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What's the difference between indictable and summary offences?

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In England, Criminal cases are tried in two ways, but are classified in three ways. 1. Summary 2. Triable either way 3. Indictable. Summary offences are the run of the mill charges/informations such as battery and most motoring offences. The defendant will be tried by a bench of lay magistrates, who are advised on legal matters by the Clerk of the Court (aka Legal Adviser) who is a qualified lawyer. Very occasionally, a District Judge (a trained lawyer of at least 7 years experience) will adjudicate. The Magistrates decide if the Prosecution have proved beyond reasonable doubt that the defendant is guilty of the offence. Indictable offences are tried in the Crown Court by a Judge and with a Jury. The offences that are indictable are the most serious - murder, rape, grievious bodily harm. The Jury decides if the Prosecution have proved beyond reasonable doubt that the defendant is guilty or otherwise. Cases that are triable either way are intermediate crimes such as burglary. The ... more
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