Journalism #Diploma 

Court Reporting | Reporting Restrictions | Media Law

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You must know section 52a of the Crime & Disorder Act 1998

Must know the difference between summary, either-way and indictable only offences in the magistrates court.

Procedure in either-way cases – there is an indication of plea hearing (plea before-venue) and mode of trial procedure (now known as allocation procedure)

Difference between indication of plea and formal plea.

Difference between ‘sending for trial’ and committal sentence.

EITHER WAY CASES – In English criminal law a hybrid offence is called a “triable-eitherway offence” and can be heard at either the Magistrates’ Court or Crown Court. The decision as to which court will hear the case is determined at a Mode of Trial hearing.

PLEA BEFORE VENUE – The Magistrates’ Courts Act 1980 sections 17A- 17C 2, deals with the “plea before venue” procedure. 4. A defendant charged with an either way offence can plead guilty and be sentenced in the magistrates’ court, unless there is a committal to the Crown Court for sentence.

SENDING FOR TRIAL – In committal proceedings and transfers for trial, a case should not be committed or transferred unless you are satisfied that the criteria for prosecution contained in the Code for Crown Prosecutors have been met.

INDICATION OF PLEA – 

FORMAL PLEA – 

Crime & Disorder Act  1998 Section 52A reporting restrictions. These are AUTOMATIC restrictions which cover any case retaining potential jury trial.

Includes preliminary hearings at magistrates – including bail applications and hearings for ‘plea before-venue’ ‘mode of trial’ and ‘sending for trial’ procedures – in cases which retain potential for jury trial.

Automatic restrictions – unless lifted – for preliminary hearings for all indictable-only cases and some either-way cases. Includes any reference to evidence, any previous convictions, any other material with the potential to create prejudice.

You need t know what you CAN and what you CAN’T publish under these restrictions.

WHAT IS OK

  • The name of the court
  • The name, age, home address and occupation of the accused
  • The charges in full or summarised
  • The names of the counsel and solicitors engaged in the proceedings
  • If proceedings are adjourned, the date and place to which they are adjourned
  • Arrangements as to bail – whether bail was granted or refused and any conditions and surety arrangement.

WHAT YOU CAN’T SAY

  • This includes
  • Any reference to the case
  • A defendant’s previous convictions
  • Any other material with potential to create prejudice such as reasons for refusal of bail
  • The concern is that people who read or hear information given at preliminary hearings may include some who months later will be called to be jurors in these cases

LIFTING RESTRICTIONS

  • Defendant can ask for them to be lifted
  • Automatically cease to apply if and when, for either way charge, it becomes clear the defendant will be tried summarily
  • Magistrates decide there is insufficient evidence to commit to them for Crown Court trial
  • Automatically  expire when the proceedings against all defendants in the case have been concluded

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