What are the different types of criminal courts? The judicial system has three main courts in the United Kingdom. They are the Youth Court, Magistrates' Courts, and the Crown Court.
CRIMINAL COURTS UK: This page explains the crimes that criminal courts deal with and the different levels of sentences they can give out.
A criminal court has legal jurisdiction to conduct trials for offenders of criminal law. The court can 'try' the offenders and then punish those who get found guilty of breaking the law.
The UK Government files cases in criminal courts. A case can get filed against anyone for committing a crime.
A person accused of committing a crime is the defendant. The government's role is proving that the defendant is guilty. High standards in the United Kingdom mean any guilt must get proven 'beyond a reasonable doubt'.
What is a youth court? Youth courts are special types of magistrates' courts and they get used for people aged 10 to 17 years old.
A youth court has no jury but there will always be either:
Your parent or a guardian must go with you to a youth court if:
As a rule youth courts are a lot less formal than adult courts. For example:
Youth courts deal with cases which include:
The UK court system handles serious crimes by young offenders differently. Serious cases, such as rape or murder, start in a youth court but then get passed over to a Crown Court.
Youth courts can deliver a range of sentences which determines how sentences are worked out, including:
In some cases you can appeal against the sentence handed out by a youth court. The staff working at the youth court can provide you with extra information on how to make a youth court appeal.
All criminal cases first start at a magistrates' court. There is no jury in a magistrates' courts but the cases get heard by either:
As a rule magistrates' courts handle cases known as 'summary offences' which include:
The court can also deal with some of the more serious offences such as:
These 'either way' offences can get heard either at a magistrates' court or a Crown Court.
Note: You can use the online court finder to search for your local magistrates' court.
UK magistrates' courts always pass the most serious criminal crimes 'indictable offences' to the Crown Court which include:
England and Wales are common law jurisdictions. That means an indictable offence is one which can only get tried on an indictment after a preliminary hearing.
The preliminary hearing determines whether there is a prima facie case to answer by a grand jury. So that means UK indictable offences are in contrast to a summary offences.
In certain cases the magistrates' court will decide whether you should be:
One of those two situations will happen if:
A UK magistrate court can give out punishments which include:
Note: Magistrate courts can also combine several punishments (e.g. hand out a fine as well as unpaid work in the community). They can also pass your case to the Crown Court for sentencing if the court decides your sentence should be for longer than 6 months.
In some cases, you can appeal a verdict by a Magistrates' Court in the United Kingdom. Check further information explaining exactly what the Magistrates' Court appeal process involves.
A Crown Court deals with the most serious criminal cases including:
Crown Courts also deal with:
Note: You can use the online court finder to search for your local Crown Court.
You can view a list of Crown Court cases and hearings each day on the daily court status. The online web facility 'http://xhibit.justice.gov.uk' means you can check their progress on the court lists.
UK Crown Courts usually have a jury and a judge.
Note: If you have a solicitor they can explain what happens in court. But, the judge and court staff will also give instructions about the trial.
A Crown Court can give a range of sentences which include:
In some cases you can appeal a verdict by a Crown Court in the United Kingdom. Check further information that explains exactly what the Crown Court appeal process involves.
Different Types of Criminal Courts in the United Kingdom