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UK victims

Interactive decision tree

Interactive decision tree

Please use our interactive tool to understand more about the criminal and civil justice systems and how the two systems can interact. It outlines the main steps, and has been specifically created with the individuals and smaller business victim in mind.

Please carefully read about the main differences between the criminal and civil justice systems before using the decision tree.

Criminal: public prosecution


Depending on the seriousness of the fraud, the defendant will either be sent to the Crown Court for pre-trial hearings and trial, or will remain in the Magistrates’ Court for pre-trial hearings and trial. Similarly, if the offence is very serious, or the risk of the defendant absconding is very great, the defendant may either be refused bail, or have strict conditions attached to any bail.

Before the decision is made about which court the defendant will be sent to, the defendant will be given their first opportunity to plead guilty. If the defendant pleads guilty, the process will move to sentencing.

If the defendant pleads not guilty and the case is moved to the Crown Court for trial, then a preliminary hearing may follow if the case is very complicated or trial is likely to last over a month – this will establish the issues, a timetable, and may give the defendant a chance to enter a plea. Following any preliminary hearing there will be a Plea and Case Management Hearing, in which the judge will give certain directions and the defendant will again be given an opportunity to plead guilty. If they are needed, there can be further hearings in the lead up to trial.