Crown Court Proceedings Pre Trial

S 51 of the Crime and Disorder Act states that indictable only offences must be sent to the Crown Court along with related lesser offences after the defendant has made an initial appearance at the magistrates' court. A trial on indictment covers indictable offences and either way offences that that the magistrates have sent to the Crown Court. As already stated pre trial disclosure of evidence that would weaken prosecution case and strengthen defence case is expected and so is service of a defence case statement.  The disclosure rules under the CPIA 1996 have been disclosed as above. Preparatory work undertaken by you on behalf of your client would include

  • Interview client and prepare a proof of evidence
  • Contact CPS and request advance information, custody record and copy of interviews and tape
  • Interview potential defence witnesses
  • Visit crime scene and take pictures and interview witnesses and take statements

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Plea and case management hearing (PCMH) SS 39-43 CPIA 1996

All cases to be heard on indictment will have a plea and case management hearing. The defendant enters their plea. On a plea of not guilty a sentence will follow unless the case needs to be adjourned for a pre sentence report.  Where the defendant pleads not guilty the judge would require details of witnesses to give oral evidence, written evidence, facts formally admitted, expert evidence and the estimated length of trial. You must let the prosecution know which witnesses you would want to attend trial to be cross examined. Please see the Plea and Case Management Hearing Advocates questionnaire attached.

Briefing counsel

This is a very important part of preparing for trial. Counsel will need to be briefed before the Plea and Case Management Hearing. It is important to check that the barrister you instruct to represent client at pre trial stage can also represent he client at trial as this provides some consistency for the client and advice given. A brief to counsel would normally be headed with the title, number and type of case and the list of enclosures will include the defendant's proof of evidence, draft indictment, committal papers and all correspondence with the CPS. In the main body of the brief, state the defendant's personal details, outline the prosecution case, summarise the defence case outlining all strengths and weaknesses. It is usual to then outline what advice you seek from counsel. This could be in relation to points of law, witnesses or drafting the defence case statement. It may be that a conference with counsel needs to be scheduled either before or after the hearing. Any advice that counsel gives in response must be followed by you and this may well include further interview with witnesses or letter to be drafted to the CPS.