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Criminal trial


A criminal trial takes place when a person has been arrested for an offence and the Criminal Prosecution Service (CPS) have decided there is enough evidence to prosecute that person. A criminal trial can take place in either the magistrates’ court or the Crown Court. More serious offences are heard in the Crown Court where there will usually be a judge and jury to hear evidence and make a decision. Less serious offences are usually heard in the magistrates’ court before three magistrates who are usually not legally qualified.

In both courts there are obligations on both sides to disclose evidence. The obligations vary depending on the court where the criminal trial is held. In the magistrates’ court, the defendant must disclose reports by expert witnesses and names and addresses of witnesses they intend to call. The CPS must disclose details of the evidence they intend to use at trial which will include copies of witness statements of prosecution witnesses, a transcript of the police interview and details of previous convictions.

In very minor cases the CPS do not have a duty to disclose, however guidance from the attorney general means that they should. The prosecution also have a duty to disclose material they do not intend to use - this can be useful for the defence as they must disclose evidence that may undermine the prosecution case or assist the case for the defendant. This means that if they hold evidence helpful to the defence they must inform them.  

If you would like to obtain legal advice on a criminal trial, Caven can put you in touch with a local specialist criminal defence solicitor free of charge. So, if you have any questions or would like our help in finding local criminal defence solicitors please call us on 0800 046 1464 or complete the web-form above.

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