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CRIME & PUNISHMENT

Text for dictation:

The legal process in Britain can be illustrated by examining the crime of shoplifting. Every working day, small shops and large department stores have to protect themselves against this form of theft. Some stores display signs saying "WE ALWAYS PROSECUTE THIEVES", though their managers may have the option of warning shoplifters without reporting them to the police.

If a store manager decides to take a shoplifter to court, the legal process can be both time-consuming and expensive. The lawyer for the prosecution has to prove that the goods were deliberately taken and unpaid for. The lawyer for the defence may argue that the defendant was forgetful or suffering from mental illness. As evidence of non-payment, the manager may have to produce a till roll showing what purchases were made around the time of the alleged crime.

It is the task of the twelve members of the jury to listen to the evidence on both sides and to the judge's summing up. They then retire to a separate room where they have to try to reach a verdict.

If the defendant is found "not guilty", he or she is then acquitted. If a "guilty" verdict is returned, the judge will then pass sentence. The sentence for shoplifting may range from a fine or a suspended sentence for a first offence to a period of imprisonment for a persistent offender.