来源：普特英语听力 2011-09-27 06:00
There is no single legal system in the United Kingdom. A feature common to all systems of law in the United Kingdom is that there is no complete code. The sources of law include (1) statutes; (2) a large amount of "unwritten" or common law; (3) equity law; (4) European Community. Another common feature is the distinction made between criminal law and civil law.
1. In England and Wales, once the police have charged a person with a criminal offence, the crown Prosecution Service assumes control of the case reviews the evidence to decide whether to prosecute.
2. In Britain all criminal trial are held in open count because the criminal law presumes the innocence of the accused until he has been proved guilty beyond reasonable doubt. The prosecution and the defense get equal treatment. No accused person has to answer the question of the police before trial. He is not compelled to give evidence in count. Every accused person has the right to employ a legal adviser to conduct his defense. If he can not afford to pay, he may be granted aid at public expense. In criminal trial by jury, the judge passes sentence, but the jury decided the issue of guilt or innocence. The jury composed of 12 or ordinary people. If the verdict of the jury can not be unanimous, it must be a majority.
3.A verdict of " not guilt" means acquittal for the accused, who can never again be charged with that specific crime.
II. Criminal Courts
1. Criminal Courts in England and Wales
Magistrates' Courts which try summary offences and "either way" offences. A magistrates' court, which is open to the public and the media, usually consists of three unpaid "lay" magistrates-known as justices of the peace-who are advised on point of law and procedure by a legally qualified assistant. A Magistrates' court sits without a jury.
Youth Court which try most cases involving people under 18.
The Crown Court tries the most serious offences and 'either way" offences referred to it by magistrates. The Crown Court is presided over by High Court judges, full-time circuit Judges and part-time Recorders England and Wales are divided into six circuits for the purpose of hearing criminal case. Each circuit is divided into areas containing one or more centers of High Court and Crown Court.
2. Criminal courts in Scotland
There are three criminal courts in Scotland.（1）the High Court of Justiciary;(2) the sheriff court;(3) the district court. Scotland has two types of criminal procedure, know as solemn procedure and summary procedure. In solemn procedure, a defendant is tried by a judge sits without a jury.
3. Criminal courts in Northern Ireland
Cases involving minor summary offences are heard by magistrates' courts presided over by a full-time legally qualified resident magistrate. County courts are primarily civil law courts. The Crown Court deals with criminal trails on indictment.
1. Civil Courts in England and Wales
Magistrates' Courts have limited civil jurisdiction, The main courts of civil jurisdiction are County Courts, the High Court deals with the more complicated civil case. Its jurisdiction covers mainly civil and some criminal cases. It has three divisions: (1) the family Division; (2) the Chancery Division; (3) the Queen's Bench Division.
2. Civil Courts in Scotland
The Civil Courts are the sheriff court and the Court of session.
3. Civil Courts in Northern Ireland
County Court are primarily civil law courts. The magistrates' court also deal with certain limited classes of civil cases. The high Court of Justice the superior civil law court.
IV. The Judiciary
There is no ministry of justice in the United Kingdom. Central responsibility lies with the Lord Chancellor the Home Secretary and the Attorney General. In England and Wales, lay magistrates are appointed on behalf of the Crown by the Lord Chancellor who is advised by committees in each county. The Lord Chancellor recommends the High Court and circuit judges. The highest judicial appointments and made by the Queen on the advice of the Prime Minister.
The police service for United Kingdom is organized and controlled on a local basis under the Home Secretary and the Scottish and Northern Ireland Secretaries. London's Metropolitan Police Force is directly under the control of Home Secretary. Police officers are not allowed to join a trade union or go on strike. They do not normally carry firearms.
VI. Treatment of offenders
The chief aims of the penal system are to deter the potential lawbreaker and to reform the convicted offender.
Capital punishment ( a sentence of death ) for murder has been abolished in the U.K, through proposal for its reinstatement are regularly debated by Parliament, and it remains the penalty for treason and piracy.