Prosecuting cases of bad riding or driving
Road Traffic Offences: Guidance on Prosecuting Cases of Bad Driving
At Your Key we are often asked about motoring offences. Sorry but we cannot always publish the questions as most involve a possible prosecution.
We thought it would be helpful to explain what are the motoring offences and the reason why some riders and drivers are prosecuted, and some are not.
The Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) has the final decision to prosecute, and they very kindly have published their guidelines. We have taken the information below from those guidelines. We have shortened some of the explanations, and removed some of the over legal sections.
The offences which cover the range of bad driving are (each is linked to the CPS website):
* Murder and Manslaughter
* Corporate Manslaughter
* Causing death by dangerous driving
* Causing death by careless driving when under the influence of drink or drugs
* Causing death by careless driving
* Causing death by driving while unlicensed; uninsured or disqualified
* Dangerous Driving
* Careless/inconsiderate driving
* Driving without reasonable consideration
* Wanton and Furious Driving
* Taking a Conveyance without Authority
* Aggravated Vehicle Taking.
Who is responsible for deciding to charge a suspect with a crime?
When a crime is reported to the police they are responsible for investigating the crime to find out:
* What actually happened
* Who was responsible
Once the police have completed their investigations, they will refer the case to the Crown Prosecution Service for advice on how to proceed. We will then make a decision on whether a suspect should be charged, and what that charge should be.
What is the difference between the police and The Crown Prosecution Service?
* The police arrest and question, they gather evidence and take witness statements.
* The Crown Prosecution Service is responsible for charging and prosecuting. They decide if the evidence is good enough to go to court and they prosecute the case in a court of law.
How do Crown Prosecutors make the decision to charge a suspect with a crime?
The Crown Prosecutor will read the papers in the file and look at the evidence collected by the police. They then consider whether the case passes the two tests laid down in The Code for Crown Prosecutors.
1.The Evidential Test
The prosecutor must first decide whether or not there is enough evidence against the defendant for them to be convicted of the crime in a court of law.
This means that the magistrates or jury are more likely than not to convict the defendant of the charge. If there is not a realistic prospect of conviction, the case must not go ahead, no matter how important or serious it may be.
It is the duty of every Crown Prosecutor to make sure that the right person is prosecuted for the right offence. In doing so, Crown Prosecutors must always act in the interests of justice and not just to get a conviction.
2. The Public Interest Test
If the prosecutor decides that there is a realistic prospect of conviction, he or she must then consider whether it is in the public interest to prosecute the defendant. Broadly speaking the more serious an alleged offence the more likely it will be that a prosecution is needed in the public interest. However each case is looked at individually.
A prosecution is less likely to be needed if, for example, a court would be likely to fix a minimal or token penalty, or the loss or harm connected with the offence was minor and the result of a single incident.
The interests of the victim are an important factor when considering the public interest. Crown Prosecutors will always take into account the consequences for the victim and any views expressed by the victim or victim’s family.
However, The Crown Prosecution Service does not act for victims or the families of victims in the same way as solicitors act for their clients. We act on behalf of the public and not just in the interests of any particular individual.
What happens when we decide to prosecute?
Once the Crown Prosecution Service has decided that a case passes the two tests they will then specify what offence the defendant should be charged with. The defendant will then be charged by the police. In most circumstances they then release the defendant on bail, with a bail sheet that states where and when they should attend court to answer the charge against them. In some cases, such as where the defendant is thought to be dangerous, bail may be refused and the defendant is kept in custody until their first court appearance.
What happens when we decide not to prosecute?
If a Crown Prosecutor decides that a prosecution should not go ahead, the case will be stopped, usually by what is called ‘discontinuance’. Unless there are special circumstances which mean that it is not appropriate to do so, the victim will be told the reasons for the decision to stop the case.
Often the hardest decision can be to conclude that there isn’t enough of a case to go to court, even where the public favour a prosecution.
The decisions made by the CPS are based on publicly available, clear and visible legal guidance.bad driving prosecution.