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The Indictment Notes

Law Notes > Criminal Procedure and Evidence Notes

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A more recent version of these The Indictment notes – written by Oxford students – is available here.

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THE INDICTMENT Indictment: formal document w/ list of charges against the accused to which he pleads guilty/not guilty at the beginning of the trial.
? Sources of law are primarily the Indictments Act 1915 (IA) and Crim PR Part 14.-Offences set out in separate counts, each count containing 1 offence. o Indictment might contain 2+ counts against accused o 2+ accused might be charged in a single count if the prosecution argue they acted together to commit the offence o 2+ can be charged in a single indictment even though not alleged to have committed a single offence together - generally where all offences in same incident. Rules on preferring the draft indictment o Should be preferred within 28 days of committal etc. (Crim PR r.14.1) but in practice rules allow Crown Court officer to extend 28 day period even after expiry. What charges may be included o Drafter not bound by the offences for which D was committed by the magistrates in committal proceedings. o Can include any counts for indictable offences he considers to be disclosed by the evidence.
? But power to include count for offence mag court expressly refused to commit should be exercised exceptionally - Dawson.

Contents of the count
? Statement of the offence, giving short name, the statute contravened if statutory, and the particulars of the offence.
? s.3 IA - 'such particulars as may be necessary for giving reasonable information as to the nature of the charge'. o & crim PR r.14.2(1) - any legislation and the particulars of the conduct constituting the commission of the offence making clear what prosecution allege.
? Guidance from case law: o Include name - error in name not good grounds of appeal unless D couldn't be identified from it. o Date of offence - also not necessarily grounds of appeal. o Mention elements but don't need to say them all in full. o If property involved, the owner of the property o Place should be mentioned if the offence requires it to have been committed in particular place. Rule against duplicity - Indictment can contain several counts but each count can only allege one offence.
- if 2+ offences alleged in 1 count, D can bring motion to quash
- e.g. "A murdered or unlawfully killed B" - bad for duplicity.
- Applied practically, so 'A stole a dress belonging to S on 1 January and a coat belonging to M on 5 January' wouldn't be okay, but one saying 'A stole a dress and coat a belonging to S on 1 January' would be.

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