What to expect
Every case starts in the Magistrates Court. How the case is managed at the first hearing will depend on the nature of the sexual offence charged. Some minor criminal offences can only be tried in the Magistrates Court (‘summary only’ offences). The most serious offences can only be heard in the Crown Court (‘indictable only’ offences). Other cases can be heard either in the Magistrates Court or the Crown Court (‘either way’ offences). When charged with an either way offence, the Magistrates will decide whether it can be tried in the Magistrates Court. Where they deem it suitable for summary trial, you then have the choice of consenting to a summary trial or ‘electing’ to have a trial in the Crown Court . Most allegations of a serious sexual nature are however sent to the Crown Court even when they can be tried ‘either way’.
The first hearing at the Crown Court is known as a Plea and Trial Preparation Hearing (PTPH). This is ordinarily a short administrative hearing where you are expected to enter your plea. When pleading not guilty at the PTPH, the Judge will then go on to set a timetable for managing the case and a trial date will be set.
Trials are held before a Judge and jury: the Judge deals with matters of law but it is a jury of 12 people who will decide, having heard all of the evidence, whether a person is guilty or not guilty.
What we do
If a case progresses to Court, we have the expertise, resources and strategic knowledge and contacts to deal with whatever issues may arise in your case. As the Prosecution’s case develops, we continue to proactively investigate the Defence case and continue to break down the Prosecution case piece by piece whilst, at the same time, building a robust defence.
We have successfully represented numerous clients charged with rape, sexual assault, child abuse, possession of indecent images and other sexual offences. This experience has given us the strategic knowledge and the contacts that we need to give our clients the best chance of success. From the very first appearance at the Magistrates Court through to trial we provide expert advice so that you are fully informed at all stages of the Court process. We will ensure that nothing is left to chance in terms of preparation.. We are rigorous in pursing the best result for our clients.
The criminal legal system is based on a fundamental principle that the burden of proof rests with the Prosecution. Whilst it is the Prosecution that must prove the case so that the jury is sure of guilt, it is often vital that a positive defence is put forward. This requires experienced solicitors with the knowledge and resources to ensure all possible defence evidence and material is strategically considered and put forward in a timely manner. Allegations of a sexual nature require a specialist approach and we can provide that.
Once we are instructed we will manage every aspect of the case. There can be wide ranging, complex issues in sexual offence cases, which can include complex family relationships, forensic evidence, expert phone and social media analysis, all of which require meticulous analysis. If there is a novel point or law to be taken, or a human rights angle, we will utilise that too. Our firm has acted in a succession of ground breaking legal challenges in the Court of Appeal and the Supreme Court.