What you need to know about the UK criminal justice system


Date: 26 August 2021

Man walks past the Newcastle Crown Court

The House of Lords and the House of Commons (popularly known as the houses of parliament), have the mandate of making laws in the United Kingdom. The laws they pass will apply to the jurisdictions making up the UK. This includes Wales, Northern Ireland, Scotland, and England. However, the legislators of the four countries can enact laws for their local citizens. However, the rules governing European nations make up most of the legislation that the criminal justice system in the UK upholds.

Whether a visitor or a resident of the UK, it's beneficial to understand criminal law and the justice system setup. Knowing what to expect whenever you, or someone you care about, has a case in a criminal court will help navigate the situation effectively. The knowledge will help you stay on the right side of law because you will know what you ought not do. Read on to gain insights into the UK justice system.

The Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) decides which cases go to court

The constitution gives police the role of enforcing laws and ensuring there is order in the UK. Police officers will investigate criminal cases and present them to the CPS who will decide if the case will go to court. The service will deal with public prosecutions, and a director heads the section of criminal justice.

For a case to proceed in a criminal prosecution, there are two tests that it must pass. First, the officers will look at the evidence that the police present. Secondly, they will consider the public's interest to determine if the case will proceed for prosecution at a criminal court. The prosecutors look at the case strength to limit the number of cases that fail to get a conviction.

A jury takes part in criminal cases

It is mandatory for citizens to participate in jury duties when called upon. They help determine the fate of a case as they look at the evidence presented in a criminal court to reach a verdict. Individuals can act as jurors for ten working days or more, but they do not get paid for the services. They can receive reimbursements on the earnings they lose during the process and the state will cater for their meals during the time they serve on a jury. Jurors are required to be discrete about the proceedings.

Rulings can impose a jail term or probation

When facing a criminal case in Wales or England, there is a chance the offender will face probation service rather than a jail term. However, the other two countries undertake the process differently. A magistrate or a judge can suspend the jail term or give probation service depending on the threshold of a case. It is a ruling that requires the defendant to offer service in the public sector as part of the punishment. The service entails doing unpaid work or limited access to certain places. Such rulings are available for people who are facing charges due to violence or sexual crimes.

Possible sentences for those found guilty

A judge issues the sentence for a person guilty of criminal charges in the United Kingdom. Remember, the jury will determine the outcome of the case, but sentencing lies with the court official. When the case is sensitive, they can delegate the role to officers from the Crown Court.

The verdict depends on the sentencing council's guidelines and differs depending on the extent of criminal activities. When the case is minor, the judge can give a suspended sentence. The offender does not go to jail but will be sent to prison if they do not comply with the terms of the sentence or is convicted of another offence. The court can also impose a fine on defendants found guilty of minor crimes. However, they will instigate probation services when they want to rehabilitate an offender.

A jail term is a punishment for individuals with serious criminal charges. A judge might also give a jail term and probation service as they see fit. The authorities will tag the sentenced person electronically to track their movement.

Her Majesty's Court and Tribunal's Service manage court operations

Due to the numerous cases in criminal courts, the HMCTS helps in managing the case load. They use two types of law to determine the threshold of cases in their pipeline. First, it considers the particular rule that the offender breaks and then which procedures to use to prosecute the offender.


The UK's judicial systems are likely to change, so it's essential to stay up to date on any developments.

Copyright 2021. Featured post made possible by Prime Lawyers.

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