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Jo C.
Jo C., Barrister
Category: Law
Satisfied Customers: 70197
Experience:  Over 5 years in practice
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This is just a general question on the processes of a Crown

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This is just a general question on the processes of a Crown Court. I attended a Plea and Case Management hearing however the CPS had not prepared an indictment. As such my barrister suggested an indication that a guilty plea would be entered and a date was set for a plea and sentencing hearing in a fortnight. The barrister was a stand in as my allocated barrister was tied up in another trial, I am unsure I wish to plead guilty, I'm a little confused by the charges but don't believe I had the requisite mens rea. IF I plead not guilty at the next hearing will a jury trial begin instantly/ in the next week or 2 or can I expect to have to wait a number of months for a jury trial?
Submitted: 2 years ago.
Category: Law
Expert:  Jo C. replied 2 years ago.
Hi.
Thank you for your question. My name is ***** ***** I will try to help with this.
If you mean that the pcmh has been adjourned for the crown to decide upon the charges then all that will happen then is that you will plead one way or the other and the matter will be adjourned for trial probably several months away.
If this was an effective pcmh then the next hearing should be a trial but that isn't likely if the crown haven't decided upon their charges. You can't be expected to plead unless they tell you what they allege. You won't lose credit for a guilty plea until they put the right charge.
Can I clarify anything for you?
Jo
Jo C. and other Law Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 2 years ago.

Up to what point can the CPS change the charges? I believe they intend to drop a number of them for the next hearing. If I plead not guilty, between then and trial could they reinstate the charges they previously dropped? And what may happen if the CPS fail again to prepare an indictment by the next date? May the judge act to stop the process? Forgive me but I have been on bail for nearly 2 years now and any further protraction is particularly painful.

Expert:  Jo C. replied 2 years ago.
They can amend the indictment at any time up to the close of their case.
Yes, they can reinstate the original charges.
The judge can't stop the case but he can refuse them an adjournment. There is always a way around that though. They will just pursue the holding charges that they have to keep the case alive.
There isn't really an excuse for them not having an indictment. It is not a complicated task. They always rely on a handwritten indictment if the worst happens.
Customer: replied 2 years ago.

Thank you for that. Further, a probation report has been ordered before the next hearing. Does the judge review if there is sufficient evidence to rule if there is a case to answer at this point, and do they do so before or after the entering of a plea? In such case would the probation report be studied to inform that decision as an indication into the extent of culpability?

Expert:  Jo C. replied 2 years ago.
If you mean a probation report then that would suggest you have pleaded and will be sentenced.
The judge will only review the evidence at half time if there is an application to dismiss.
Customer: replied 2 years ago.

No, as I say, no plea was entered or requested, however my barrister proposed that a guilty plea would be expected at the adjourned hearing. As such the judge ordered a probation report be prepared. One final question as I understand this is getting tiresome. Are the plea's requested before or after 'half time'?

Expert:  Jo C. replied 2 years ago.
He can't do that unless you actually do plead.
Pleas ar requested from the outset. Half time is too late to get credit.
Customer: replied 2 years ago.

Sorry, but further on this as it's apparent this is something I need to chase up. This has happened as described,

I went to a plea and case management hearing, a 'stand in' barrister called me early to the door; mentioned that the prosecution had not prepared an indictment, that the hearing would be adjourned and no plea would be requested.

When my case was called 'my' barrister challenged some of the charges listed on the charge sheet as per previous discussions with my solicitor, the prosecution agreed verbally those charges would not be pursued. I was not asked to plead. 'My' Barrister said something along the lines of 'there is an indication this will be a guilty plea' (which he later explained was simply to preserve the credit for as long as possible and did not bind me to pleading that way)

The judge then gave a date for the adjourned hearing, rebailed me, ordered a probation report that I would be expected to cooperate fully with. The probation representative then caught me at the door to confirm my contact details and said they'd be in touch.

The issue is now that this feels completely wrong. Especially now, speaking to family we believe the best course of action is to challenge the indictment again on all remaining charges because there is no evidence at all produced to the requisite level of mens rea in this case (in cases such as this it is an important element and usually easily proved and given prime position in the prosecutions case).

Yet, the judge has ordered me to cooperate with the probation service in the writing of a report. I don't even know what the indictment is, because it has still yet to be produced. IF the probation service contact me before I am due to meet my barrister, what would you suggest my course of action?

Expert:  Jo C. replied 2 years ago.
Yes, it is completely wrong. It is all over the place.
Even if you pleaded to some charges and not others the judge would not normally order a report until the others were decided upon.
It is quite unlikely that probation will intact you. If they do the co operate. If the charges aren't properly out and you are not arraigned then they can't use the report anyway.
You can indicate a plea to some charges to preserve credit and the judge can order a report even tough there are other charges outstanding but that would not normally be done until the matters are resolved.
Customer: replied 2 years ago.

Thank you for your help. It has helped me gain a little focus at what is a very hectic time. Good night and all the best.

Expert:  Jo C. replied 2 years ago.
No problem.
It might be worth checking with your solicitor what did happen. There are some dangerous judges about who think they are terribly clever but I haven't heard of any that think they can order probation report before the charges are put.

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