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1.indictable offences — преступления, подлежащие рассмотрению по обвинительному акту (тяжкие уголовные преступления)

2. summary offences — преступления, преследуемые в порядке суммарного (т. е. упрощенного, без участия присяжных) произ- водства

3. either-way offences — преступления двойной подсудности (ко- торые могут быть рассмотрены в магистратском суде или в Суде Ко- роны)

4. intent — преступный умисел

5. liability — ответственность

There are three categories of crimes in the UK: indictable, summary, and either-way crimes.

Indictable offences are the most serious ones and are punishable by the longest prison terms. They include murder, rape and robbery and can only be tried in the Crown Court

Summary offences are the least serious ones, such as speeding and drunk-driving. Summary trials are heard in magistrates’ courts.

Either-way offences can be heard either in the Crown Court or by magistrates. Examples of either way offences include theft, drug offences and less serious physical violence. A magistrate can decide that an eitherway offence is serious enough to be heard in the Crown Court where the penalties prescribed can be more severe. If, however, a magistrate decides that an either-way offence can be heard as a summmary trial, the defendant can choose to move the trial to the Crown Court.

An important aspect of criminal law is that in most crimes the prosecution has to prove two elements. The first, actus reus, refers to the criminal act itself. The second, mens rea, refers to the intent to commit a crime — ‘guilty mind’. However, in some cases, such as drunk driving or speeding, the prosecution does not have to prove intent. Such offences are said to be of ‘strict liability’.

Types of serious crimes in most jurisdictions are: arson, theft, sexual offences, terrorism. In common law arson is setting fire to the dwelling of another person. Theft sometimes is still known by the traditional name of larceny which probably is the most common crime involving criminal intent. The traditional definition of theft is the physical removal of an object without the consent of the owner. Burglary is entering a building, inhabited vehicle or vessel to steal, to inflict bodily harm or to do unlawful damage. In English law, any entry by an individual into a building with intent to commit theft is burglary.

Robbery is the commission of theft in circumstances of violence. Robbery takes many forms — from the mugging of a stranger in the street to robberies of banks, involving numerous participants and careful planning.

Прочитайте и переведите текст. Oтветьте на вопросы.

1. What are the three categories of crimes?

2. In what way are indictable offences punished?

3. What offences are heard in the magistrates’ courts?

4. Can an either-way offence be heard in different courts?

5. What is known as a ‘strict liability’ offence?

6. What is the most violent crime in your opinion?


Criminal Procedure


1.reasonable grounds — достаточные основания

2. preponderance of evidence — наличие более веских доказательств

3. to plead innocent — заявить о своей невиновности

4. to take an oath — принять присягу

5. to overturn a court decision — отменить решение суда

PRETRIALSTAGE. A criminal case passes through several phases before trial. At the first stage the crime is reported and investigated. Then, if there is “probable cause”, i.e. reasonable grounds (something more than mere suspicion to believe that a particular person committed the crime)the person can be arrested. An arrest warrant is necessary unless the pressure of time requires immediate action (e.g. before the suspect flees).

Finally, criminal charges must be lodged against the defendant. Depending on the state, the charges are called either an indictment (by a grand jury) or information (by a magistrate or police officer).They must be based on probable cause, preponderance of evidence, or prosecutor’s evidence that supports a belief in the defendant’s guilt.

In the USA most cases are resolved without a trial. Attorneys for the defence and prosecution usually reach a plea bargain. The judge must decide whether the guilty plea was freely given and whether there was some factual basis for the plea, but judicial disapproval of an agreed upon plea is rare.

BURDEN OF PROOF. At the trial there is crucial difference between criminal and civil cases in the level of proof required. A civil plaintiff merely needs a preponderance of the evidence; the judge only needs to find that the evidence favours the plaintiff over the defendant. A successful criminal prosecution requires proof of guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.

The prosecuting counsel opens the case with a short description of the events of the crime and calls his witnesses. After taking an oath by the witness the prosecuting counsel begins his examination by asking the witness his/her name, profession, place of domicile. In English law, witnesses are not allowed to make lengthy statements to the court. It is the duty of the attorneys for both parties to examine and cross-examine witnesses.

THE ORDER OF PROCEEDINGS. The session is opened by the court called to order by the Clerk of the Court. The judge enters. The clerk says: “All rise”. Everyone stands up and waits for the judge to take his seat. The accused is brought into the dock and the clerk asks for his or her name. The accused answers with the appropriate plea.

In English law a person is innocent until proven guilty. This means that in a trial the burden of proof is on the prosecution and if the prosecution cannot establish a reasonable cause for conviction the court must acquit the accused.

Both the defence and prosecution give their closing arguments, the prosecution going first. The judge sums up the evidence and instructs the jury on their duties. He reminds the jury that if there is any doubt at all in their minds they must acquit the defendant. The jury retires to the jury room to consider the verdict. The verdict “not guilty” does not necessarily mean that the judge or jury believe the defendant to be innocent. It is simply a finding that there was insufficient evidence to prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.

EVIDENCE. Criminal trial courts have numerous, complex rules about what evidence is admissible, and how it may be introduced. The rules are supposed to exclude irrelevant, unreliable, or unfairly prejudicial matters, especially in jury cases (the system presupposes that a judge is less likely to be swayed by improper evidence). The jury’s verdict is to be based solely on the evidence properly brought out at the trial. Otherwise proper, highly relevant evidence may be excluded because it was obtained in violation of a defendant’s constitutional rights. Criminal appeals are often decided on such so-called technical issues.

APPEALS. The appeal is a petition for review of a case that has been decided by a court of law. The petition made to a higher court for the purpose of overturning the lower court’s decision. The specific procedures for appealing can vary greatly depending on the type of case and jurisdiction where the case was prosecuted. The appeal system is mostly for the benefit of the defendant, but it is possible for the prosecution to appeal for a retrial

Appellate courts cannot overturn a verdict simply because they disagree with it — e.g., with how the jury weighed the evidence and decided to believe one witness more than another witness. Appeals tend to focus on problems in the trial, judge’s legal ruling, the instructions to the jury, and the trial procedures, not simply in the judge’s factual interpretations.

Прочитайте и переведите текст. Ответьте на вопросы.

1. How many stages does a criminal case pass?

2. Why is the arrest warrant necessary?

3. What do criminal charges depend on?

4. Can a case be resolved without a trial?

5. How does the prosecuting counsel manage to produce the appropriate evidence in court?

6. What kind of evidence can be excluded?

7. What is the purpose of appeals?



History of Punishment


1. vindictive — мстительный, злопамятный

2. superstition — суеверие, предрассудок

3. savagery — жестокость

In a primitive society punishment was left to the individuals wronged and was vindictive or retributive: in quantity and quality it would bear no special relation to the character or gravity of the offenсe. Gradually there arose the idea of proportionate punishment of which the characteristic type is “an eye for an eye”. In early times a superstitious belief in omens, ghosts, witchcraft was very common. Superstitions maintained a grip on the lives of many people. It was tempting and easy to blame almost any misfortune on somebody else, and sometimes senile old women were the target of being accused of all kinds of witchcraft. “Witches” were frequently executed.

Trial by ordeal is a judicial practice by which the guilt or innocence of the accused is determined by subjecting them to an unpleasant, usually dangerous experience. Indeed, the term ordeal itself has the meaning of “judgment, verdict”. In some cases the accused were considered innocent if they survived the test or if their injuries healed. In others, only death was considered proof of innocence. If the accused died they were often presumed to have gone punishment. In medieval Europe trial by ordeal was considered a procedure based on the premise that God would help the innocent by performing a miracle.

With the passage of time the attitude of society towards the excesses of the criminal law gradually changed. The courts and the people themselves came to rebel against all the savagery. As to the people, the last public execution in England took place in 1868, in front of Newgate Prison. The condemned man was Michael Barrett, an Irish rebel sentenced for his part in a bomb attack. The crowd sympathized with Barrett and was so hostile towards the hangman that the execution almost caused a riot. From that time onwards all executions were held inside prisons. It was not until 1969 that the death penalty for murder was finally abolished. Imprisonment has always been a favoured form of punishment. For hundreds of years the Tower of London was regarded as the premier prison in the land.

The progress of civilization has resulted in a vast change in both the theory and in the method of punishment. With the growth of law, the state took over the punitive function and provided itself with the machinery of justice for the maintenance of public order. From that time crimes were against the state, and such punishment as lynching became illegal. In the eighteenth century the humanitarian movement began to teach the dignity of the individual and to emphasize rationality and responsibility. The result was the reduction of punishment both in quantity and in severity, the improvement of the prison system, and the first attempts to study the psychology of crime and to distinguish classes of criminals with a view to their improvement. Later law breakers were considered as a product of social evolution and cannot be regarded as solely responsible for their disposition to offences. Crime was treated as a disease. Punishment, therefore, can be justified only if it either protects society or acts as a deterrent, or when it aims at the moral regeneration of the criminal.

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