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Criminal Proceedings etc. (Reform) (Scotland) Act 2007

Section 14: Proceedings in absence of accused

83.This section amends sections 141, 145A and 150 of the 1995 Act, and inserts a new section 150A into that Act. The purpose is to extend the present provisions for proceedings at diets where the accused fails to appear. The section expands on the current provisions dealing with trials in absence found in section 150(5) of the 1995 Act. The amendments are minor and are consequential to the substantive change in relation to proceedings in absence against the accused.

84.Subsections (1) & (2) are consequential amendments upon subsection (3).

85.Subsection (3)(a) inserts a new subsection (3C) into section 150. It deals with the situation at an intermediate diet where the accused fails to appear and the court grants a warrant to apprehend the accused. In those circumstances the effect of section 150(3A) has the effect of discharging the trial diet unless the court grants an order to differing effect under section 150(3B). Section 150(3C) is added to confirm that an order under section 150(3B) (i.e. an order not to discharge the trial diet where the accused has failed to appear and a warrant to apprehend the accused has been granted) may be made for the purpose of having a trial in absence or for any other purpose. An order under section 150(3C) can be made on the application of the prosecutor or of the court’s own accord.

86.Subsections (5) to (7) of section 150, which outline the circumstances in which proceedings can currently take place in the absence of an accused in summary cases, are repealed and replaced by section 150A.

Subsection (4) - new section 150A of the 1995 Act

87.Subsections (1) to (3) of the new section 150A allow for a court to hear any diet, except a diet of first calling, in the absence of the accused. In most instances this will be on the motion of the prosecutor; however, where the accused is absent from a diet set for sentencing, for example, where the case has been adjourned for a social enquiry report following conviction of the accused, the court may proceed to pass sentence of its own accord. Two requirements are imposed by new section 150A. These are: firstly, the court must be satisfied that the accused was duly cited to the hearing or that s/he received intimation of the hearing; and, secondly, that it is in the interests of justice to proceed in the accused’s absence. This includes leading evidence and returning a verdict.

88.Subsections (4) to (7) of new section 150A provide that the court may allow any solicitor acting for the accused to continue to act if the court is satisfied that the solicitor has authority to act. The court may appoint a solicitor to act on behalf of the accused if it considers it to be in the interests of justice to do so. Subsection (8) of new section 150A provides for exceptions to these provisions. Subsection (10) of the new section 150A provides that the court may not impose a custodial sentence in the absence of the accused. Nor will the court be able to impose a sentence on the accused which requires the accused’s consent (e.g. probation and community service orders).

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