The People At Court

The People in Court

Members of the Public

Courts are mostly open to the public who are permitted to observe proceedings. In the UK there is a basic principle for our legal system that says that ‘Justice should be seen to be done’. This principle means that the general public can attend Court including trials and sentencing hearings and watch the events.

Occasionally some Courts are closed to the public. These may be youth Courts or Courts that may be being held “In Camera”. “In Camera” Court hearings would take place only if there was a significant reason why either the identity of a witness or victim was being protected from the public, however cases such as these are not that common.

Courts for road traffic offences are almost certain to be open to all. This means that any interested parties are able to come to Court and sit and watch your case.

There are certain circumstances whereby you can request that your case is held “In Camera” as detailed in the previous paragraph. We can advise you on your options.

Court Clerk

In Court, the Court Clerk provides legal advice to the magistrates and as such will be either a qualified Solicitor or a Barrister. The Court Clerks role in Court is to help defendants without legal representation to present their case to the magistrates as well as providing legal assistance to the Magistrates as required.

If you don’t have any legal representation then the Court Clerk is under an obligation to help you. That said, their first duty is to assist the magistrates so they will not actually represent you to the same level as your own representation would.

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Court Clerks will offer you general assistance in relation to legal issues as and when they arise during your case. They will also assist you when you are cross-examining witnesses. They do not carry out the cross-examination for you however.

The main duty of a Court Clerk is to help the Magistrates to apply the appropriate law relevant to each case. They often advise Magistrates in relation to sentencing.

Defence Solicitor or Barrister

Your Defence Lawyer (if you choose to instruct one) will be either a qualified Solicitor or a Barrister and will act on your behalf. We have specialist Motoring Offence Solicitors and Barristers located all over the UK to act on behalf of our clients, so we can ensure that you are represented by an experienced professional with a suitable level of experience in cases similar to yours.

The Defence Lawyers role is to present your case to the Court either at trial or at a sentencing hearing in the best possible light. A Defence Lawyer will also offer you advice about the best way to plead and the possible outcomes for you.

Should you decide to employ a Defence lawyer for you’re your case, they will make sure that your defence is presented to the Court as well as ensuring that all relevant issues are raised in your favour.

Our Defence lawyers will also be aware of the sentencing guidelines for your offence and will be able to advise you of the likely outcomes depending on how you plead and the circumstances of your case.

A Defence Lawyer cannot guarantee the outcome of your case because different magistrates or District Judges may interpret the details of your offence differently and impose differing sentences, but, with considerable experience in motoring offence cases, our team of Defence Lawyers can offer guidance on the best and worst case scenarios before your hearing commences.

If you are represented by a Defence lawyer they will act on your behalf and will cross-examine the Prosecutions witnesses for you. The Defence Lawyer will test their evidence in order to establish whether their testimony is reliable or not.

If you need advice about your alleged motoring offence please click here to ASK US A FREE QUESTION and find out how we can help you.

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Crown Prosecution Service

The Crown Prosecutor used to always be a qualified Solicitor or Barrister, but Courts are increasingly allowing non-lawyers to prosecute straight forward cases.

The Court Prosecutor attends Court to present the prosecution’s case to Court.

If you plead guilty then the Court Prosecutor will first read out the details of the prosecution case including witness statements from police officers and victims. They will then ask for the Magistrates to impose a costs order in their favour to cover their costs of presenting their case. The size of the costs order will vary depending on how quickly the case reached its conclusion.

If you plead guilty and have a trial and lose then your cost order will be higher than it would be if you had pleaded guilty at the first opportunity.

No Crown Prosecutor is in Court to help or assist you as a Defendant. Many Prosecutors are helpful and might for example assist you with a documentary offence such as driving without insurance by helping to assess whether the cover you have in place is appropriate or not.

Please remember that the Prosecutor has no duty to assist you in any way and is there to prosecute you. They are however under a duty to ensure that the case they present is presented in a fair way.

Magistrates

Magistrates sit in Court and decide whether or not you are guilty of the alleged offence and choose the type of sentence that should be imposed. Most magistrates are not legally qualified. Magistrates are working members of society who give their time to help assist the running of our criminal justice system.

Magistrates receive training in various aspects of the law but generally rely upon the Court Clerk for ultimate advice on specific procedure and more complex legal matters.

Magistrates come from many different areas of society and are believed to be a quick and effective means of providing justice for less serious legal cases.

Magistrates will often ask you questions in order to get a better understanding of your case.

When you plead guilty, or at trial are found guilty then it is the magistrates that will decide your sentence. They may seek guidance from the Court Clerk but the final sentencing decision is theirs.

District Judge

A District Judge will sometime take the role of the Magistrates in Court. A District Judge is a qualified Solicitor or Barrister, highly experienced in criminal law. A District Judge will be assisted by the Court Clerk but will require much less legal support and guidance.

A District Judge will help you to explain your account of your case. Many District Judges are much more to the point and matter of fact than many Magistrates. If you are appearing before a District Judge in is best to be as succinct and to the point as possible when defending yourself or in your closing speech.

Court Usher

The job of the Court Usher is to maintain the smooth running of the Court. They will assist in bringing Defendants into Court. The Court Usher will normally announce that your case has been called in.

When you first arrive at Court make yourself known to the Court Usher in the Court where your case has been listed.

If you should need to leave the Court for any reason such as a comfort break, you should make sure that you speak with the Court Usher first. If you have any specific requirements with regard to the presentation of your case then you should also speak with the Court Usher.

If you need advice about your alleged motoring offence please click here to ASK US A FREE QUESTION and find out how we can help you.

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