The government’s proposals for reform

Assess the extent to which the current criminal trial process ensures that the guilty are convicted while providing sufficient protection for innocent accused. In light of your answer, evaluate the government's proposals for reform" Within this essay attempts will be made to explore preliminary procedures before an accused can be bought to justice, this implicates certain police procedures. From the point of arrest right across to the potential sentence, a number of procedures are in placed.

I will be examining in some detail the trial process and will be commenting throughout the attempts the current criminal justice system has made to ensure the guilty are convicted and have provided sufficient consideration for the protection of innocent accused. Prospective government reforms will be evaluated, drawing attention to potential merits and downfalls. In order to bring a suspect to justice they must first be arrested. The Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984, regulates differing aspects of police powers. There are five codes of practice within the Act.

Code A relates to stop and search procedures; Code B to the search of premises; Code C relates to interviews and conditions of detention; Code D regulates identification procedures; and Code E regulates the tape recordings of interviews. It is reasonable assume that an innocent party as a consequence of such police procedures will be eliminated from lines of inquiry as each code has been premeditated to ensure lines of enquiry are only dealing with people whom they have a firm affirmation are in indeed guilty. Britain has a judicial system with an ethos which runs on the conception that a suspect is innocent until proven guilty.

Here the interests of the suspect are prioritised, clear evidence that there is consideration that the arrested person may actually be the victim in the trial, it is the job of the prosecution to prove otherwise. When an arrest has been made depending upon its seriousness it will dealt with in the appropriate court setting. Ways in which this is classified varies from whether they are offences committed against people or property or according to the mens rea required for the offence for example 'intention' or 'recklessness'.

However more significantly is whether the offence is triable summarily in a magistrate's court set aside for relatively trivial offences like traffic offences, or is an indictable offence, the more serious offences like rape or murder triable in front of a judge and jury in a Crown Court. There are instances when a class of offences can be triable 'either way'. For example theft is a relatively serious offence, but been committed in a minor such as the theft of a loaf of bread, cases like these now account for about 80% of those tried in Crown Courts.

In all offences triable either way, the defendant has the right of trial by jury. If the defendant elects for summary trial, the prosecution still has the right to remit the case for trial at the Crown Court if they think the trial would be more suitable. Summary offences are created and defined by statute the list of summary offences is exhaustive, these cases are heard in the court for the district in which the offence is alleged to have taken place. The maximum sentence a magistrate court can impose is a i?? 5000 fine and/or a six month prison sentence.

In many instances the fines issued are income assessed; theoretically this is to ensure that the rich pay more than the poor do for the same offence so it affects them more representatively than the same fine would a person of low income. After a conviction, the magistrates will hear whether the defendant has a criminal record and if so for which previous offences. The justification for this is to ensure the court pass an adequate sentence however if they feel that their powers of sentencing are insufficient to deal appropriately with the defendant in hand the case will be referred to crown court for sentencing.

This provision ensures that those who are found to be guilty will be punished by the system accordingly diminishing attempts made by hardened criminals to play the system. By the provisions of ss 130-34 of the Powers of the Criminal Courts (Sentencing) Act 2000 (PCC(S) A 2000). Section 130 states that a court before which a person is convicted, in addition to dealing with him in any other way may make a compensation order. The order is to compensate personal injury, loss or damage as a consequence of the offence in question the courts will also take into consideration any other offences that the defendant happened to confess to.

If a death has resulted from an offence committed by a defendant other than one resulting from a motor accident they may also be liable for payments towards funeral arrangements and bereavement. However the underlying fundamental reasoning for this is that unlike what happens when a fine is issued the money recovered in this order will be given directly to the victim instead of the state. This means that the victim does not have to fight for damages in civil courts. Here is an evident example of statutory provisions being made with the best interest of the victim in mind.

The Crown Court hears all cases involving trial on indictment. It also hears appeals from those convicted summarily in the magistrates' courts. The Crown Court has the power at its disposal to confirm, reverse or vary any part of the decision at appeal at the conclusion of the hearing under (s 48(2) pf the Supreme Court Act 19 81). If the situation arises that the Crown Court has decided against the accused it then has the power to inflict any sentence which the magistrate could have inflicted, even if this means that it is consequentially more severe than the original imposed on the defendant.