Identify And Evaluate The Roles Of The Prosecution And Defense In A Criminal Trial. Identify & Discuss The Sentencing Powers, Available To A Judge In A Specific Criminal Case

1693 words - 7 pages

The Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984 (PACE) and The Prosecution of Offences Act 1985 lead to the establishment of the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) in 1986. The CPS is responsible, on behalf of the state, for prosecuting criminal cases investigated by the police in England and Wales. The Legal Aid Act 1988 enables defendants on low incomes and facing court appearances the opportunity to free legal aid. The Access to Justice Act 1999 (s12), directed the Legal Services Commission to establish a Criminal Defence Service (CDS). This means that every person arrested for a crime, regardless of status, is legally entitled to have a free and independent legal representative present before ...view middle of the document...

This has resulted in CPS and police relations improving considerably, but appears to challenge the very reason why the CPS was established in the first instance. Nonetheless, they play a vital role in the pursuit of justice.The key objectives of the defense are to advise defendants on the best course of action for pending prosecutions; assessing the prosecutions case, arguing against it where necessary, and providing their own evidence with the aim of obtaining the best possible outcome for the defendants. They must also seek to ensure that the defendant receives a fair trial. Defense lawyers are often asked 'How can you defend someone that is guilty?' The fact is that their role is to not judge, but to represent the defendant, the judgement is the responsibility of the Magistrates, Judge or Jury. Similarly, the onus of proof of an offence being committed is placed upon the CPS. Defense lawyers can never be sure if a defendant is guilty. There have been a number of cases where an innocent person has admitted guilt. For example - in the 80's Sean Hodgson confessed that he had murdered a barmaid; as a result, he spent nearly thirty years in prison for a crime he did not commit (BBC: 19/03/2009). However, if a defendant admits guilt then the defense's role will be to seek a lenient sentence based on that omission.There are many stages of a criminal trial and at each one the CPS conceivably carries the majority of the burden. During the first pre-trial hearing at Magistrates Court, the CPS must demonstrate that there is a prima facie case to answer; if they fail then the case can be dismissed. However, this does not mean that the accused will not face further prosecution, as the CPS may obtain additional evidence from the police. In complicated cases, there may be a number of pre-trial hearings, particularly in cases listed at Crown Court. These hearings are for both sides to determine preliminary procedural matters. Allegations have been made that defense teams deliberately cause delays in these hearings, reasons given are that it affects witnesses' memories, or sustains their income. In response, the Law Society argued that '…A civilised society demands that criminal convictions should be secured beyond reasonable doubt, and that is not a game, it is a fundamental principle."(Independent: 2002). Moreover, trials may need to adjourn due to CPS waiting for forensic evidence results or other reports.During pre-trial hearings both sides are required under The Criminal Procedure and Investigations Act 1996 to disclose previously undisclosed points known to each other. However, this act states that the CPS must only disclose information that they feel might weaken their case; thus, understandably this exclusive control raises concerns for many defence lawyers. Nonetheless, the CPS are also required to inform the defense in advance of the bad character, or criminal record, of any witness that they plan to call. When a trial begins, the CPS deliver...

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