Either-Way Offence in England and Wales

Either-Way Offence in England and Wales

In England and Wales, an either-way offence, also known as a hybrid offence, dual offence, Crown option offence, dual procedure offence, offence triable either way, or wobbler, refers to a criminal offence that can be tried in either the Magistrates' Court or the Crown Court, depending on various factors.

These offences fall between summary offences tried in the Magistrates' Court and indictable offences tried in the Crown Court. The decision on whether an either-way offence should be tried in the Magistrates' Court or the Crown Court is made during an initial hearing called the mode of trial hearing. Factors considered in making this determination include:

Seriousness of the offence: The court will consider the nature and circumstances of the offence to assess its overall seriousness. The general rule is that serious offences will be tried in the Crown Court and less serious offences will be tried in the Magistrates' Court.

Sentencing powers: The court will consider the maximum penalties available for the offence. If the Magistrates' Court has sufficient sentencing powers to handle the case, it may remain there. If the offence carries higher penalties that can only be imposed by the Crown Court, the case is likely to be sent to the Crown Court.

Defendant's election: The defendant may have the right to choose whether the case is heard in the Magistrates' Court (summary trial) or the Crown Court (trial on indictment). The defendant must indicate his preference during the mode of trial hearing.

Complex legal or factual issues: If the case involves complex legal or factual matters, it may be more suitable for trial in the Crown Court.

During an either-way offence trial, if the defendant chooses a summary trial in the Magistrates' Court, the case will be heard by a magistrate or a panel of magistrates without a jury. If the defendant chooses a trial on indictment in the Crown Court, the case will be heard before a judge and jury.

However, it should be noted that the availability of an either-way offence and the specific factors considered during the mode of trial hearing may vary based on the specific legislation in place, which may specifies the type of trial.
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