Going to Court

Magistrates court

A magistrates’ court will normally handles cases known as ‘summary offences’, such as motoring offences and minor criminal damage.

Crown court

The most serious offences, such as rape, murder or manslaughter, will be dealt with in the Crown Court.

If you’ve experienced a crime, you may be asked to go to court to give evidence.

Almost all criminal cases begin in a magistrates’ court. Whether they end there or are sent to the Crown Court depends on how serious the crime is.

If a defendant (the person accused of a crime) is under 18, the case will normally be heard in a youth court. Hearings in the youth court are not open to the public and are less formal than adult courts. 

The Magistrates' Court

Cases are heard by either two or three magistrates or a district judge. A magistrates’ court will normally handles cases known as ‘summary offences’, such as motoring offences and minor criminal damage. There is not a jury in a magistrates’ court.

How a magistrate’s court works

Find out more about how a magistrate’s court works, and about the roles of the people in it.

Credit: University of Derby

The Crown Court

The most serious offences, such as rape, murder or manslaughter, will be dealt with in the Crown Court. These are known as ‘indictable offences’.

How a Crown Court works

An introduction to the Crown Court, the different roles within it and how a trial at the court works.

Credit: University of Derby

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