Who’s who in the criminal justice system
The legal system in England and Wales has been around for a long time and is widely respected. But it’s also complicated — particularly if you’ve never come into contact with it before. You can find out more about how the system works from some of the organisations involved.
For more information on the criminal justice system create a free account on My Support Space – a free online resource containing interactive guides (including journey to justice) to help you move forward after crime.
Some basic information to get you started
Almost all criminal cases begin in a magistrates’ court. Whether they end there or are sent to the Crown Court depends on how serious the crime is.
If a defendant (the person accused of a crime) is under 18, the case will normally be heard in a youth court. Hearings in the youth court are not open to the public and are less formal than adult courts. The most serious offences, however, such as murder or manslaughter, will be dealt with in the Crown Court.