Arrest him DS Jones!
December 1, 2011 6:57 PM   Subscribe

What is the statute of limitations for a juvenile assaulting another juvenile in England. I'm in the US., laid up for a few days and have been watching "Midsommer Murders" on DVD. This would answer a plot point I have. This is a VERY dangerous town to live in, every show 2 to 3 people die. Don't go there! Thanks
posted by Pecantree to Law & Government (3 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
I am a US attorney, but I am not your attorney. This is not legal advice, and I assume you are asking purely in regards to the television series.

As I understand it the general rule in the UK, unlike the US, is that there is not a statute of limitations for crimes. There are exceptions, however. For example, a charge of treason must be brought within three years, per the (still in force) Treason Act of 1695. So it wouldn't surprise me if there were no statute of limitations for assault, juvenile or otherwise, in England.
posted by jedicus at 8:41 PM on December 1, 2011 [1 favorite]

Not a lawyer but I work in the English justice system. As Jedicus says there is generally no statute of limitations for criminal offences in England; although with assault offences the prosecution might have a job proving the nature and extent of injuries unless photographic or medical evidence existed from the time. This might in practice limit the ability of the prosecution to bring charges in some cases.
posted by greycap at 9:55 PM on December 1, 2011

At common law there is no time limit for the Crown to prosecute, though statute does vary this somewhat. It depends on the nature of the assault, and whether it's summary or indictable.

The courts distinguish between "summary" offences heard by a magistrate and "indictable" offences heard in Crown Court in front of a jury - and there are some offences which are called "either way", so they can be heard either by a bench of magistrates or tried by a jury. Common assault, such as a minor scuffle, a single punch, something causing only minor injury etc. would generally be a summary offence. More serious assault, for example, involving the use of weapons, or where serious injury occurs, is more likely to be indictable.

If an offence is borderline, it may start in the Magistrates' Court but be sent by them up to the Crown Court, which has greater sentencing powers. But for a fairly minor assault it would probably be common assault or battery under the Criminal Justice Act 1988 s 39. This is a summary offence.

A time limit is imposed on summary offences by virtue of the Magistrates' Court Act 1980 s 127(1), which states that:

"Except as otherwise expressly provided by any enactment and subject to subsection (2) below, a magistrates’ court shall not try an information or hear a complaint unless the information was laid, or the complaint made, within 6 months from the time when the offence was committed, or the matter of complaint arose."

There does not appear to be any exemption in place for common assault in relation to this section, so the magistrates should not hear the complaint more than 6 months after the incident occurred.

There is no time limit for commencing proceedings for an indictable offence (including an either way offence). However, in all cases, this should be done as soon as possible, as the courts have discretion to dismiss a summons on the grounds of abuse of process where there has been unjustified delay by the Crown in bringing the case.
posted by essexjan at 12:56 AM on December 2, 2011 [1 favorite]

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