Interplay of power - Prosecution vs Defence

Essay by SofUniversity, Bachelor'sA-, September 2006

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This report explores the flaw of our adversarial system of criminal trial in its unequal division of power between the prosecution and defence in the courts. It examines this issue through three main themes. In the first theme it will explore the procedural inequalities that are inherent in the pre-trial and trial processes. Secondly it will demonstrate the psychological impact that the spatial layout of the courtroom has in terms of disadvantaging the defence. It will then explore the affect of the close relationship between magistrates and prosecution on their likelihood of success in courts. The central argument will be that the balance of advantage lies predominately with the prosecution in criminal trials

Procedural inequalities

Preparation of evidence for trial

In collecting evidence for trial, the advantage lies with the crown prosecutors because they have superior facilities and public funding allowing them to come across a breadth of evidence .

Only the prosecution has official access to information such as police records which include information on convictions that any of the defence witnesses may have had which may be used by the prosecution to discredit the character of a defence witness. They also have access to documentary evidence such as account books which are useful for cases dealing with financial fraud. Defence team being a private enterprise, have unequal access to evidence since they do not have forensic laboratories and teams of experts at their disposal as does the prosecution.


When it comes to procedural power over witnesses, yet another imbalance is revealed between the prosecution and defence. For both sides to advocate their case equally well they need to have reliable witnesses. Prosecution is unlikely to have trouble in convincing witnesses such as police to give evidence in court. However constable Charlesworth who is a police prosecutor at...