Traible Either-Way Crimes | Read Time 2-4 Minutes.
In the UK, nearly all criminal cases will begin in magistrates’ courts. The magistrates’ courts normally deal with low severity cases and refer to them as summary offences. Whilst, the crown court deals with high severity cases and refers to them as indictable offences.
There are three types of criminal offences under UK law, which include:
The seriousness of an offence will typically dictate if the case will remain in magistrates’ court, or if it will be heard in crown court.
For the purposes of this article, we will be explaining what an either way offence entails, how they are decided by the courts, and the benefits of using a solicitor when facing this type of prosecution.
What is a triable either way offence?
Put simply, when an offence is triable either way it means that the crime is of medium severity and can be tried in either the magistrates’ or crown court.
How is it decided where the case will be heard?
In the first hearing at the magistrates’ court, it will be determined if the magistrates’ court has sufficient power to handle the matter based on the initial facts and evidence. If it is decided that the magistrates’ court has sufficient capacity to deal with the offence, they will give the perpetrator (the criminal) the decision to either have their case dealt with summarily in the magistrates’ court or by indictment (trial by jury) in the crown court.
When might a triable either way offence be assigned to a certain court?
There are three exceptions that determine if the offence will be tried in a particular court, which include:
1. If the crime concerns criminal damage (except arson) or any offences connected with criminal damage, and the damage is under the value of £5,000, the case must be tried in crown court.
2. When a prosecution is being led by a Solicitor General or Director of Public Prosecutions, and they apply for trial on indictment (high severity offence), the case must be heard in the crown court.
3. If the defendant is under the age of 18, he must be tried in magistrates’ unless he is charged with either:
- A crime where the individual has been jointly involved with a person over the age of 17, and it’s decided they should be tried together
- A violent or sexual crime for which an adult could be sentenced to 10 years’ imprisonment or more
- A firearms crime carrying a mandatory minimum sentence
- Certain other specified crimes can be punished by lengthy detention
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What are examples of either way offences?
Either way offences are categorised as mid-level crimes in terms of seriousness. These types of crimes, due to their severity, can be heard in either the magistrates’ court or crown court. Furthermore, either way offences cover a wide variety of crimes. Below, are some examples of the most common either way offences:
This type of crime involves someone stealing anything from a pack of chewing gum to a priceless antique.
Burglary involves someone breaking and entering to commit a crime. Most commonly, this will involve either theft or inflicting or attempting to inflict grievous bodily harm.
Affray is a crime that involves the use of unlawful fighting or a display of force by at least one person against others. A common example of this could be getting into a fight in a pub or nightclub.
How can a solicitor help?
It is essential to seek legal assistance when facing a triable either way offence. This is because there are important tactical and financial considerations that can be used within these types of cases.
Typically, offences that are tried in the crown court carry heavier sentences. Therefore, it is essential you seek the legal advice of a lawyer as they can advise as to what court to have your case heard at providing you with expert legal representation, giving you the best chance of success.