Thursday, 6 October 2011

Law lecture 2 -reporting crime and law court

Reporting crime and law court – chapter 2-7

Contempt of court: It can be as simple as disrupting a court of justice or using recording equipment - but for journalists this is the biggest risk: (Mac Nae's definition) "When material is published which creates a substantial risk of serious prejudice or impediment to particular legal proceedings which are active". In human words, you cannot publish anything about the accused person or victims, (apart from what is listed below) you cannot interview their friends, enemies or witnesses - while the case is active. It could influence the jury and make them base their opinion on the wrong pieces of evidence. In fact you should not interview witnesses of a crime, even when the trial is over.

Pre trial reports – 7 points (What you can publish when the case is active)

-names of defendants, ages, addresses, occupations
-charged faced or a close summary
-name of court and magistrate's names
-Names of solicitors or barristers present
-date and place to where case is adjourned
-Any arrangement as to bail
-Whether legal aid was granted

When does a case become legally active? – a definite prospect of a person facing trial
-When police make an arrest
-When an arrest warrant is issued
-A summons is issued by magistrates
-A person has been charged

Detention without charge:
-Police have 24hrs to question
-Senior officers can extend by 12hrs
-Magistrates can extend by 36hrs
-Cannot exceed 96hrs
-In suspected terrorism cases – up to 28 days

Categories of offences

-Indictable only – possible sentence of 5yrs+
-Either way – can go to crown court or Magistrates court
-Summary: stays with magistrates

Magistrates' powers

-6 months jail – fines up to £5,000
-Suspended sentences
-Conditional discharge
-Community orders, binding over
-ASBOs (Anti Social Behaviour)

Key stages of trial

-prosecution opening
-Key prosecution witnesses
-defence opening
-key defence witnesses
-judge's summing up
-Jury sent out, deliberation and verdict


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