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NCJRS Abstract

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NCJ Number: 137122 Find in a Library
Title: Magistrates' Court or Crown Court? Mode of Trial Decision and Sentencing
Author(s): C Hedderman; D Moxon
Corporate Author: Home Office Research Unit
United Kingdom
Date Published: 1992
Page Count: 53
Sponsoring Agency: Her Majesty's Stationery Office
Norwich, NR3 1GN,
Home Office Research Unit
London, England SW1
Publication Number: ISBN 011-341036-0
Sale Source: Her Majesty's Stationery Office
PO Box 29
Norwich, NR3 1GN,
United Kingdom
Type: Survey
Language: English
Country: United Kingdom
Annotation: A study was conducted to determine the reasons for differences in severity of sentencing for convicted offenders handled by the Crown Court versus magistrates' courts.
Abstract: Using data from court records, the characteristics of cases were identified for the three types of trial categories: cases dealt with by magistrates' courts, those in which defendants elected trial, and those in which magistrates declined jurisdiction. Data from interviews with defendants and solicitors was examined to assess the reasons for the mode of trial decision and especially the reasons why so many of those who chose to be dealt with at the Crown Court ultimately pleaded guilty. The overall differences in the sentencing practices of magistrates' courts and the Crown Court are examined in relation to each of the offence categories covered in the study. The high cost of Crown Court trial, both in terms of direct costs and the indirect costs of more severe sentences, and a higher remand population seem to offer few tangible benefits, particularly for the defendants. The fact that magistrates' courts in some areas manage to deal with a much higher proportion of either way cases than others, with no obvious difficulties, suggests that the scope for the Crown Prosecution Service and magistrates to agree on summary trial in many more cases is very considerable. Defendants and their legal advisors should opt for summary trial if they do not have the evidence to sustain a not guilty plea.
Main Term(s): Foreign courts
Index Term(s): Court delays; England; Sentencing trends; Trials
Note: Home Office Research Study No. 125
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