Explains what may happen if you are charged with committing a crime, what happens when you to go court, and how your mental health is taken into account.
If you are charged with an offence, you will have to go to court for what is called a 'hearing'. The police will send you a letter telling you where and when it will be. It is important that you attend your hearing – it is against the law not to go.
Your first time in court will always be at the Magistrates' Court. A number of things will happen at the hearing:
Which court your case is heard in depends on what type of offence it is: an indictable offence, summary offence or either-way offence:
The Magistrates' Court and Crown Court can give different sentences. Sometimes the Magistrates' Court might send you to the Crown Court for sentencing after hearing your case.
A hearing is a meeting at the court in front of the judge where decisions are made about your case.See our full list of legal terms.
This information was published in July 2018. We will revise it in 2021.
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