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  1. District Court

The District Court is a court of local and limited jurisdiction comprising a President and 63 District Judges. The country is divided geographically into the Dublin Metropolitan District and 23 provincial Districts. The particular District Court in which a criminal case is heard depends on the location where the offence was committed or where the defendant resides or carries on business or was arrested. 

 

When the District Court hears a criminal case, the judge sits without a jury. The District Judge decides the issues of fact and whether to convict. He or she also determines the sentence.

 

The District Court deals with sentencing in three types of criminal case.

 

1.         Summary offences

These are offences which may be tried by a judge sitting without a jury. Under Article 38 of the Constitution, only minor offences may be tried in this way. Where an offence is tried summarily, the District Judge decides whether to acquit or convict as well as deciding the appropriate sentence to impose.


2.         Indictable offences tried summarily

These are offences which may be tried either with or without a jury. Where the accused and the Director of Public Prosecutions agree to have the offence tried without a jury and the District Judge is of the opinion that on the facts of the case, a minor offence is at issue, the District Court may try these offences also.

 

3.         Indictable offences

In the case of most offences which would have to be tried by a judge sitting with a jury, the District Court may impose sentence where the accused pleads guilty provided that the Director of Public Prosecutions consents and the judge accepts the guilty plea. Otherwise, the accused is sent forward to the Circuit Court on his signed plea of guilty for sentencing.


The District Court has a limit on the sentence it may impose in respect of a single criminal charge of 12 months imprisonment.

 

The links below will take you to the database of District Court cases and sentences compiled by I.S.I.S. to date. These do not constitute a complete record of sentences handed down for the period covered.