Termination of Proceedings (Including Discontinuance)
- Methods of Termination
- The Power to Discontinue
- Police: Notice of Proposed Discontinuance
- The Magistrates' Court
- The Crown Court
- Notice of discontinuance
- Service of notice
- Defendants in custody
- Defendants with mental health conditions or disorders
- Bail conditions, sureties and warrants
- Notifying victims and witnesses
- Notifying co-defendants
- Revival of proceedings: Defence
- Re-Insitution of Proceedings: Prosecution
- Withdrawal of Proceedings
- Offering No Evidence
- Leaving an Indictment or Counts to 'Lie on the File'
- Motion to Quash an Indictment
- Nolle Prosequi - Defence or Prosecution application
- Death of a Defendant
- Annex A: Table of Methods of Terminating cases
- Annex B: Template Letter for Offering No Evidence in the Crown Court by post
The responsibility for continuing with or terminating proceedings lies entirely with the CPS. Prosecutors must continuously review each case and take account of any change in circumstances (see paragraph 3.6 of the Code for Crown Prosecutors).
If the prosecutor considers the proceedings should not continue, the case should be terminated at the earliest possible opportunity. An early decision is especially important if the defendant is in custody.
It may sometimes be appropriate to change the decision of the original charging prosecutor (or of the police where they authorised charge). Where a prosecutor comes to the view that the original decision was fundamentally wrong, it is a matter of good practice to discuss the decision with a legal manager but every effort should be made to ensure that the proceedings are not delayed.
If the reason for terminating the proceedings is the insufficiency of the evidence provided to the CPS at that date, this must be made clear to the court and the defendant. If it is likely that the proceedings will be re-instated if further evidence becomes available, both the court and the defendant should be informed.
Prosecutors must be aware that decisions to terminate prosecutions are susceptible to judicial review (see legal guidance on: Appeals - Judicial Review of Prosecutorial Decisions). Accordingly, a full note of the reason for the decision is essential. The more difficult the decision, the more important it is to have a detailed note showing how the evidential and the public interest stages of the Full Code Test have been applied.
Prosecutors should also note that under the Victims' Right to Review (VRR) scheme, victims have the right to seek a review of a decision to terminate proceedings where the termination results in an end to all proceedings relating to that victim.
Methods of Termination
There are several methods by which proceedings may be terminated prior to conviction.
When termination of proceedings takes place at court, a full note should be made of what was said by each of the parties and the court.
Prosecutors can terminate proceedings in the magistrates' court by:
- discontinuance - under section 23 Prosecution of Offences Act 1985 ('s23');
- applying to withdraw the summons or charge; or
- offering no evidence
Prosecutors can terminate proceedings in the Crown Court by:
- discontinuance under section 23A Prosecution of Offences Act 1985 ('s23A');
- offering no evidence in court;
- leaving an indictment or counts to lie on the file;
- applying for a motion to quash the indictment; or
- inviting the Attorney General to enter a nolle prosequi.
It is possible for the prosecutor to terminate proceedings even after conviction, but this will only be appropriate if there is a powerful public interest reason for doing so, such as:
- the defendant has become gravely ill;
- the defendant has received a significant custodial sentence in another court for another offence; or
- it has come to light for the first time that the prosecution evidence is seriously flawed.
Termination by the CPS can occur after conviction only if:
- the court permits a change of plea;
- a magistrates' court exercises the power under section 142 Magistrates' Courts Act 1980 to reopen proceedings after conviction and/or sentence;
- a Crown Court in its appellate function directs the case to be remitted to the magistrates' court for a change of plea;
- the Court of Appeal directs a venire de novo (see below) for the case to be re-heard in the court below;
- the Criminal Cases Review Commission refers a case to the Court of Appeal.
Both the magistrates' court and the Crown Court have a common law power to permit a change of plea from guilty to not guilty at any time before the final disposal of the case (S (an infant) v Manchester City Recorder  A.C. 481 HL). This power is discretionary.
A court has no power to allow a plea of guilty to be withdrawn after sentence (R v McNally  38 Cr.App.R 90). However, where a magistrates’ court sets aside a conviction under section 142 of the Magistrates’ Courts Act 1980 it is submitted that they will then be able to allow a change of plea if it is in the interests of justice to do so.
The Court of Appeal may direct a venire de novo if it considers that there has been an irregularity of procedure sufficient to warrant that the court below should re-hear the case.
The Code for Crown Prosecutors (paragraph 4.14(c)) deals with the prosecutor's responsibility to consider the views of the victim.
In appropriate cases (e.g. homicide or where the victim is a child or an adult who lacks capacity) prosecutors should also take into account any views expressed by the victim's family.
Under the Victims' Right to Review (VRR) scheme, victims have the right to seek a review of a decision to terminate proceedings. However, prosecutors should note that the method of termination affects the victim's position and the possible outcomes under the VRR scheme:
- Following a decision to discontinue or withdraw all proceedings, the victim is entitled to a review with the possibility of reinstitution;
- Following a decision to offer no evidence in all proceedings, the victim is entitled to a review but with limited redress (no reinstitution possible); and
- Where proceedings are dismissed for want of prosecution, the victim is not entitled to a review.
Accordingly, it is vitally important that prosecutors consider and choose the method of termination with care.
Where all proceedings are terminated, the victim should be informed of the decision, the reasons for the decision, how they can obtain further information about it and their right to seek a review of the decision. (For further information, refer to the Victims' Right to Review guidance.)
Where some proceedings are terminated but others continue, or there has been a substantial alteration to the charges, the victim should be informed in accordance with the Direct Communication with Victims scheme.
When termination of proceedings takes place at court and the victim is present, prosecutors should take the opportunity to discuss the decision with the victim. Where they are not present, they must be informed of the decision as above. In every case a full note should be made of what was said by each of the parties and the court, and of any conversation held with the victim.
Consultation with the police should take place if all or part of a case is to be terminated, with the following exceptions:
- the acceptance of pleas where charges were preferred in the alternative;
- minor adjustments which do not go to the substance of the case, and which are unlikely to affect disposal or penalty;
- where local agreements specify that consultation is unnecessary.
This provides an opportunity for the police to provide additional information that may affect the prosecutor's decision, such as additional witness statements that resolve evidential problems; or background information not included on the file that may have a bearing on the public interest.
If, exceptionally, it is not possible to consult the police before the case is terminated, they should be told why the decision was made and why it was not possible to consult beforehand.
The Power to Discontinue
Timely termination of proceedings is in the interests of justice.
Sections 23 and 23A of the Prosecution of Offences Act 1985 (“the POA”) give prosecutors the power to discontinue proceedings without the need to obtain the leave of the court. Discontinuance avoids the need for a court hearing and the unnecessary attendance of the parties. It enables a defendant in custody to be released immediately without the need to wait until the next hearing.
For these reasons, and particularly where it is intended to discontinue the entire proceedings, the preferred method of termination is discontinuance whenever possible.
If it is intended to terminate some charges and not others, discontinuance may not be the most appropriate option. Indeed partial discontinuance can sometimes cause confusion and uncertainty, particularly if alternative charges are to be preferred. The defendant will have to attend court on the outstanding charges in any event.
Where a prosecutor decides to replace one charge with another charge then offering no evidence on the first will not give rise to autrefois acquit. The plea of autrefois acquit or convict is only available where the same offence is charged on the same facts: R v JFJ  EWCA Crim 569.
Police: Notice of Proposed Discontinuance
The prosecutor should notify the police of the intention to discontinue:
- using a written notice;
- explaining the reasons; and
- setting a date for a reply (as below).
In all cases sufficient time must be left to send a notice of discontinuance to the defendant and court prior to the hearing. Accordingly, the prosecutor should adopt the speediest method of communicating with the police. This may be by e-mail or by telephone as appropriate.
The Magistrates' Court
Discontinuance under s.23 can take place at any time before the magistrates begin to hear evidence in a trial, or before the accused has been sent for trial under section 51 Crime and Disorder Act 1998.
The Crown Court
The prosecutor may discontinue proceedings in the Crown Court by giving notice under section 23A of the Prosecution of Offences Act 1985.
This can only be done:
- after the accused has been sent for trial under section 51 of the Crime and Disorder Act 1998; but
- before the indictment is preferred. Under section 2(1) of the Administration of Justice (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1933 the indictment is preferred simply by a draft being served on the Crown Court in accordance with rule 10.1 of the Criminal Procedure Rules.
Notice of discontinuance
Service of notice
The discontinuance is effective from the giving of the notice to the court.
The only exception to this is where the case is discontinued at such an early stage that the magistrates’ has not been made aware of the charge. In such cases the notice should be given to the accused themselves and the discontinuance is effective from the giving of this notice (section 23(4) POA.)
Notices of discontinuance must include the following:
- The charges which are being discontinued;
- Those charges (if any) on which the prosecution are still proceeding so to which the notice does not apply;
- The reasons for the discontinuance (except in cases discontinued under section 23(4));
- (In the magistrates’ court only and not in cases discontinued under section 23(4)) the accused’s right to have proceedings revived.
Discontinuance is not a bar to re-institution of proceedings for the same offence but where the discontinuance is for insufficient evidence and it is expected that further evidence will be received which will be sufficient to meet the full code test then the notice should inform the accused accordingly. Failure to include this information could lead to a challenge seeking a stay of proceedings as an abuse of process if the charge is re-instituted.
The accused (or their solicitors) must be informed of the fact that the discontinuance notice has been sent but there is no requirement to serve them with a copy of the notice or to give the reasons for the decision.
Notices should be sent within one working day of the decision being confirmed. The accused (or their solicitor) must be informed of the discontinuance. The police should also be informed.
Defendants in custody
If the defendant is in custody the prison governor must be notified as soon as the decision is taken so that arrangements can be made, if necessary, for the release of the defendant.
This is particularly important where the only matters for which the prisoner is detained are to be discontinued. Unless the defendant is held in custody for other matters, they are entitled to immediate release.
Informing the prison where the defendant is detained should be done initially by telephone and confirmed in writing by letter. It is not usually necessary to telephone if only some of the offences for which the defendant is remanded in custody are being discontinued.
The usual point of contact by telephone is the prison discipline office, which holds prisoners' records. The prison will need to know the following:
- the full name and date of birth of the prisoner;
- the prison number (if known);
- the offences with which they are charged;
- the court date and location;
- the offences that are being discontinued; and
- whether any offences remain outstanding.
The prison may wish to return the call to a recognised official telephone number in order to confirm the identity of the caller.
Written confirmation of the information given in the telephone conversation must be sent to the prison immediately afterwards. Usually a letter with a copy of the defendant's notice of discontinuance will suffice.
Defendants with mental health conditions or disorders
The prosecutor should make Immediate telephone contact with the relevant Mental Health Casework Section Caseworker in cases in which the defendant:
- has been transferred to hospital from prison while on remand under section 48 Mental Health Act 1983; or
- is a restricted patient who is detained under sections 37 and 41 Mental Health Act 1983.
Follow this link for the relevant telephone numbers on the Ministry of Justice website.
The out of office telephone number is the Home Office switchboard: dial 020 7035 4848 and select option 4.
See the legal guidance on suspects and defendants with mental health conditions and disorders elsewhere in legal guidance for further information.
Bail conditions, sureties and warrants
Discontinuance automatically removes any bail conditions that apply to the terminated proceedings. The police should be reminded that the bail conditions no longer exist in order to avoid any arrest for breach of lapsed conditions.
The court has a duty to inform sureties and persons responsible for ensuring compliance with bail conditions that the proceedings have been discontinued.
If a Bench Warrant has been issued by the court in respect of the discontinued proceedings, the prosecutor should ask the police to return the warrant to the court.
Notifying victims and witnesses
The prosecution should ensure that witnesses and victims (or their relatives) are advised of, and given an explanation for, the termination of proceedings. See the Victims' Right to Review scheme for further detail.
Discontinuance against one person may affect a co-defendant's position. Where prosecutors discontinue a case either wholly or in part against one defendant involved with others, they must inform all co-defendants of that fact in writing. Notification should be given at the same time as the discontinuance notice is sent.
The letter should state which offences are to be terminated, and which are to continue. No reason for the decision should or need be given. If represented, the letter should be sent to the co-defendant's solicitors.
Revival of proceedings: Defence
The defendant has a right to request the revival of proceedings which have been discontinued in the magistrates' court (unless discontinued under section 23(4) Prosecution of Offences Act 1985 before the court has been informed of the charge).
The most likely reason for a revival notice is the defendant's wish to be formally acquitted on the offence or offences charged.
The defendant must make the request within not more than 25 business days of the notice being sent to the court (Criminal Procedure Rules, rule 12.3).
The revival request does not affect the termination of orders regarding bail or custody. If the defendant has been released from custody following the discontinuance of the case under s.23, they cannot be detained if the proceedings are revived.
Unless circumstances have changed significantly since the notice of discontinuance was issued, to the extent that the proceedings should now continue, the prosecution will formally offer no evidence in court.
Re-Institution of Proceedings: Prosecution
Sections 23(9) and 23A(5) of the Prosecution of Offences Act 1985 provide that discontinuance does not prevent the institution of fresh proceedings in respect of the same offence.
Any decision to re-institute proceedings must be taken having regard to the guidance contained at paragraph10 of the Code for Crown Prosecutors.
Fresh proceedings may be commenced if further evidence, sufficient to provide a realistic prospect of conviction, subsequently comes to light.
Proceedings may also be reinstituted following a review under the Victims' Right to Review scheme where the prosecution conclude:
- the earlier decision was wrong in applying the evidential or public interest stages of the Full Code Test; and
- that for the maintenance of public confidence, the decision must be reversed.
Where the proceedings were discontinued on public interest grounds, however, it is appropriate to re-institute proceedings only in exceptional cases.
For further information about the principles to be applied in such cases and the appropriate level at which the decision should be made, refer to the legal guidance on Reconsidering a Prosecution Decision elsewhere in Legal Guidance.
Withdrawal of Proceedings
Offences can be withdrawn by the prosecutor in the magistrates' court (only) at any time before adjudication by the court. If proceedings are withdrawn in anticipation that they may be re-instituted if additional evidence comes to light, this should be made clear in court.
Leave to withdraw is required. The court has complete discretion whether to grant leave. The prosecuting advocate will need to give sufficient reasons to satisfy the court that the application is a proper one. The defendant is entitled to make representations as to whether they should be entitled to an acquittal.
If proceedings are withdrawn, there is no technical bar to instituting further proceedings for the same offence at a later date. CPS policy on the re-institution of proceedings will apply to any such decision. Refer to the legal guidance on Reconsidering a Prosecution Decision elsewhere in the Legal Guidance.
The court may refuse leave to withdraw the proceedings. If this occurs, and the prosecuting advocate is still of the view that the matter should be abandoned, then no evidence should be offered. This will result in the dismissal of the charge which should be regarded as final as any attempt to re-instate the charge is likely to fail due to the rule against double jeopardy. In all cases when termination of proceedings takes place at court, a full note should be made of what was said by each of the parties and the court.
Offering No Evidence
The prosecutor may offer no evidence in either magistrates' court or Crown Court proceedings.
In the magistrates' court the effect of offering no evidence depends on the type of offence and whether the magistrates have accepted jurisdiction.
In a summary trial the prosecuting advocate may offer no evidence at any stage prior to evidence being heard. Where during the course of the prosecution case the prosecutor decides that the evidence cannot be relied upon and the prosecution should not seek a conviction they should call no further evidence and invite the court to acquit. Whilst it is the court’s decision on whether the evidence they have already heard is sufficient for the defendant to have a case to answer or not, in practice it is very unlikely that any magistrates’ court would not agree to acquit where the prosecution no longer sought a conviction. See R v Gordon (1993) 96 Cr App R 156 for the Court of Appeal’s decision where a similar situation arose in the Crown Court. Offering no evidence will result in the acquittal of the defendant. The same charge or charges cannot normally be re-instituted and prosecutors should take care to consider the impact of offering no evidence rather than discontinuing proceedings.
Of particular importance is that it also affects the victim's position under the Victims' Right to Review Scheme.
However, it is not always the case that offering no evidence (resulting in the case being dismissed) will prevent the re-institution of proceedings. See DPP v Jarman  EWHC 4391 (Admin): where a case was dismissed under section 15 of the Magistrates’ Courts Act 1980 (non-appearance of the prosecutor.) Held that this was not equivalent to an acquittal because (a) the case was summary only (and so section 27 of the Magistrates’ Courts Act did not apply) and (b) the defendant had never been in peril of conviction. See also R v JFJ supra.
If discontinuance under section 23A Prosecution of Offences Act 1985 is not available, the only method by which the prosecutor can terminate proceedings altogether is to offer no evidence. This applies both to individual counts and to the whole indictment.
Offering no evidence may be done in court or it may, if the court and the defence agree, be done by post. The defence should be contacted initially by telephone to seek their agreement. If this is forthcoming, a letter should be sent to them and to the court. The template letter for use in the postal procedure can be found at Annex B and sets out the procedure to be followed. Prosecutors must ensure that the letter contains an adequate explanation for the reasons for the decision as failure to provide sufficient information is likely to result in the judge requiring the parties to attend court to explain in more detail.
Where the postal procedure is not used, advance notice in writing should still be given to the Crown Court of the intention to offer no evidence.
The decision whether to offer no evidence is ultimately for the prosecution. Prosecution counsel’s duties are set out in the Farquharson Guidelines dealt with elsewhere in the Legal Guidance. Where the postal procedure is not used, counsel should explain the reasons for the decision to the judge. The judge is entitled to express their views as to the correctness of the course. Where the judge is critical of the decision counsel must reconsider the decision and should take further instructions before proceeding further (R v Renshaw  Crim LR 811). However, the final decision is that of the CPS, through counsel, not the judge’s.
Where a jury has been sworn, it will be asked to return a formal verdict of not guilty. If the jury has not been sworn, the judge will enter the not guilty verdict under section 17 Criminal Justice Act 1967. This concludes the proceedings and fresh proceedings cannot be started as the verdict has the same effect as if the defendant had been tried and acquitted.
For the roles and duties of prosecution counsel and the trial judge where, during the course of the prosecution case, the prosecution decide that they can no longer seek a conviction on the evidence see R v Grafton (1993) 96 Cr. App. R. 156.
If proceedings are abandoned in the Crown Court on public interest grounds following acceptable pleas to other counts or indictments, or if an indictment or counts have been left on the file, the police should be informed. As above, prosecutors should take care to consider the impact of offering no evidence rather than discontinuing proceedings. Of particular importance is that it also affects the victim's position under the Victims' Right to Review scheme.
Leaving an Indictment or Counts to 'Lie on the File'
In the Crown Court the judge has the power to order that entire indictments or some counts on an indictment are ordered to 'lie on the file'. There is no verdict, so the proceedings are not formally terminated. There can be no further proceedings against the defendant on those matters, without the leave of the Crown Court or the Court of Appeal.
The consent of the judge is required to leave an indictment or counts to lie on the file. In practice, the judge usually consents, provided that the defence agrees.
The procedure is particularly useful when:
- the defendant has pleaded guilty or has been convicted of other counts in the same indictment; or
- the defendant has pleaded guilty or has been convicted on counts on another indictment; and
- convictions for the remaining offences would have no significant impact on the sentence; and
- it is no longer in the public interest to proceed on the remaining matters.
Rape counts linked to murder
Very careful consideration is required before requesting that rape counts related to a murder are ordered to lie on the file. It can be difficult for some victims' families to understand decisions not to proceed with rape counts in such circumstances. See the chapter on “Rape counts linked to Murder left to lie on file” elsewhere in the Legal Guidance.
The prosecutor should follow the CPS guidance on Rape and Sexual Offences concerning consultation with the victim's family and the factors to consider, before making an application to request an order from the judge.
Motion to Quash an Indictment
This procedure is available only in the Crown Court. The application is usually made by the defence. The procedure can be used by the prosecution to abandon (in order to re-commence) proceedings when the indictment is defective and it is not possible to cure the defect by amendment.
This is not an acquittal. To revive the proceedings, fresh proceedings have to be started in the magistrates' court, or by obtaining a voluntary bill of indictment.
Nolle Prosequi - Defence or Prosecution application
At any stage after the indictment has been signed and before a Crown Court judgment, the Attorney General can enter a nolle prosequi. It is most often used in cases where the defendant is physically or mentally unfit to be produced at court and the defendant's incapacity is likely to be permanent.
A nolle prosequi stops the case and is an indefinite adjournment not an acquittal. This terminates the proceedings, but it does not operate as a bar or discharge or an acquittal on the merits (so the defendant can be indicted again).
The power is not subject to any control by the courts. The Attorney General is answerable to Parliament for the exercise of the power but takes the decision independently of Government as a guardian of the public interest.
In practice the power is used sparingly, usually to prevent oppression (for example because the defendant is seriously ill). Traditionally it has also been used to protect a person to whom an undertaking or immunity has been given. It therefore mirrors the Attorney's power to grant immunity.
A nolle prosequi is most likely to be requested by the defence but there are situations in which it is perfectly proper for an application to be made by the prosecution rather than use one of the other methods of termination.
If the prosecutor becomes aware that the defence intend to make an application to the Attorney General they should invite the defence to defer it and provide the prosecution with any relevant additional material so that the case can be reviewed. Where medical reports are known to exist, the defence should be asked to provide them for consideration. Such information will often be known only to the defence and may not have been available to the prosecution at the time of earlier reviews.
When the Attorney receives an application from the defence the Attorney General's Office (AGO) will write to the Chief Crown Prosecutor (CCP) or Deputy Chief Crown Prosecutor (DCCP) of the relevant CPS Area setting out the reasons given by the defence. AGO will also seek the observations of the CCP/DCCP and the prosecution papers (or a detailed outline of the case).
In a number of cases the CCP/DCCP may agree with the defence and this will lead to the termination of the case without the need for a nolle prosequi.
Where this is not the case the CCP/DCCP should write to AGO setting out the reasons why a nolle prosequi is not appropriate and sending the material that supports this view.
It is important that the CCP/DCCP does this quickly or sets out a strict timetable for the CPS to consider the case further, for example, following a further medical report.
The CCP/DCCP should allow the Attorney sufficient time to consider the application before the next hearing. If necessary, make an application for an adjournment.
Where a defendant has applied in person the CPS should provide AGO with the details of any representatives the defendant may have so that AGO may contact them if necessary.
A prosecutor may quite properly apply to the AG for a nolle prosequi. This would be the correct approach where the prosecutor has considered terminating the proceedings but:
- does not wish termination to lead to an acquittal; or
- there is no other procedure available for technical or legal reasons (for instance, if the defendant cannot come to court to be arraigned after the indictment has been preferred).
When considering this option the prosecutor should consult their Chief Crown Prosecutor or Deputy Chief Crown Prosecutor (CCP/DCCP). If approved by the CCP/DCCP the prosecutor should initially telephone the Deputy Director of Criminal Law at the Attorney General's Office to discuss the case. (Click here for contact details for AGO).
See the Legal Guidance on Consents to Prosecute the procedures and forms for which may be adapted when seeking a nolle prosequi from the Attorney General.
Death of a Defendant
In magistrates' courts the individual court should be contacted to see what their preference is. The usual practice is that upon provision of the proof of the death the clerk to the justices enters on the register that the defendant has died. That terminates the proceedings.
In the Crown Court formal evidence of death should be given and this can be done through a police officer who identifies the dead body of the defendant as the same person named in the relevant indictment. However in practice this is rare and a certified copy of a death certificate is usually sufficient.
Prosecutors should inform the court of a defendant’s death and produce a certified copy of his death certificate. The court should be invited to mark the indictment accordingly and an example of the format can be found in Archbold.
Annex A: Table of Methods of Terminating cases
MC and CC
Sections 23 and 23A Prosecution of Offences Act 1985
MC: Before the case is sent or the court begins to hear evidence in a summary trial.
CC: After the case is sent but before the indictment is preferred.
Charges can be re-instituted
If the case is discontinued pending receipt of further evidence with a view to re-instating the charge once it is received, it is good practice to inform D of this fact.
Common law/case law which acknowledges the practice
Any stage although the court is unlikely to agree to a withdrawal once they have started hear evidence
Charges can be re-instituted.
Can only be done in court and requires the leave of the court. If it is anticipated that the charges will later be re-instituted, this should be made clear.
MC and CC
MC: Any stage until the evidence begins to be heard.
CC: Once D has been arraigned, then at any stage until evidence begins to be heard. It may be done by post if the court and defence agree.
Will usually be final and a bar to re-commencing proceedings. See s17 CJA 1967 and s27 MCA 1980. For summary offences (not covered by s27) the court may still stay proceedings as an abuse.
Consider the impact on the victim who will have limited redress under VRR.
After D has pleaded not guilty to the charge in question but guilty to other charges.
May be revived but only with consent of the Crown Court or the Court of Appeal.
This is appropriate where there is sufficient evidence to prove the offence but the defendant has entered acceptable pleas to other offences.
The quashed indictment is a nullity so has no effect on proceeding on the same offences once there is a valid indictment.
Any time after the indictment is preferred
Not a bar to re-indictment
Only the Attorney-General can do this but prosecution and defence can both seek a direction from the A-G
NOTICE OF PROSECUTION'S INTENTION TO OFFER NO EVIDENCE IN THE ABSENCE OF THE PARTIES
CROWN COURT INDICTMENT NO:
I confirm that the prosecution proposes to offer no evidence against this defendant who is currently on bail [in custody] Delete whichever is not appropriate awaiting trial. The reason for this course of action is that state reason
Don't forget to put in a full stop at the end of the reason
The defendant has been arraigned on this indictment and it is therefore possible to dispose of the case without the need for him to attend a further court hearing, or for the parties to be represented.
You have already indicated that you do not require a full hearing and are content for the matter to be dealt with in the absence of the parties, subject to the agreement of the trial judge. I am therefore copying this letter to the court to confirm this proposed course of action.
Upon receiving a copy of this letter, the court will seek the consent of a judge to this method of proceeding. If the judge agrees, the case will be listed very shortly afterwards "For mention - parties not required to attend". At the hearing a formal verdict of not guilty under Section 17 of the Criminal Justice Act 1967 will be recorded by the court clerk following a pronouncement in open court by the trial judge.
The next paragraph is optional. If it is not required, please delete it.
Don't forget to take the brackets out.[When announcing the acquittal, the judge will order the defendant's discharge and the formal order will be sent to the prison to secure the defendant's release, assuming that he is not in custody on other matters.]
Orders for costs from central funds and/or to remit or order the repayment of any sum due or paid under a Legal Aid Contribution Order may be made in the absence of the parties at the hearing. If you wish to apply for such an order you should notify the court immediately. If the court indicates that it does not propose to make the order you seek, you should inform the court immediately if you wish to pursue the application, as this will necessitate a full court hearing. Costs orders against the parties, or wasted costs orders, cannot be made in the absence of the parties and will also require a full court hearing.
The court will notify you of the proposed date of hearing in the usual way and will also confirm the result in writing.
This procedure is designed to avoid unnecessary costs and inconvenience which would be incurred if a formal hearing were to take place. However the defendant has an absolute right to such a hearing and if you wish to avail yourself of this right you should notify the court immediately upon receipt of this letter.
The next paragraph is optional, it should be deleted if necessary.
Don't forget to take the brackets off if you use it.
[This letter has been copied to the solicitors acting for the co-defendants(s).]