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The Criminal Procedure Rules Explained

Author: Niall Hearty  18 September 2023
2 min read

What are the Criminal Procedure Rules?

The Criminal Procedure Rules relate to how matters should be carried out in criminal courts. They cover cases that go to the magistrates’ courts, the Crown Court, the Court of Appeal and, in extradition appeal cases, the High Court. Each part of the Criminal Procedure Rules relates to part of that process.

When someone is accused of a crime, they may be sent a notice, which is known as a summons or a requisition. This tells that person to go to court on a particular date in the notice or to fill in a form that has been sent with the notice and send that form to the court.

Sometimes, however, the person is arrested. This requires those doing the arresting to have an arrest warrant. An arrest warrant is issued by a court to authorise the arrest. The arrested person is questioned and then may be charged; which means they are formally accused of the crime. They will then either be taken to court or given a date when they must go to court.

In the Criminal Procedure Rules, anyone who is accused of a crime is called a defendant. The authority responsible for prosecuting the case in court is called the prosecutor. For most cases, it will be the Crown Prosecution Service that is the prosecutor.

What do the Criminal Procedure Rules cover?

The Criminal Procedure Rules relate to all aspects of the court prosecution process. They explain:

  • The powers of those who work in the courts – the court officers.
  • The powers courts use to make sure a trial goes head on time and is carried out fairly.
  • How the courts and others involved in a case should send documents and information to each other.
  • How cases can be reported, including situations where there are restrictions on reporting.
  • How a prosecutor should start a case.
  • The information the prosecutor must give the defendant at the start of the case.
  • Which cases go to which courts for trial.
  • How an indictment (the formal accusation against a defendant) should be prepared.
  • What a prosecutor must do to stop a prosecution.
  • The information that must be included in an arrest warrant.
  • The rules relating to a person being released on bail or kept in custody after they have been arrested.
  • How evidence and other relevant information should be managed by the prosecutor and shared with the defendant.
  • How the trial of a defendant and – if found guilty – their sentencing should be carried out.
  • How a defendant can appeal against their conviction or their sentence.

Changes to the Criminal Procedure Rules

Since coming into force in 2005, the Criminal Procedure Rules have been subject to a number of changes.

Most recently, the introduction of the Criminal Procedure (Amendment No. 2) Rules 2022 was designed to achieve a number of goals, including supplementing the provisions of the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Act 2022 and the Judicial Review and Courts Act 2022.

The 2022 changes to the Criminal Procedure Rules ushered in significant changes in relation to private prosecutions. Read our article The Criminal Procedure Rules in Relation To Private Prosecutions to learn more.

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Niall Hearty


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Niall has a wealth of corporate crime expertise and an ability to coordinate global bribery and corruption cases. His achievements in such investigations have made him a logical choice for corporate clients.

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