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Absolute Discharge

the court takes no further action against an offender, but the offender's discharge will appear on his or her criminal record


the person charged


release of defendant following verdict or direction of not guilty


an application to a higher Court for review of a decision of a lower Court


lawful detention by a police officer


release of a defendant from custody, until his/her next appearance in Court, subject sometimes to security being given and/or compliance with certain conditions

Bench Warrant

a warrant issued by the magistrates or judge for an absent defendant to be arrested and brought before a Court either on bail or in custody


either a Simple Caution (non-statutory warning given by the police, following admission of guilt, as an alternative to prosecution, which though not a conviction will go on the police database), or a Conditional Caution (warning under the Criminal Justice Act 2003) following admission of guilt, which though not a conviction will go on the police database)


a formal accusation against a person


either Committal for Trial when following examination by the Magistrates of a case involving an either way offence it is sent to the Crown Court, or Committal for Sentence where the Magistrates consider that the offence justifies a sentence greater than they are empowered to impose and they commit the defendant to the Crown Court for sentence to be passed by a judge

Community Penalties

alternatives to prison which deal with the offender in the community rather than in prison. These include community punishment, community rehabilitation orders and drug treatment and testing orders

Compensation Order

a court order requiring the offender to pay compensation to the victim

Concurrent Sentence

a direction by a Court that a number of sentences of imprisonment or community penalty should run at the same time

Conditional Discharge

a discharge of a convicted defendant without sentence on condition that they do not re-offend within a specified period of time

Consecutive Sentence

an order for a subsequent sentence of imprisonment or community penalty to commence as soon as a previous sentence expires. Can apply to more than two sentences


when an offender has pleaded or been found guilty of an offence in a court, he or she is said to have been convicted. The conviction then appears on the offender's criminal record

Crown Court

the Crown Court deals with all crime committed or sent for trial by Magistrates Courts. Cases for trial are heard before a judge and jury. The Crown Court also acts as an appeal court for cases heard and dealt with by the Magistrates

Crown Prosecution Service (CPS)

the Crown Prosecution Service decides whether there is enough evidence to take a case to court, and whether it would be in the public interest

Curfew Order

a curfew order is a form of house arrest. People must stay indoors, usually at their home, for the curfew period. An electronic tag, worn on the ankle or wrist, notifies monitoring services if the offender is absent during the curfew hours

Custodial Sentences

sentences where the offender is locked up in a prison, Young Offender Institution or Secure Training Centre


the offender is found guilty of the offence, and the conviction appears on his or her criminal record, but either no further action is taken at all (absolute discharge), or no further action is taken as long as the offender does not offend again in a certain period of time (conditional discharge)


a decision by the Crown Prosecution Service not to continue with a case

District judge

a judge in the County Court who will deal with the majority of the divorce proceedings and usually with financial matters

Either-Way Offence

an offence for which the accused may be tried by the magistrates or by committal to the Crown Court to be tried by jury

Indictable Offence

a criminal offence that can only be tried by the Crown Court. The different types of offence are classified 1, 2, 3 or 4. Murder is a class 1 offence


a written statement of the charges against a defendant sent for trial to the Crown Court, and signed by an officer of the Court


body of 12 people sworn to try a case and reach a verdict according to the evidence presented to the Court

Justice of the Peace (JP)

a lay magistrate; a person appointed to administer judicial business in a Magistrates Court

Magistrates' Court

a Court where criminal proceedings are commenced before Justices of the Peace, or District Judges, who examine the evidence/statements and either deal with the case themselves or commit to the Crown Court for trial or sentence


the explanation for the offence given on behalf of a guilty party in order to excuse or partly excuse the offence committed in an attempt to minimise the sentence

Notifiable Offence

offence deemed serious enough to be recorded by the Police. Includes most indictable and triable either-way offences


a defendant's reply to a charge put to him by a court; ie guilty or not guilty

Reasonable Doubt

the standard of proof in criminal courts in the UK is that the case is proved 'beyond reasonable doubt'. The Crown Prosecutor must prove 'beyond reasonable doubt' that the defendant committed the offence

Remand (in Custody)

the accused person (defendant) is kept in custody or placed on bail pending further Court appearance(s)

Stipendiary Magistrate

a legally qualified and salaried Magistrate now called a District Judge

Summary Offence

a criminal offence which can only be tried by a Magistrates' Court


a person's undertaking to be liable for another's non-attendance at Court

Suspended Sentence

a custodial sentence which will not take effect unless there is a subsequent offence within a specified period

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