430 magistrates courts in England and Wales. Local courts which most towns will have. Magistrates can be either qualified district judge of unqualified lay. Magistrates are assisted by qualified Clerk in court
Try all summary cases Can try some triable eitherway offences where they feel they have enough power to do so. Deal with the first hearing of all indictable offences Deal with issues of warrants and bail applications Try cases in their youth court for offenders 10-17
Enforcing council tax. Issuing entry warrants to gas and electric companies. Family cases, i.e. issue protection orders. Welfare of children under Children’s Act 1989 Hearing appeals for refusal of licence to sell alcohol.
These are generally considered the least serious criminal cases. These offences out number other types Offences are divided into five categories. One = least serious five = most. Criminal justice Act 1991 states Level one offences maximum of £200 and Level Five £5000. Magistrates do have power to issue £20,000 for businesses under environmental and health Law Criminal Justice Act 2003 states maximum sentence of 15 months, previously 6 months. The case starts with the clerk asking defendant to confirm their name and address and whether they plead guilty or not guilty. 90 % of cases plead guilty and are sentenced
Crown prosecutor for CPS will give the facts of the case. Defendant is asked if he agrees with the basic facts. If not the magistrates must establish the facts Defendants past record is given to the court. Other details like defendant’s back ground and financial position are given to the court Relevant reports will be considered, i.e. from probation service. Defendant or his representative will then present any mitigation. Magistrate decide sentence.
Both sides must produce evidence. Burden of proof is on prosecution so they go first. Prosecution will then call their witnesses to give evidence. The defence then get a chance to cross examine the witnesses. At the end of the prosecution case the defence can submit to the court that there is no case to answer. For most cases the case will proceed. Now comes the defence case where usually the defendant will give evidence. The CJPO Act 1994 says that where the defendant stays silent, the magistrates may draw their own conclusions. If defendant gives evidence then the prosecution will have a chance to cross examine. The defence can call any witnesses for their case. Defence will then have the right to make a speech to convince the magistrate that the defendant is not guilty. If magistrate decides defendant is guilty then they will consider past record and reports before sentencing. If magistrates’ decide not guilty then case is dismissed and defendant is free to go
If defendant pleads guilty the case is dealt with in the same way as a summary offence. If the Magistrates’ feel like their sentencing powers aren’t enough then they can decide the defendant goes to the Crown for sentencing.
The Magistrates must decide where the case goes. Up to the Crown or stays in Magistrates. Case stays if Magistrates’ and defendant decide it should. There will now take place a trial similar to Summary offence procedure.
A small time shop lifter. Violent drunk. Racist killer. Summary offence Triable eitherway Indictable offenceMatch the offender with the offence category.
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