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Criminal Cases in the Magistrates Court
Glossary

Glossary

Acquittal

The result if the case is not “proven beyond reasonable doubt”. Often referred to as “not guilty”.

 

Alleged

All offences for which a defendant appears before a court are “alleged” until they are proved beyond reasonable doubt.

 

Bail

Release from custody with an agreement to attend court on a fixed date.

 

Charged

When details of an alleged offence(s) is read to the defendant, normally at a Police Station, and he is given the opportunity to reply. This will normally lead to a court appearance.

 

Committal

The procedure whereby Magistrates can send a defendant to Crown Court for trial.

 

Committed

A defendant who is awaiting trail at Crown Court.

 

Convictions

A list of offences for which the person concerned has previously been found guilty in a court of law.

 

Criminal Record

Similar to Convictions but will also include details of sentences passed, such as fines, imprisonment, community orders etc.

 

Cross-examination

Further questioning of a witness by the defence or prosecution solicitor after they have given their initial evidence to the side that called them as a witness ie. the prosecution or defence

 

Crown Prosecution

Service

The organisation responsible for undertaking the prosecution of most cases that appear before the courts and deciding whether or not the case should go to court.

 

Custody

Imprisonment prior to conviction. Often in a Police Station or remand centre.

 

 

Defence

The evidence presented by a defendant or his representative to disprove the alleged offence. Can also refer to the team of solicitors and barristers who represent the defendant.

 

Defendant

The person accused of committing an offence(s).

 

Detention

Has the same meaning as “Custody” (see above)

 

Disorderly

A disturbance or something that upsets the order of society. Often related to the unruly behaviour of individuals, who if drunk commit the offence of being Drunk & Disorderly.

 

District Judge

The new name for a Stipendiary Magistrate. A person qualified in law who can judge minor cases on their own.

 

Evidence

Information placed before a court in order to assist in deciding whether or not the defendant(s) have committed the alleged offence(s).

 

Forensic

Literally means “of courts of law”, but has come to be used in the phrase Forensic Evidence to mean items that have been recovered from the crime scene or elsewhere by the use of various scientific techniques, such as fingerprints, DNA, fibres etc.

 

Guilty

The case against the defendant has been “proven beyond reasonable doubt”. The verdict is normally “case proven” when given by a magistrate but “guilty” when given by a Judge and Jury.

 

Hearing

The normal term for a trial at a Magistrates' Court.

 

Indictable offences

A type of crime that can only be tried at a Crown Court.

 

Integrity

Proven honesty.

 

Judicial duties

The role of judging cases alleged against a defendant.

 

Judiciary

The group name for all of the Magistrates and judges involved in the legal system.

 

Jury

Twelve people in a criminal trail and eight in a civil trial who are over 18 yrs of age and on the electoral register. Their job is to listen to the evidence and the advice from the Judge and deliver a verdict as to whether or not each alleged offence has been “proven beyond reasonable doubt”.

 

Justices

A group term for Magistrates (see below), a shortened version of Justices of the Peace.

 

Juveniles

Children and young persons under the age of 17yrs.

 

Lay Magistrate

A type of magistrate who is untrained in law, i.e. not a District Judge.

 

Magistrate

Also known a Justice of the Peace, they are responsible for hearing cases brought before the Magistrates Court . The can be either a Lay Magistrate or a District Judge (see above).

 

Mitigation

Why the crime took place and the defendants personal character and circumstances.

 

Not Guilty

When a case has not been “proven beyond reasonable doubt”. Often referred to as “case not proven” in magistrates courts.

 

Oath

A promise to tell the truth, which is given by a witness prior to giving their evidence. In the case of a Christian given with the right hand raised and the left hand resting on the Bible. Other regions use other holy books such as the Koran or have other rituals. Non-religious persons can make an “affirmation” which is a promise to tell the truth.

 

Offenders

Persons who have committed a crime or offence.

 

Plea

A statement made at the start of a trial by the defendant as to their guilt. It can be either “Guilty” or “Not Guilty”.

 

Preliminary Hearing

An initial hearing often without witnesses to decide whether or not there is a case to answer and whether or not the matters should proceed to trial.

 

Probation

An order that can be issued by a court normally as an alternative to imprisonment, that requires the behaviour and lifestyle of a person convicted of a crime to supervised by the Probation Service for a stated period of time.

 

Prosecution

The process of bringing a defendant before a court and presenting evidence to prove that he has committed the alleged offences or crimes. It can also refer to the group of solicitors and barristers involved in the process.

 

Psychiatric report

A report on the mental condition of the defendant which can be called for by the court prior to passing sentence.

 

Quarterly

Happens once every three months.

 

Stipendiary Magistrate

The old term for a District Judge (see above).

 

 

 

Summons

A document sent to a defendant giving details of the offences or crimes it is alleged they have committed and the details of the time and place that they should attend Magistrates' court.

 

Trial

The process whereby evidence is presented before Magistrates or a Judge and Jury, in order that a decision can be made as to whether or not the Prosecution have proven the defendants' guilt beyond reasonable doubt.

 

Victim

A person who is subjected to a crime committed by another person.

 

Witness

A person who has information that they can give to a court concerning the alleged offence or crime that is being tried.

 

©Coleg Llandrillo Cymru 2004. Contact: www.llandrillo.ac.uk (new window)