BBC get the law wrong – when is someone ‘formally charged’?

BBC get the law wrong – when is someone ‘formally charged’?

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It’s a routine story – on 8th December 2015 the BBC reported that a police officer “has been charged with rape“. It is not clear when this was, but presumably it was in the last few days.

So far, so good. They then said that the officer “is due to appear at Dudley Magistrates Court on Wednesday where he will be formally charged“.

What does ‘formally charged’ mean? I don’t know. Wednesday will be the first appearance. As rape is indictable only, the case will be sent straight to the Crown Court.

It will be a short, but formal, hearing. The officer will be identified and that’s about it. He has already been charged (as the first line of the story indicated), there is no separate process where he will be ‘formally charged’.

 

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Dan is a barrister at 2 Dr. Johnson’s Buildings practising in crime.

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