Specialists in Serious Fraud and Complex Criminal Defence
Crown Court Trial Solicitors
As experienced defence solicitors, we will provide you with the advice and representation you need if you are facing a trial in the Crown Court.
With a wealth of experience providing legal advice in the specialist areas of criminal defence, white-collar crime and fraud, we are one of the most highly-respected Criminal Defence solicitors in London. Although we are based in London, we can provide representation to our clients facing trial in the Crown Court throughout England and Wales.
To contact us regarding your Crown Court trial, please call our office on 020 3824 8080 to make an appointment at our office.
We understand the pressure clients feel when they are facing a Crown Court trial. With our experience and knowledge of the criminal justice system and the courts, we provide them with the confidence of knowing they have the support of our team.
We are different from many typical criminal firms of solicitors in that our Senior Partner is a barrister with a vast experience in defending in the full range of criminal trials including the most serious and complex trials. In consequence the ethos of our firm is driven by the focus on ‘the trial’ and preparing for it to get the best possible result.
We have a number of barristers and crown court advocates at the firm as well as having close links with some of the leading barrister’s chambers in the country and will always match the right advocate or barrister to the client to ensure we achieve the best results for our clients.
What is the difference between a Magistrates Court and Crown Court?
All criminal cases start in the Magistrates’ Court. Cases are categorised as:
(i) Summary only: these are the less serious and triable only in the Magistrates’ Court.
(ii) Either Way: these are more serious offences which can be tried either in the Magistrates’ Court or the Crown Court. If the Court deem it to be serious then they will send it to the Crown Court. A Defendant can also choose to have his case dealt with by the Crown Court even if the Magistrates decide that they can deal with it.
(iii) Indictable only: These are the most serious offences and the Magistrates Court will automatically send these to the Crown Court for trial.
In the Magistrates’ Court, the proceedings will either be conducted before three magistrates, who are lay people (meaning they do not have legal training), or a single magistrate who is a lawyer (known as a District Court judge).
Magistrates’ Courts are much less formal than Crown Courts, for example, magistrates do not wear wigs.
In the Crown Court, the case will be tried before a judge & jury, and proceedings are formal, (for example, wigs and gowns are worn).
There are significant advantages and disadvantages to having your trial at either of these courts and much will depend upon the circumstances of your case. We will be able to fully advise you on making the correct choice as that will be crucial in getting the best possible outcome for you.
What happens at a Crown Court trial?
A jury tries cases at the Crown Court. A jury consists of 12 randomly selected people from the electoral roll. A judge decides on matters of law during the trial, such as admissibility of certain evidence, and makes sure the trial proceeds in a fair way. The jury decides whether the defendant is guilty or not. If found guilty, the judge will sentence the defendant.
Our criminal defence solicitors, barristers and advocates are highly experienced at conducting Crown Court trials and will ensure you receive the most robust defence available.
Can I represent myself in the Crown Court?
It is highly recommended that you instruct an experienced criminal defence lawyer to advise and represent you in a Crown Court trial. If you represent yourself, you risk being convicted of an offence you have not committed or receiving an unnecessarily harsh sentence.
A Crown Court judge and jury can only make a decision on the evidence put before them. If you are unprepared, do not understand the law or lack the confidence to cross-examine witnesses, your trial may well implode, resulting in severe censorship from the judge.
At MPR Solicitors, we have years of experience in criminal law. Because we focus on niche areas, we understand the complexities of defending clients in Crown Court trials.
If you are facing a steep fine or imprisonment or found guilty of an offence, attempting to save money on legal costs is false economy. By investing in quality legal advice, your side of the case will be presented in the best possible light.
How long does it take for a case to come before the Crown Court?
The length of time between a prosecution being brought by the Crown Prosecution Service and appearing in the Crown Court depends on the seriousness of the offence and the complexity of the evidence which needs to be presented on both sides.
What happens at the Plea and Trial Preparation Hearing?
If you have been given a date for a Plea and Trial Preparation Hearing (PTPH), it generally means your case is being transferred from the Magistrates Court to the Crown Court. Generally, the PTPH must be held within 28 days of the case being sent to the Crown Court.
This is when you will be asked to enter a plea of guilty or not guilty. It is important that you have a solicitor and are properly represented at this stage to get advice on how to proceed.
Prior to the PTPH we will go through the prosecution papers served and advise you on the strengths and weaknesses of the prosecution case. We will be able to advise you on and discuss your plea. We will identify any early preparation that is required such as tracing and identifying any key potential defence witnesses; preserving evidence; exploring defence lines of enquiry and need for expert or medical evidence so that we are ready and prepared for your court hearing.
Not guilty plea
If you decide to please not guilty, we will have discussed your reasons with you so we can present them to the Crown Court. We will also submit a PTPH Form, which is a legal requirement and will be used by the judge when they are fixing the date of the trial.
The judge will tell the prosecution to present the evidence they intend to rely on by a specific date. As criminal defence solicitors, we must present a Defence Case Statement to the court by the date directed. This document outlines the defendant's position on the prosecution’s allegations; it will outline why the defendant is pleading not guilty and what further evidence must be disclosed to the defence so they can prepare for the trial. We will work with you to prepare this.
The Crown Court will make other directions concerning the smooth running of the trial. Finally, the judge will set a date for the trial.
If at our consultation you have decided to plead guilty then we will prepare the case in order to get the most favourable outcome which may be to keep any fine as low as possible, avoid a prison sentence or where prison is unavoidable to keep sentence as short as possible.
If you plead guilty at the PTPH, the judge can either order an adjournment to allow for a Pre-sentence Report to be prepared by the Probation Service to examine all the sentencing options or proceed straight to sentencing. Before sentencing the judge will hear about the circumstances of the offence from the prosecution and then hear submissions and mitigation from the defence. Once the judge has all the information they need, they will pass sentence.
Although this seems relatively straightforward in theory, in practice, the process is rarely quite as simple. Therefore, instructing an experienced criminal defence solicitor is imperative to ensure you present the best defence possible and receive a fair Crown Court trial.
If you are appearing before the Crown Court, please call us immediately on 020 3824 8080 or fill in our contact form to get in touch.