Frequently asked questions by the media
On what basis was the decision made to prosecute or not to prosecute?
All decisions on whether to charge or continue to prosecute are made in accordance with the Code for Crown Prosecutors. We have to decide if there is sufficient evidence to provide a realistic prospect of conviction and if it is in the public interest to prosecute. We only prosecute when both evidential and public interest tests are satisfied.
Can the CPS appeal against the sentence imposed by the court?
There is no right of appeal against a sentence imposed by a Magistrates' Court. Whilst the CPS has no direct right of appeal against a sentence imposed by the Crown Court, the Attorney General is responsible for referring Crown Court sentences for certain serious offences to the Court of Appeal if he believes that a sentence may be unduly lenient. The power applies only to sentences that are unduly lenient and not to sentences that are simply lenient.
A sentence is unduly lenient: " ... where it falls outside the range of sentences which the judge, applying his mind to all the relevant factors, could reasonably consider appropriate."
There must have been some error of principle in the judge's sentence, such that, in the absence of the sentence being altered by the Court, public confidence would be damaged. The court should only grant leave in exceptional circumstances, and not in borderline cases.
If the CPS feels a sentence may be unduly lenient, the CPS will draw it to the attention of the Attorney General for his consideration. Any member of the public may also draw the sentence to the attention of the Attorney General.
Does CPS have a right of appeal against other decisions made by the court?
Bail: the CPS has right of appeal against the decision of a Magistrates' Court to grant bail where the offence is punishable by imprisonment. For further details, please see national legal guidance on bail. The CPS generally has no right of appeal against the decision of the Crown Court to grant bail. In exceptional circumstances the CPS may consider applying to the High Court for Judicial Review of the bail decision. The power of the High Court to alter the decision is exercised very sparingly and the power may not be available once the defendants case has been sent to the Crown Court.
Terminating rulings: section 58 of the Criminal Justice Act 2003 provides an interlocutory prosecution right of appeal to the Court of Appeal against certain rulings made by a Crown Court judge. The ruling must have the effect of terminating the case so that there can be no further prosecution. Examples of rulings which have the effect of terminating the case include ruling that there is no case to answer and decisions to stay the indictment for abuse of process. For further details, please see national legal guidance on terminating rulings
Appeals to the administrative court (Judicial Review and Case Stated): Please see national legal guidance. CPS has a limited right of appeal against decisions of a Magistrates' Court and a very narrow range of decisions of the Crown Court. The challenge must be a point of law or on the basis that the decision is one which no reasonable court should have made.
Attorney Generals reference on a point of law: Where a person tried at the Crown Court has been acquitted on all or part of an indictment, the Attorney General has the discretion to seek the opinion of the Court of Appeal on a point of law which has arisen in the case (Section 36(1) of the Criminal Justice Act 1972). The procedure does not constitute an appeal- the acquittal of the defendant must always stand following the hearing at the Court of Appeal. For further details, please see national legal guidance
Why has CPS taken over this private prosecution?
We recognise that the right to bring a private prosecution should remain and that we should not take over a private prosecution unless there is a good reason to do so for the public good.
Find out more about private prosecutions