This is a sentence in an article about law and courts:

the culprit argue the Crown couldn't prove that...

What is the meaning of Crown in this sentence? I guess it's the chief of court, but I'm not sure.

  • 1
    The government, symbolically represented by the Queen (Crown)? – Kris May 15 '12 at 10:43
  • What research have you done, reza? Have you searched on Google for crown in the court? I think that should answer your question fully. – Matt E. Эллен May 15 '12 at 10:45

No, it is not really the chief of court.

The Crown is the monarch, though the monarch never appears in person. Instead, the UK has the Crown Prosecution Service who prosecute on behalf of the Crown, who in effect represents the state. The term is used only for serious crimes that are tried in a Crown Court before a jury.

The history, as far as I know, is that only a monarch (the Crown)or his representative could issue a death sentence (capital punishment), and traditionally this could take place only in the capital city.

  • The analogy in American law would be, roughly, "the people" -- the Plaintiff in criminal cases. – David Schwartz May 15 '12 at 11:20

In Canada or the UK (and probably other commomwealth countries) the word Crown in court refers to the state or the government, the folks who are prosecuting you in a criminal case. The Crown is represented by a Crown Attorney, and in some conversations it may be this person who's being referred to with the word, while in others it will be the state.

"The Crown couldn't prove that" means that the point in question couldn't be proven against the accused by the entire side (the lawyers, witnesses for the Crown etc) that is arguing for conviction. (Technically, witnessses don't care if you're convicted or not and are just coming forward to tell the truth. In practice, each is either a Crown witness or a defense witness, and generally believe you to be guilty or innocent and want you convicted or acquitted.) The counterpart might be "the defense proved that" some other statement was true. Of course, the burden of proof is not on the defense; the Crown has to prove an accused is guilty; defense does not need to prove innocence.

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    In the U.S. we will often use "The People vs." or "The State of Alabama vs." in the same manner. I think this is referred to as metonymy where the thing represents a greater whole. For example, we use "The White House" to mean the Presidency of the U.S. – John Dahle May 15 '12 at 13:33
  • "The prosecution" is probably the best equivalent in the US. – ohmi May 15 '12 at 18:32

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