First Appearance

There are three types of offence for which a person can be brought before a Court:

  1. Summary only. These are offences that will only ever be tried in the Magistrates court unless linked with one of the offences below. Common assault and most driving offences are summary only offences.

  2. Either way offences. These are offences that can either stay in the Magistrates court or go to the Crown Court depending upon how serious they are deemed to be. A defendant has a right to elect a jury trial on such charges.

  3. Indictable only. These offences can only ever be heard in the Crown Court. These are offences such as robbery, rape or murder. The Magistrates Court will not even ask the client whether they plead guilty/not guilty, just automatically send him to Crown Court.

At the first appearance, a person who is charged with a summary only offence will usually be expected to enter a plea to the offence(s) they have been charged with. It is at this point that the prosecution have to provide at the very least a summary of the allegations/evidence (known as Advance Information).

Youths The only thing that can affect the above are if offences are alleged to have been committed by a youth (anyone under 18 years old). In this case, the Youth Court would always deal with a case unless they feel their power of sentence is not enough (as the maximum the Youth Court can give is 2 years in youth custody in other words prison for youths – officially called a Detention and Training Order (DTO)).