All cases that have been charged at the police station or are sent a postal requisition begin in the Magistrates Court.
This would be the first hearing in this matter, where you would either plead guilty or not guilty. If you plead guilty, your case may be adjourned for the preparation of a pre-sentence report about you by the national probation service. Your case, however, could also be dealt with on the day with an interview with the probation service so that matters can be resolved as quickly as possible.
If you plead not guilty and your case remains in the Magistrates Court for a trial or further hearing, then it is likely that a trial in the Magistrates Court will take approximately 12-16 weeks before it is heard from your first appearance. During that time, we will continue to represent you and prepare your case to be able to assist you at trial. There are some delays currently caused by the coronavirus, meaning that your trial may take slightly longer to be heard.
If you are refused bail by the police, you would appear before the next available court. Currently, this is a virtual court, and usually your case is heard either the same day or the next day. A bail application would be made on your behalf if you so wish, and the court will make a decision as to whether you are bailed for any further hearings to take place or whether you will remain in custody. Further bail applications can be made if you are remanded in custody.
We will ensure that we discuss your case at every stage with you and keep you up to date.
While each case starts at the Magistrates Court for your first appearance if your case is either sent by the Magistrates Court to the Crown Court, or you choose to elect trial in the Crown Court, depending on your plea and the complexity of your case, the proceedings and the time of the proceedings will vary.
The first hearing date in the Crown Court after your Magistrates hearing is usually within 4 weeks and is called a plea and trial preparation hearing. It is on this occasion that you are then required to enter a guilty or not guilty plea and for your matter to either be adjourned for sentence or for a trial to be fixed.
If you plead guilty in the Magistrates Court and your case is committed for sentence to the Crown Court as the Magistrates do not feel that their sentencing powers are sufficient, you would normally expect to be sentenced within about 4 weeks from your first hearing date. Due to current listing issues due to Coronavirus, it could take slightly longer if you are on bail. If you are in custody, the Courts will try and deal with your case as quickly as possible.
Crown Court trials are usually listed within 4-5 months of your first hearing at the Magistrates Court, however, this will very much depend on the complexity of your case and whether you are in custody or on bail. Custody cases are currently taking priority and the courts are currently trying to list custody trials sooner rather than later. If you are on bail, your trial may not be listed for approximately 6 -8 months.
If you are in custody, your trial will need to be listed within what is called a custody time limit, which you are given at the first hearing date. This is a date to focus the Prosecution and Courts minds to try to ensure your case is listed for trial and is ready to proceed.
Further tailored advice can be given once we know the details of your case and how the matter will proceed, as this will very much depend on the complexity of your case and other relevant issues. This is of course something that we can advise you further on once you have the first hearing date or have been charged.
We can also discuss your eligibility for legal aid or private rates for each case once you are charged.
We know that appearing before the Court for any matter can be a daunting experience. We ensure that we work with you to assist you and progress your case and keep you informed at all stages. We have a very experienced team of Solicitors who can guide you through your case, and instruct Barristers for your trial to work with us and yourself to ensure you have the best advocates representing you. We have links to a number of Barristers chambers in London who also specialise in criminal work, covering all types of matters from thefts, frauds and serious assaults to various sexual offences, murder and supplying drugs.