Legal Dictionary » Legal Terms » COMMITTAL PROCEEDINGS

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In 2012, the committal proceedings process was superseded by "allocation of either way offences" in the Magistrates Court in England and Wales.

Procedure prior to 2012.
If a defendant pleads not guilty or declines to indicate a plea at the magistrates' court, a mode of trial hearing will take place.

If a Magistrates Court declines jurisdiction or the defendant elects to be tried at the Crown Court, the case will be adjourned for committal proceedings.Committal proceedings will be in one of two forms, depending on whether the defendant wishes to challenge the strength of the evidence at the committal stage.

If the defendant does wish to challenge the evidence, committal proceedings will take place under section 6(1) of the Magistrates Courts Act 1980 (MCA 1980).
The magistrates, sitting as examining justices, will consider the statements and exhibits submitted by the prosecution.
There will be no oral evidence and the defence are not entitled to present any evidence at all, documentary or otherwise.

After considering the evidence, which is read out, and hearing submissions from both parties, the court will decide whether there is sufficient evidence to put the defendant on trial by jury. If the court finds that there is, the defendant is committed to the Crown Court to stand trial.If the court finds that there is not, the defendant is discharged.

If the defendant does not wish to challenge the evidence at the committal stage, they may agree to committal proceedings taking place under section 6(2) of the Magistrates' Courts Act 1980, in which case there will be no consideration of the evidence.

These proceedings are known as "paper" committals, the original signed statements (or a copy of the signed statements), are served on the court at the hearing. The evidence is not read to the court. As soon as it is known that committal proceedings are to be held, the defendant's agreement to this form of committal should be sought.

All committal proceedings should be conducted by a solicitor or counsel.


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