Правовая система в Англии и Уэльсе

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The legal system in England and Wales.

When the police believe that some body has committed a crime, they arrest that person and the case is then heard in court and treated as criminal case. The courts also deal with civil cases, where no crime has been committed, such as cases of divorce or disputes over property.

Less serious criminal and civil cases are deal with in Magistrates Courts, where there is no jury but a case is usually heard by two or three magistrates. Most magistrates, also known as Justices of the Peace (JPs), work part-time and are not paid. They are given some training but not indeed legal qualifications. A clerk of the court advises them on law. When they have heard a case, the magistrates reach a verdict and where necessary decide what punishment should be. Magistrates also decide what should happen to somebody between the time they are arrested and the time when the case is heard in court. They may grant a bail (allow the person to be free until the trial, if a sum of money is paid) or remand her or him in custody (keep the person in prison until the trial).

More serious case are heard by Judges in the crown courts (for criminal cases) or the country courts (for civil cases). In civil cases, and in cases where the defendant has pleaded guilty, the judge sits alone, without a jury, and after hearing the case, makes a decision, or judgment.

If the person accused of a crime pleads not guilty, he or she is tried before a jury. When the evidence has been heard, the judge goes over the facts of the case (the summing-up) and explains the law to the guilty. If they find the accused guilty, the judge passes sentence, that is, decides what the punishment should be.

Solicitors are lawyers who do legal business for individuals and companies and also act as advocates, representing clients in court.

Barristers used to the only lawyers allowed to appear as advocates in the higher courts. One barrister (the Counsel for the Prosecution) tries to prove in court that the accused committed the crime. The advocate representing the defendant (the Counsel for the Defense) tries to show that he or she is innocent. They call witnesses and question them about facts of the case.

The jury in England and Wales is made up of twelve ordinary people aged between 18 and 65. When they have heard the evidence and judge’s summing-up, they retire to a special room to decide whether to return a verdict of guilty or not guilty. If they all agree, they have reached a unanimous verdict. If the accused is found guilty, he or she has the right to appeal and ask for the case to be heard by higher court.