Supreme Court (Criminal) Jurisdiction

 

The Supreme Court (Criminal) deals with appeals from the decisions of the lower courts (the Magistrate's Court and the Summary Court) and the trial of indictment only offences.

Indictment only offences

Indictment only offences consist of the most serious criminal offences, such as treason and murder. They are dealt with by the Chief Justice or an Acting Judge of the Supreme Court, who have unlimited powers of sentence. In these matters the defendant may elect to have their trial heard either by a jury or by Judge sitting alone.

Trial by jury takes place where members of the public, selected from those on the electoral role or those resident in the Falkland Islands for three years or more and holding a work permit or a permanent resident permit, are summonsed to attend as jurors. Dependent upon the type of crime before the court, the jury may consist of 12 people (murder and treason) or of 7 people (all other indictment only matters). The jury listens to the evidence and then determines the innocence or guilt of the defendant. If the defendant is convicted he or she will then be sentenced by the Judge. The Supreme Court is the only criminal court in the Falkland Islands for which a jury may be summonsed.

Trial by Judge is where the Chief Justice or an Acting Judge of the Supreme Court sits alone to hear the evidence. He or she determines the innocence or guilt of the defendant and, if he or she finds the defendant guilty, is responsible for detemining sentence. The maximum sentence that the Chief Justice or an Acting Judge of the Supreme Court may give if someone is convicted before him is determined by law.

When dealing with an indictment only matter for trial, the practice and procedure of the Supreme Court will be the same as the Crown Court in England.

Appeals

Where a defendant pleads not guilty to an offence before either the Magistrate's Court or the Summary Court and is subsequently convicted, they may, if they are aggrieved with the decision of the lower court, appeal that conviction and any subsequent sentence to the Supreme Court.

Where a defendant enters a guilty plea to an offence before the Magistrate's or the Summary Court and they are subsequently sentenced, they may, if they are aggrieved with their sentence, appeal to the Supreme Court.

There are strict time scales within which you must lodge any appeal to the Supreme Court and you are advised to seek independent legal advice should you wish to make an appeal. Please read the FAQ "I am unhappy with the sentence I have been given, what can I do?" for further information.

Where an individual appears before the Summary Court and believes that any decision of the Justices of the Peace is either wrong in law or in excess of their powers, they may apply to the Justices to state a case for the opinion of the Supreme Court. This is not a conventional appeal; it deals with situations where the facts put forward to the higher court are agreed between the parties but allows the applicant to ask the court to consider whether what the lower court did was correct in law. This may include decisions that are made during the life of a case, such as a decision to adjourn a case or to admit evidence.  Should you apply to the Justices to state a case then any right you may have had to appeal to the Supreme Court disappears. Should you be considering applying to the Justices to state a case please seek independent legal advice.

When hearing a criminal appeal, the practice and proceedure of the Supreme Court will be that of the Court of Appeal of England.

Appeals Practice Direction issued 30th September 2015

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