Swift and sure justice? Mode of trial for causing death by driving offences
journal contributionposted on 20.10.2014, 15:52 by Steven Cammiss, Sally Kyd Cunningham
In this article we present empirical evidence on the allocation of causing death by driving offences to explore the inter-relationship between different criminal justice policy goals. Specifically, we look at the decision-making of the various parties involved in such cases: the prosecution in recommending the venue for trials; the defence in deciding whether to plead guilty or to elect trial in the Crown Court; and magistrates in deciding whether to accept jurisdiction or commit to the Crown Court. These decisions are then set within the context of the Government’s desire to achieve ‘swift and sure justice’, promote correct allocation decisions for either-way offences and reduce the number of ‘cracked trials’. The data show that many of these cases are committed to the Crown Court, only to receive a sentence within the powers of magistrates, and that the proportion of cases where this happens is higher than for mainstream offences. Our contention is that although there is something special about the offences under discussion, in that the fact that a death is involved raises issues as to how justice is seen to be done, undue focus is placed upon ‘swift justice’ which generates problems later in the process.