The United Kingdom provides for a fair trial in Article 6 of its Human Rights Act of 1998. Article 6 provides for a "fair and independent trial and independent within a reasonable time by an independent and impartial tribunal established by law."1
The article also stipulates that the judgment from the trial will be announced publicly, but the press and public may be excluded from part or all of a trial for the sake of proceedings.
According to law, everyone charged with a criminal offense will be considered innocent until proven guilty. Furthermore, anyone with a criminal charge will have minimum rights such as: to be informed of the charge, to have proper time and assistance in preparation for the trial, among others.
Not all trials are by jury, however. The magistrates' courts, where all criminal cases start, deals with traffic offenses, minor criminal damages, drunk and disorderly offenses, and some burglary and drug offenses.2 The magistrates' courts do not have a jury and are heard by either 2-3 magistrates or a judge. There is also no jury in a special type of magistrates' court, the youth court for defendants ages 10-17.
More serious offenses like murder and rape are heard by the Crown Court. There is usually a jury present at cases in the Crown Court, along with a judge. The jury deliberates and decides whether the accused is guilty or not.3
- 1. The UK Ministry of Justice, The National Archives, The Human Rights Act of 1998, (1998), http://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/1998/42/schedule/1/part/I/chapter/5 (Last visit June 19, 2015).
- 2. Ministry of Justice, National Archives. Courts. Accessed at: https://www.gov.uk/courts.
- 3. Ministry of Justice, National Archives. Courts. Accessed at: https://www.gov.uk/courts.