Contested Cases in Magistrates’ Courts

Mike McConville, Jacqueline Hodgson, Lee Bridges and Anita Pavlovic

in Standing Accused

Published in print February 1994 | ISBN: 9780198258681
Published online March 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780191681851 | DOI:

Series: Oxford Monographs on Criminal Law and Justice

Contested Cases in Magistrates’ Courts

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This chapter explores the trials in the magistrates' courts. It also focuses upon the decision-making of magistrates in cases in which defendants contest their guilt. If the prosecution case is focused around the evidence of police officers, evidence of the defence heavily relies upon the testimony of defendants themselves. In addition, it evaluates other systemic features which are influential in terms of outcome. Cases supported by police evidence tend to be well-constructed prosecutions which are resistant to attack even from well-coordinated defence witnesses. In magistrates' courts, the principal strength of prosecution cases lies in their heavy reliance upon evidence from the police. Even a conviction at trial may be ‘successful’ at some level for defendants. So far as conviction or acquittal is concerned, however, any success defence solicitors have at trials themselves, tends to be a product of what they can achieve ‘on their feet’ in court and whatever ‘turns up’ on the day.

Keywords: magistrates; courts; defendants; prosecution; police officers; defence solicitors

Chapter.  12916 words. 

Subjects: Criminal Law

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