Determining mode of trial in either-way cases a consultation paper

Importance was related to truth: We assessed the validity of the SEU model predicting court choice using binary logistic regression.

Determining mode of trial in either-way cases a consultation paper

In the context of road traffic offences only the most egregious of offenders faces anything like six months in jail.

This is a massively expensive and rather slow way of determining whether or not a Defendant should lose his licence and face a non-custodial penalty. In addition jury acquittals in the teeth of strong evidence particularly where the harm has been to a vulnerable cyclist or pedestrian do nothing to bolster confidence in the criminal justice system, let alone to improve actual and perceived safety on our roads.

In recent weeks juries have acquitted a lorry driver who ran down an elderly pedestrian couple crossing a road in a shopping centre car park death by dangerous drivinga lorry driver who turned left at Ludgate Circus without ensuring there was no cyclist on his nearside death by careless drivinga car driver who passed a group of cyclists colliding with one and then driving into him when he sought to remonstrate dangerous driving and assault.

Often the juries acquit in under an hour in such cases heightening disquiet as to the result. Juries will of course sometimes convict particularly where a vehicle occupant is plainly endangered.

In a very recent case a jury convicted Melissa Berry of dangerous driving. She had terrified her passengers with a sustained period of very high speed up to mph driving in the lanes of Devon and hit a wall spinning her car onto its roof. The position has really not improved, arguably it has worsened, since the way in which the justice system dealt with the drivers who killed Rob Jefferies and destroyed the life of Mary Bowers caused such legitimate concerns to British Cycling and The Times Newspaper respectively.

Although some driving offence penalties have been increased, the vanishingly small prospect of conviction negates any real deterrent effect.

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The problems with jury trial for motoring offences are as follows: Motoring offences are far more likely than other serious crimes to invoke empathy and compassion from a jury. The law excludes people who have served significant prison sentences in the past 10 years from sitting on a jury.

It does not exclude the significant proportion of the population who have been fairly or unfairly in their view subject to minor penalties for road traffic infringements.

In addition we live in a motor centric society where the overwhelming majority of jurors can be expected to be drivers, many of whom will have been subject to lapses of concentration or worse whilst operating a motor vehicle.

Far fewer will have similar levels of empathy to a non-motoring and particularly a cycling victim.

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Juries have no influence over, and perhaps little understanding of, the sentence likely to be imposed if they return a guilty verdict. They may be aware that on conviction the maximum sentence for dangerous driving is 2 years and feel that imprisonment would be disproportionate to the offence.

A disinclination to expose a person with whom they may have empathy to possible imprisonment may influence their verdict. The resources devoted to a jury trial for a motorist charged with dangerous driving are disproportionate. A jury trial is expensive.

A trial that would take one day before Magistrates is likely to take three days before a jury. This is not a wise allocation of limited state resources. Delays in the Crown Court are unavoidable particularly where, as is overwhelmingly likely in driving cases, the Defendant is not remanded in custody.

Whatever the aspirations of the Criminal Procedure Rules it typically takes 6 months from the initial hearing in a Crown Court to a trial.

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There is some research evidence that certainty and speed of punishment are more important factors in deterring crime than the severity of punishment. There are now separate offences for causing death by dangerous driving and for causing serious injury by dangerous driving. A dangerous driving charge simpliciter will therefore only arise where there has been no death or serious injury.

There are strong arguments that the best form of punishment in such cases is a period of disqualification in respect of which the powers of the Magistrates and of the Crown Court are the same.

There is a very considerable temptation on the part of prosecutors to undercharge cases, or even not to charge, in order to avoid a trial by jury.

The offences of careless or inconsiderate driving for which a Defendant cannot elect jury trial are relatively minor offences designed to deal with momentary inattention, queue barging, middle lane hogging, splashing pedestrians and the like.

Dangerous driving that fits the statutory definition of driving far below the careful standard and in a manner in which danger should be obvious, should be charged as such. According to the Crown Prosecution Service typical examples from court cases of dangerous driving include going too fast, driving aggressively, ignoring road signs, overtaking dangerously or being avoidably and dangerously distracted.

The CPS have just dropped a dangerous driving charge against a pop star accepting a guilty plea to drink driving instead. The perceived difficulties in securing convictions in motoring offences have a knock on effect whereby the Police, who have the ability to decide on no further action in any case and who will perhaps even overestimate these difficulties, will often fail to take any action when they should.

The Transport Select Committee has, in its recent report on Road Traffic Law Enforcement, called on the Home Office to commission research into how complaints of collisions or near misses involving cyclists are handled by the Police and how this impacts upon the proportion of people who believe it to be too dangerous to cycle.

It is suggested that there is a clear case for removing the right to a jury trial from those charged with dangerous driving.

This could be at the discretion of the Magistrates as proposed by Jack Straw in respect of triable either way offences in It should be noted that in Scotland the mode of trial in either way offences is already not solely up to the Defendant as it is in England.

Many of the same arguments could apply also to causing death by careless driving where again the likely punishment if convicted falls within the competence of a Magistrates Court. Causing serious injury by dangerous driving and causing death by dangerous driving are much more serious offences although it should be borne in mind that the most serious of these could, and perhaps should, be charged as cases of assault occasioning grievous bodily harm and manslaughter respectively.

If reforming dangerous driving proves to be successful in terms of better deterring the crime then extensions to other driving offences could well be considered. It would, of course, be essential to take full account of the views of victims and their representatives before extending any reform to the offences which involve causing death or serious injury.

Determining mode of trial in either-way cases a consultation paper

We must certainly do something. A whole generation of citizens is being brought up to be driven everywhere, particularly to school, on the grounds that active travel is perceived by their parents to be too dangerous.Introduction.

1. These explanatory notes relate to the Criminal Justice Act which received Royal Assent on 20th November.

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They have been prepared by the Home Office in order to assist the reader in understanding the Act. (a) Required Disclosures.(1) Initial Disclosure.(A) In General.

Except as exempted by Rule 26(a)(1)(B) or as otherwise stipulated or ordered by the court, a party must, without awaiting a discovery request, provide to the other parties. In fact the Consultation Paper issued by the Ministry of Justice on the same day invites views on proposals which include increasing the current maximum sentence of 14 years imprisonment for causing death by dangerous driving to a maximum of life imprisonment.

Were it a more serious triable either way offence then large quantities of cases. The Hollywood Reporter is your source for breaking news about Hollywood and entertainment, including movies, TV, reviews and industry blogs.

The development of the courts in England and Wales during the past decade has taken place within a changing environment of political administration and has been particularly affected by the ethos that has become known as the ‘new public management’.

This ethos includes: the functional separation. What plans they have to change the procedure for determining the mode of trial in either-way cases.[HL] tried by a jury in either-way cases which magistrates have indicated that they would be content to hear.

My right honourable friend the Home Secretary having considered this recommendation and the responses to the consultation paper.

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