How fast are average criminal trials?

Knowing how quickly criminal trials move is essential for everyone, from regular folks to legal experts and decision-makers. In the UK, the time for criminal trials can differ based on many things, like how complicated the case is, which court handles it, and how many issues are already waiting. Let’s explore seven key points that give us a general idea of how fast average criminal trials go in the UK.

Starting Point

The legal process in the UK is typically initiated in the Magistrates’ court for every criminal case. When someone faces an accusation of breaking the law, their case kicks off in this court. For more severe crimes, the proceedings advance to the Crown Court, a higher judicial level. It becomes crucial to hire a criminal law specialist when navigating legal matters.

They know a lot about criminal law. They can assist you in understanding legal jargon and navigating the court process.

Median Duration

The middle time takes from when a case is received until it’s finished. 

On average, it takes about 163 days from filing a claim to its completion in the Crown Court. The duration can vary based on the specific details of each case.

From Offence to Completion

For defendants at the Crown Court, the time from the offence to the trial ending was increased to 398 days in the first quarter of 2023.

If someone is accused of a crime and their case goes to the Crown Court, it takes around 398 days. This is from when the crime occurred until the trial concludes.

Pre-Court and At-Court Phases

The time from the offence to the first court appearance rose to 140 days. 

Before a case goes to court, it is about 140 days from the crime to the first court appearance. For patients set for trial where the accused pleads not guilty, the average time for the actual problem is about one hour.

Waiting Times

The average wait for defendants in ‘for trial’ cases with a not guilty plea went down to 38.0 weeks in the first quarter of 2023.

If someone pleads not guilty and is waiting for their trial, the average wait time has slightly decreased to about 38 weeks.


Generally, the time it takes for a case to be completed has increased by 6% at the Magistrates’ Court and 8% at the Crown Court compared to previous times.

Historical Comparison

The current average time from the offence to completion is 398 days. 

Compared to the pre-COVID period, this represents a significant improvement over 254 days in Q1 of 2020. Compared to before the pandemic, there is an apparent increase in the period between crime and case resolution.


The speed of criminal trials in the UK was influenced by various things, especially the COVID-19 pandemic. Waiting times for trial cases have slightly decreased. The overall time from offence to completion has increased compared to before the pandemic. The justice system must tackle these delays to ensure justice happens for everyone involved. Hiring a criminal law specialist can help you navigate these complexities, providing a smoother and more efficient process.