A Preliminary Hearing may take place in indictable only cases, when the judge deals with basic issues like when evidence should be served by.
This is usually the first appearance at the Crown Court when the charged person will be expected to formally enter a plea of guilty or not guilty to the charges on the indictment. The indictment is the formal list of the offences that the client has been charged with.
In the Crown Court, the Defence are under a duty to supply the Court and the prosecution (also known as CPS or Crown Prosecution Service) a document called a Defence Statement which outlines the clients defence, and also lists requests for further information. If this is not served within a certain time, then the prosecution can invite the jury to consider whether the defendant has been truthful and why they may not have served the statement until later, they can even ask the jury to consider whether the defendant did not serve the document because they have made up their defence to suit the evidence. A Defendant is also at liberty to not serve a Defence Statement and put the prosecution to proof – i.e. prove their case beyond a reasonable doubt.
At the Plea and Case Management Hearing, the Court will give deadlines for the prosecution and defence to achieve events by, such as serving evidence and/or documents, this is known as making Directions. These can include:
Ordering when the Defence Statement must be served by.
Ordering when the Prosecution can make a special measures application (such as an application to have screens to hide the complainant or a witness, or for an application to allow the complainant or witness to give evidence via a video-link.
Order when the prosecution must make a Bad Character Application this is when the prosecution formally apply for previous convictions of the defendant or others to be made known to the Jury at Trial.
This is similar as outlined in the Magistrates Court section above, with the difference that a panel of 12 people known as a jury decide whether a defendant is guilty or not guilty. The Trial will be overseen by a judge, who makes decisions on the law. It is the jury that will decide the facts.