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Types Of Criminal Offence

Types Of Criminal Offences In UK Law

In UK Law, there are three classifications of criminal offences, each dictating the court proceedings they undergo. These categories vary in severity, sentencing structures, court types, and decision making authorities.

Minor Offences

This category encompasses the least severe criminal acts, including:

  • Low level motoring infractions
  • Minor instances of criminal damage
  • Common assault
  • Public intoxication and disorderly conduct
  • Unauthorised use of a motor vehicle

Court Jurisdiction

Minor offences are exclusively handled in Magistrates’ Courts, although exceptions may arise when linked to either way or indictable offences.

Sentencing Parameters

Typically, minor offences carry a maximum sentence of six months’ imprisonment or a fine of £5,000. Additionally, the Magistrates’ Court may impose penalties such as driving bans or community service.

Decision Making

Cases in Magistrates’ Courts are typically presided over by either a District Judge or a bench of three Magistrates.

Wither way Offences

These offences can be tried in either a Magistrates Court or a Crown Court and span a wide range of severity, including:

  • Theft
  • Fraud
  • Assault & GBH (Grievous Bodily Harm)
  • Possession or supply of controlled substances
  • Possession of offensive weapons
  • Dangerous driving
  • Certain sexual offences and regulatory violations

Court Procedure

Individuals charged with either way offences initially appear before a Magistrates’ Court, where pleas are entered. Based on the severity of the offense and potential sentencing, the case is either retained for trial or sentencing in the Magistrates’ Court or forwarded to the Crown Court.

Indictable Only Offences

These offenses, the most severe category, are exclusively tried in the Crown Court and include crimes such as:

  • Murder
  • Rape
  • Manslaughter
  • Robbery
  • Possession of firearms
  • Causing death by dangerous driving

Contempt Of Court

Contempt of court encompasses behaviors that obstruct court proceedings or defy court orders, classified into criminal and civil contempt.

  • Criminal contempt involves willful disobedience or interference with court authority, process, or orders, potentially resulting in fines or imprisonment.
  • Civil contempt addresses non compliance with court orders to ensure compliance, with penalties such as fines or other remedies.

In both types, contempt maintains the integrity and effectiveness of the legal system, serving to uphold respect for the judiciary and legal proceedings.
BKP Solicitors