, so they would have awareness of local events, issues, patterns of crime and local opinions - a judge is unlikely to have this

• Ensures local justice is given by local people who want to help the area they live in

• FOR EXAMPLE = In the DPP v Paul case in 1989, a man was charged with kerb crawling and the court had to decide whether this would be "likely to cause a nuisance". The mags knew the neighbourhood well, knowing it was a residential area where kerb crawling had become an issue and so convicted the offender

• HOWEVER, this may lead to injustice from magistrates who may be prejudice towards the area they live in, giving a bias judgment and sentencing more severely for issues affecting them.


lay magistrates advantages

• An advantage is that they're a cost effective way of dealing with criminal cases

• Lay magistrates are unpaid volunteers and are therefore cheap for the government, saving them around £100 million a year

• They deal with 97% of all criminal trials. It would take a lot of district judges to replace them and this would cost a huge amount of money because judges and lawyers are legally qualified and paid a lot of money each year

• However, some may argue that using a judge instead of magistrates is more efficient. This is because they are legally qualified and have a better understanding of the law. They also have more overall training and experience


lay magistrates advantages

• There are very few appeals against the magistrates decisions

• Only around 11,000 out of 1.5 million cases are appealed. This reinforces that despite their 'amateur status', they actually do a really good and consistent job.

• Most appeals are from the defendant wanting a reduced sentence, not because the magistrates have applied the law incorrectly or have made an unfair conviction

• HOWEVER, there are some people who appeal due to the magistrates applying the law incorrectly which wouldn't be done if district judges carried out all of the trials. It's argued that they are more efficient.


lay magistrates advantages

• A further advantage is that there is a legal advisor who is legally trained in the magistrates court

• This means they can be advised very well on legal matters, ensuring consistency in how the law is applied and enforced via giving verdict and sentencing. This also overcomes criticism that magistrates are not legally qualified.

• HOWEVER, in the case of R v Eccles Justices in 1992, the magistrates relied too heavily on the legal advisor. Meaning it wasn't their judgment given but more so the decision of the advisor. The verdict was later then overturned on appeal.


4 disadvantages of lay magistrates

• unrepresentative

• judges are more efficient

• over reliance on legal advisor

• inconsistency in sentencing


lay magistrates disadvantages

• magistracy claims to be diverse but most magistrates are middle aged and middle class, the average mag is 50 years old and often retired from a professional background

• may mean they do not have any real knowledge of certain issues in poorer areas and will be unable to empathise, may even be prejudiced or biased as they cannot relate or understand their circumstances

• however, they are becoming more diverse and now around 53% are female


lay magistrates disadvantages

• some may argue that using a judge instead of magistrates is more efficient

• this is because they are legally qualified and have a better understanding of the law, they also have more overall training and experience

• one judge is needed to replace 3 magistrates and it’s also simpler to have one full time judge rather than organising a rota of part tine magistrates who may have availability issues


lay magistrates disadvantages

• mags do not have legal qualifications or vast knowledge so tend to rely on legal advisors which defeats the point of having mags to begin with

• their final decision may not be their own as it was influenced by the legal advisor

• in the case of R v Eccles Justices in 1992, the magistrates relied too heavily on the legal advisor. Meaning it wasn't their judgment given but more so the decision of the advisor. The verdict was later then overturned on appeal.


lay magistrates disadvantages

• due to lack of legal qualifications and experience there seems to be inconsistency in sentencing

• demonstrates how mags can be quite ineffective

• in 2013, the sentencing of the magistrates was describes as a “postcode lottery” due to the variations in sentences in different areas


basic info on juries

made up of 12 lay people (ordinary, legally unqualified)

used in the crown court

determine guilt or innocence based of evidence presented to them in court

have been used for over 1000 years and allow ordinary citizens to get involved in the legal system


quotes about juries

the lamp that shows that freedom lives - Lord Devlin

the glory of the english law - Sir William Blackstone


jury qualifications

set out in the Juries Act 1974
• aged between 18 and 75
• on the electoral register
• resident of the U.K. for at least 5 years since the age of 13


when will someone be disqualified from jury service

permanent disqualification:
• sentenced to life imprisonment
• imprisoned for public protection
• prison sentence of 5 years or more

10 years disqualification:
• prison sentence of less than 5 years
• suspended sentence or community order


when will someone be ineligible to serve as a juror

mentally disordered


when may a person be discharged or excused from being a juror

• lack of capacity to cope with trial e.g. not adequately understanding english or being deaf/blind

• full time serving member of the forces
• pregnant
• exams
• pre booked holiday

anyone can asked to be excused or deferred, a deferral is when someone serves at a later date


jury selection process

JCSB (Jury Central Summoning Bureau) are responsible for summoning jurors by randomly selecting names from the electoral register

a letter (summons) will be sent in the post and those summoned must notify the court if they cannot attend, failure to attend is a criminal offence

jurors are divided into groups of 15 and allocated a court

clerk selects 12 of the 15 at random for trail, remainder wait as back up

vetting may take place - check jurors for suitability via routine police checks or even wider background checks, requires permission from Attorney General

panel of 12 come into jury box and are sworn in as jurors

prosecution and defence both have rights to challenge one or more jurors:
• challenge to the array - challenge the whole jury eg for being unrepresentative and potentially bias
• challenge for cause - challenge an indivisible juror eg due to incapacity or connection with case


what is prosecution right to stand by (juries)

jurors who’ve been challenged are put to the end of the list of potential jurors so won’t be used in a jury unless there are not enough jurors


role of juries

used in around 30,000 cases a year which is around 2% of all criminal cases

listen to evidence presented to them in court and should not take into account outside info such as on social media

determine guilt or innocence of defendant, do not need to give reasons

listen to advice and summing up from the judge

retire to jury room after trial to discuss case in private

should come to a unanimous decision or a majority of at least 10 if necessary


4 advantages of juries

secrecy of jury room


open system of justice

public confidence in system


4 disadvantages of juries

secrecy of jury room

lack of understanding


jury tampering


advantage of juries

jury room is free from any pressure in its discussion as it is in private and can ignore the strict letter of the law if they believe its wrong or unfair

the Criminal Justice and Courts Act 2015 makes it a criminal offence to intentionally disclose, solicit or obtain information discussed in the jury room


advantages of juries

jury members are not connected with anyone involved in the case

chosen at random which results in a cross section of society and eliminates the possibility of biased selection

12 members should stop prejudices becoming a deciding factor since they should come to a unanimous decision, unlikely that all 12 will be biased

however, it may be difficult to get an impartial jury in cases which have had a lot of publicity. they may be influenced by the media


advantages of juries

allows ordinary people to take part in the administration of justice which can empower them and encourage engagements

case needs to be explained simply and clearly so the jury can fully understand which also makes it easier for the defendant to follow their own case and makes it more accessible to the public


advantages of juries

juries are regarded as one of the fundamental indicators of a democratic system

lord devlin said they’re “the lamp that shows that freedom lives” because it means ordinary people can get involved instead of the state doing all of the charging, convicting and sentencing


disadvantages of juries

jury discussion is private and they do not need to give reasons for their decisions

makes it hard for D to appeal as there is no way to know how the decision was reached or whether the case was properly understood


disadvantages of juries

juries lack the legal qualifications and experience of judges

no minimum educational requirements and this may result in some jurors having difficulty understanding cases which may lead to unfair decisions being made which is a huge problem, especially if someone’s liberty is at stake

research shows doubts on around 5% of jury convictions

these doubts are illustrated further by the fact that juries have been removed from most fraud cases due to the complex nature of evidence that they’d have trouble understanding


disadvantages of juries

jury trials are time consuming and costly, the trial takes considerably longer and everything needs to be carefully explained to the jury and sometimes the jury has to leave the court so a legal argument can take place

long trial costs the courts as the defendants lots of money

would be quickly and cheaper to just have one judge


disadvantages of juries

sometimes jury members may be bribed or threatened

this leads to skewed and unfair decisions being made

prosecution can apply for a trial without jury but this just goes to show that juries are unnecessary and risky to use since they can be tampered with


advantages of secrecy of jury room

• free from pressure during discussions and protected from pressures outside

• people may be less willing to serve on a jury if the jury room was not secret, if they knew their discussions were public they may not want to serve due to possible repercussions

• allows the jury freedom to ignore the strict letter of the law if they believe the law is wrong or unfair


disadvantages of secrecy of jury room

• no reasons need to be given for the verdict which makes it difficult to appeal

• the 2015 act does not allow disclosure of any information, even if it’s in the interests of justice eg if a juror’s behaviour was a misconduct

• if misconduct happens in the jury room then no one will ever know it happened