Commencing criminal proceedings—applying for the issue of a summons
Commencing criminal proceedings—applying for the issue of a summons

The following Corporate Crime guidance note provides comprehensive and up to date legal information covering:

  • Commencing criminal proceedings—applying for the issue of a summons
  • Instituting proceedings by way of police charge
  • Instituting proceedings by way of application for the issue of a summons
  • Amendment of a summons
  • Time limits for summary only offences
  • Amendment of summons outside statutory time limits

All criminal cases begin in the magistrates' court however serious the offence. There are a number of ways of commencing criminal proceedings in England and Wales:

  1. the defendant may be arrested and charged by the police and required to attend a magistrates’ court (see below: Instituting proceedings by way of police charge)

  2. a public prosecutor may issue a written charge together with a requisition requiring the defendant to attend a magistrates’ court on a specified date and time (see Practice Note: Commencing criminal proceedings—written charge and requisition or single justice procedure notice)

  3. where available, a public prosecutor may issue a written charge together with a single justice procedure notice requiring the defendant to indicate a plea and if guilty, consent to the disposal of the case by use of the single justice procedure on the papers (see Practice Notes: Commencing criminal proceedings—written charge and requisition or single justice procedure notice and Single justice procedure)

  4. the prosecutor can make an application (often referred to as ‘an information’) to the magistrates’ to obtain a summons issued by the court requiring the defendant to attend court on a specified date and time to answer the charge (see Practice Note: Drafting an information)

The procedure which must be followed when commencing a criminal prosecution is contained in the Criminal Procedure Rules 2015 (CrimPR), SI 2015/1490, Pt