The nature of law. Criminal courts and criminal processes

The following topics form the Unit The nature of law. Criminal courts and criminal processes

The nature of law

What is law?
Basic definition of law; the distinction between law and morals.
Why we need law?
Public order; protecting individual freedoms; regulating relationships; setting standards; providing solutions for legal problems.
Where we find the law
English law can be found in Acts of Parliament and delegated legislation; in the judgments of decided cases; and in the law of the European Union (EU).
Classifications of law
Main distinctions between criminal law and civil law; basic definitions of criminal law; contract law and law of torts.

Criminal courts and processes

Police powers and individual rights
Powers to stop and search; powers of arrest; powers of detention and the treatment of suspects at the police station. The balance between supporting the rights of individuals and allowing the police the power to investigate crime.
Court structure, types of offence and provision of legal services
Classification of offences according to seriousness – summary; triable either way; indictable; the main courts; Magistrates’ Court and Crown Court; trial process; the possibility of appeals; provision of duty solicitor scheme.
Sentencing aims and objectives; factors which might be taken into account when sentencing; types of sentence for adults; types of sentence for young offenders, eg custodial, community, fines and discharges, compensation; the need for proportionality in sentencing.
Use of lay magistrates and juries
Reasons for using lay magistrates, appointment and social background; training; role, criticisms of the use of magistrates.
Qualification and selection of juries; role in criminal cases (some reference to limited role in civil actions); advantages and disadvantages of using juries, alternatives to using juries.



© OCR 2011
GCSE Law September 2011



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