The Crown Court

December 16, 2019

I am the judge, and it is my job to interpret and uphold the law. Other people present during a trial at the Crown Court are the prosecution barrister and the defence barrister, usually with solicitors behind them taking notes, and the Jury. The defendant will sit in the dock and be present during the trial. It is at my discretion whether or not there is a public gallery. After the jury has been sworn in, I address them directly. I inform them it is for them to decide, if the evidence they are going to hear proves the defendant’s guilt. I also inform them that it is their job to consider the evidence, not the law, and that I will guide them if necessary on points of law. I am the next person to address the jury. I introduce myself and explain that I will appear on behalf of the prosecution in this case and my learned friend, who I name, appears on behalf of the defense. I then outline the prosecution case, explaining each offence and the evidence the jury will hear in proving this. I will state that it is the prosecution’s responsibility to prove beyond any reasonable doubt that the defendant is guilty of the offence that they are before the court for. I will introduce the first prosecution witness. I will then ask a series of questions with regards to the evidence they have given in a statement to the police. This is known as examination in chief. Upon completion of this, the defence may ask the witness a series of questions. This is known as cross-examination. Upon completion of the cross examination I may be given the opportunity to ask a further series of question the witness. This is known as re-examination. I will continue to call witnesses until all the witnesses have been called to the stand. I will announce to the court that this is the case for the prosecution. At this point in the case I may make an application of no case to answer to the judge stating that the prosecution has not raised sufficient evidence to prove that the defendant has committed the alleged offence. If he finds in favour of my application, he will instruct the jury to find the defendant not guilty and then he will release the defendant. This is an acquittal. If the Judge considers the prosecution has raised enough evidence then I will continue with my case. As with the prosecution barrister, I will introduce the witnesses, however, at this time they will be giving evidence for the defence. This will follow the same procedure of examination in chief, cross-examination and then re-examination. At the end I will declare that was the case of the defence. I then stand and give what is called my closing speech where I outline the prosecution case and try to persuade the jury the defendant is in fact guilty. I then stand and give my closing speech, outlining the defence’s case and try to persuade the jury that the defendant is not guilty. I will then sum up all the evidence. I will direct the jury on the legal issues and what the prosecution has to prove if they are to find the defendant guilty. I will give them the legal options available, reminding them that if they are not sure they must find the defendant not guilty. We then retire to make our decision. Once a decision has been reached we return and as foreperson of the jury I announce the jury’s verdict. If found not guilty, the defendant is released. If the defendant is found guilty I will make a statement in mitigation to the judge, the judge will take this statement into account before sentencing. I thank the jury for the service that they have provided. If the defendant is found not guilty, I will release the jury from the court. If the defendant is found guilty, I will move to sentence him in a straightforward case. It is likely in that instance that the jury will remain in court. I may however postpone sentencing where other factors are to be considered. This can be particularly appropriate where there have been contentious issues or where the defendant’s background is likely to have a significant impact on the sentence I pass.

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