Criminal trial held in the absence of the defendant
Criminal trial held in the absence of the defendant

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

  • Criminal trial held in the absence of the defendant
  • Trial in absence in the magistrates' court
  • Procedure where the defendant is absent
  • Trial in absence in the Crown Court
  • Death of the accused
  • Duties of defence representatives

Coronavirus (COVID-19): This Practice Note contains guidance impacted by the coronavirus pandemic. The Coronavirus Act 2020 (CA 2020) among other measures, makes temporary provision for the extended use of live links and audio links in criminal proceedings. See Practice Notes: Operation of the criminal courts during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic and Criminal Procedure Rules (CrimPR)—update for Coronavirus (COVID-19) as well as Availability of live links in criminal proceedings during the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic—checklist. See also Practice Note: Practical guide to remote hearings in the criminal courts during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic and Practical tips for attending remote criminal hearings during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic—checklist. For updates on key developments and related practical guidance on the implications for lawyers, see: Coronavirus (COVID-19) and the criminal justice system—overview and Practice Note: Coronavirus (COVID-19) toolkit.

In both the magistrates’ court and the Crown Court, proceeding with a trial in the absence of the defendant is a last resort and is one which the courts will try to avoid unless necessary. In R v Jones, the House of Lords held that the decision to hold a trial in the absence of a defendant must:

‘...be exercised with great caution and with close regard to the overall fairness of the proceedings; a defendant afflicted by involuntary illness or incapacity will have much stronger grounds for resisting the continuance of the

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