“I have recently appeared at the Magistrates’ Court and my case has now gone up to the Crown Court. I intend to plead not guilty. What will happen at the Crown Court?”
Your first appearance at the Crown Court will be at a Plea and Pre-Trial Preparation Hearing when you will be required to enter your plea to the offence(s) with which you are charged unless there is good reason why you should not. If you plead not guilty a series of dates will be set by the Court for the progression of your case leading up to the trial. Stage 1 is when the Prosecution must serve their case including witness statements and any supporting exhibits such as CCTV, forensic evidence etc. The Prosecution will also be required to serve any legal applications they wish to make.
The next stage is when your defence statement must be served. Your legal advisors will assist you in drafting this but you must ensure that you keep in touch with them. There is a risk of adverse inferences being drawn at your trial if this stage is not complied with or if your defence statement is served late. At this stage the Defence is also required to respond to any legal applications made by the Prosecution and also to serve any expert reports that have been obtained and are being relied on.
There are two further stages when the Prosecution must serve any further evidence they have obtained or to respond to any Defence expert evidence put forward and then for the Defence to respond and/or to make any complaints regarding non-disclosure of evidence.
At the plea and trial preparation hearing a date for your trial is also likely to be set. Depending on the complexities in your particular case and the likely length of the trial this could be many months later. Before the date of your trial, it is possible that there will be a further review Hearing in order for the Court to be updated as to the progress of the case.
If there are no further hearings ordered or requested, your case will then proceed to trial.
If you plead guilty at the plea and trial preparation hearing your case is likely to be adjourned for reports to be prepared by the probation service although there are circumstances in which this can either be done on the same day or you can be sentenced without a report.
Ben Hoare Bell LLP has experienced and accredited Criminal Defence Solicitors who can represent you and assist you throughout all levels of proceedings including in complex cases at the Crown Court. To speak to one of our criminal team please contact us on 0191 565 3112 or if you need immediate representation out of office hours please phone 07743 806988 for our 24 hours service.
Please note that this advice was correct at the time of writing. However there may have been changes in the law or procedure since that date. If you are in doubt you should obtain up to date legal advice.