Law in Britain and the US

In both Britain and the US, when a person is accused of a rime it must be shown that they are guilty "beyond reasonable doubt". A person is always innocent in the eyes of the law until they have been proved to be guilty by a court they can sometimes ask for permission to APPEAL to a higher court in the hope that it will change this decision.

Criminal law in England and Wales

When someone is arrested (ARREST) by the police, a MAGISTRATE (=an official who judges cases in some types of courts) decides whether there is enough EVIDENCE against the person for the case to go to court. If there is enough evidence and the case is a serious one, the person accused of the crime (called 'the accused ') is sent to a CROWN COURT for a TRIAL with a JUDGE and JURY (=12 members of the public who have to decide if the accused is guilty , then the judge decides the SENTENCE  (=punishment). If there is enough evidence against the accused but the crime is not a serious one (for example a traffic offence) then the case is heard in a MAGISTRATES COURT.

Law, Britain, US, Criminal law, England, Wales, Northern Ireland, Scotland


If found guilty in the Crown Court the accused may apply to the COURT OF APPEAL (Criminal Division) where he or she will be heard by a judge. Sometimes a HIGH COURT judge from the Queen's Bench Division assists in dealing with criminal matters in the Court of Appeal or Crown Court.

Criminal law in Northern Ireland

In Northern Ireland, as in England and Wales, someone accused of a crime may be tried in a Magistrates' Court or a Crown Court depending on how serious the crime is. Appeals from the Crown Court are heard in the Northern Ireland Court of Appeal.University of Cambridge

Criminal law in Scotland

Scotland has a separate court system. After a person is arrested by the police, an official called the PROCURATOR FISCAL is in charge of deciding whether there is enough evidence against the accused for a trial. If there is enough evidence and the crime is a very serious one, the accused is sent to the HIGH COURT OF JUSTICIARY where there is a judge and jury (in Scotland there are 15 people on a jury). If there is enough evidence but the crime is a less serious one, the case is heard in a SHERIFF COURT (The sheriff is a trained lawyer who acts as a judge). Appeals from the Sheriff Court go to the High Court of Justiciary.



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