Delay in the Administration of Criminal Justice

Commonwealth Developments and Experience

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Preliminary Procedure

Where an accused person and his counsel go into court with little more in their possession than the facts contained in an indictment or summons, it is to be expected that a substantial amount of court time will be taken up not with actual adjudication but with the drawing out of information and issues from the prosecution's case. In the absence of any depth of knowledge about the strength of the case against him, the defendant will be unlikely to plead guilty at first appearance, and if the option is available, he may elect to have a preliminary inquiry in order to discover more of the nature of the case against him. If either party is ignorant of the details of a case before appearing in court, court appearances will be characterised by surprise and a confusion of the issues which will have to be clarified before the trial proper can proceed.


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