Proactive & professional legal guidance in times of crisis

Where serious criminal cases have been referred to the Crown Court by the Magistrates’ Court, seeking expert legal advice as soon as possible is vital.

Whatever the circumstances or allegations, we believe that everyone has the right to the best possible legal representation. To speak to our expert team, contact us today. 

How we can help you

We have a team of specialist case workers, which includes in-house Higher Court Advocates, meaning we are fully-equipped to provide you with support and guidance at this challenging time. 

When assisting with matters at the Crown Court, solicitors in our team draw from extensive experience to provide a proactive approach. From your first instructions all the way through to the case’s conclusion, we’ll provide expert advice and representation which takes into consideration your individual circumstances and all of your available options. Not only do we advise, we also explain the entire process to you in a clear and understandable way. 

What is the Crown Court?

Crown Court cases are typically serious criminal matters which have been referred by the Magistrates’ Court. These cases are heard by a judge and, in the case of a trial, a jury of 12 people. Depending on the severity of the offence, sentence length and complexity, the process for reaching the Crown Court varies. For example, serious allegations of murder or rape can only be heard by the Crown Court. Less serious cases remain with the magistrates. If, however, complex issues arise or sentence lengths are expected to be longer than six months, they may be referred to the Crown Court. 

What happens next?

Following the initial hearing in the Magistrates’ Court, there are further hearings in front of a judge where you are expected to enter a plea of either guilty or not guilty to the charges you are facing. If you plead ‘not guilty’, the Judge will give directions for the next phase, which will be a trial. This may include a fixed date or you’ll be advised that your case is on a warned list and you can therefore be called to trial at any time within the following weeks.  

At trial, the case is heard by the judge and 12 members of a jury, who are selected at random from the public. At this point, the judge is there to provide the jury with explanations of the law and procedures. 

Once the jury has heard your case, which is presented by your advocate or barrister, they will make their decision. If you are found not guilty, you will be discharged from the court and your case concludes. If you are found guilty - or you have entered a guilty plea - the judge will decide on your sentencing.  

It should be noted that not all cases follow such a straightforward process, as obstacles and complexities can arise at any stage. For example, there may be issues involving re-trials, appeals and majority jury decisions. With the right legal guidance on your side, you can rest assured knowing that your case is in safe hands no matter what challenges are faced. 

Why Choose Smith Partnership?

Our team is recognised by a top tier Legal 500 ranking in the area of criminal law, showcasing our experience and expertise, as well as our dedication to this specialist sector.  

Our solicitors strongly believe that everyone has the right to legal representation, no matter what allegations you’re facing or your financial circumstances. Therefore, we regularly advise clients on legal aid eligibility, guiding them through the application process when required. For those not eligible, we supply a fixed-fee quotation and other payment options. 

Smith Partnership’s legal services are built around being clear and practical. We understand how important it is to be fully aware of your position and options in cases that go to the Crown Court so our lawyers ensure any communications and advice are straight-talking and jargon-free at all times.

Contact our team today

To find out how our expert team of solicitors can help you, contact us today on 0330 123 1229, send us an email via info@smithpartnership.co.uk or complete our contact form.

FAQs

The Crown Court generally deals with those cases which are deemed too serious or complex to remain in the Magistrates Court. It also deals with cases where the defendant elects to be tried there, rather than at the Magistrates Court, or wishes to appeal against a Magistrates Court’s original decision.

Where a not guilty plea has been entered, a Crown Court trial is heard by a judge and jury.

The members of the jury are drawn from the general public. The defendant will be represented by a barrister or higher court advocate.

If a not guilty plea is entered and the case is allocated to the Crown Court, a trial will be necessary. Evidence is heard by a judge and jury who will consider the appropriate verdict. If the defendant is on a low income and the case is sufficiently serious, then “legal aid” is likely to be granted. This means that the defence case would be funded by the State. In Crown Court proceedings, as distinguished from those in the Magistrates Court, legal aid will commonly be granted with a requirement that the defendant pays a contribution towards his/her defence costs. Whilst this can often be substantial, a defendant is entitled to its reimbursement in the event of an acquittal. In the event of a conviction, however, court and prosecution costs are usually imposed.

If legal aid is not granted, the defendant would have to pay privately for representation. Such costs will vary tremendously and will depend on the nature of the charge, the number of witnesses and the level of preparation required. Funding by reference to an agreed hourly rate or a fixed fee would be discussed.

These funding issues also apply where defendants admit their wrongdoing by way of a guilty plea.

As the Crown Court generally deals with the most serious cases, the sentences imposed are often custodial and lengthy. This reflects the fact that the Magistrates have usually decided that their sentencing powers are too limited. Please note, however, that custodial sentences are by no means inevitable in the event of a conviction or guilty plea. The Crown Court has a range of non-custodial penalties at their disposal.

Those cases which are deemed too serious or complex to be dealt with at the Magistrates Court form the substantial majority of the Crown Court’s case load. The list includes “indictable only” offences (which can only be concluded in the Crown Court) such as murder, drugs conspiracies and serious sexual offences.