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Every criminal case begins in the Magistrates Court. The Magistrates from the local community or a District Judge listen to the case. For more minor cases you’ll receive a summons or a police charge to appear at this court. They refer more serious matters to the Crown Court as they have limited powers of sentence.
Our solicitors can provide you with the knowledge and expertise to advise you on how to best present your case to receive the lightest outcome possible.
Important things to consider:
- It’s wise to seek professional representation for court as early as possible.
- You can appeal against a decision made in the Magistrates Court.
- The Magistrates Court does not always have powerful enough sentences for the crimes a person has committed so the magistrates can send them to the Crown Court.
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The Court handles offences known as ‘summary offences’. Examples include motoring offences, minor criminal damage and drunk and disorderly behaviour.
However, they also deal with more serious offences, known as ‘either way offences’, which can be hard in the Magistrates or the Crown Court. This includes burglary and drug offences. Finally, the Magistrates Court pass on very serious crimes to the Crown Court because they do not have powerful enough sentences. This includes murder, rape or robbery.
If the individual is facing a ‘summary only offence’ they will plead guilty or not guilty. If they plead not guilty the magistrates can adjourn the trial whereas pleading guilty results in a sentence on the same day. However, this changes if the individual is’ facing either way offences’. If they plead guilty the court will listen to the prosecution and the defence lawyers and make a decision on whether their sentencing powers are adequate. If they’re not they will refer the case to the Crown Court.
The trial begins with the prosecution summarising the case against the defendant and calling their witnesses to make statements. The defence lawyer will put forward the defendant’s case. The defendant will give evidence as well as other witnesses. The prosecution and defence team sum up the discussions in a closing speech. The judge will then decide on their verdict.
A Court can give different punishments. For example, they can give an individual a custodial sentence of up to six months in prison for one offence or 12 months for two or more offences. Instead of a prison sentence, a fine of up to £5,000 and a community sentence for unpaid community work could be given.
The individual may be found guilty of an either way offence. The magistrates may decide it should be heard in the Crown Court because their sentencing is not powerful enough. This is called a Committal to the Crown Court for Sentence. They can also be given a custodial or suspended sentence.
Finally, the Magistrates can give an individual an absolute discharge which means they are found not guilty. Additionally, they can be given a conditional discharge where no punishment is given as long as the defendant does not commit another offence during the period of discharge – which can be up to three years.
Our solicitors will assist you in the preparation for your hearing. We can advise you on the strength of evidence against you and what we recommend you should plead based on the sentence you would receive. Moreover, we can help in persuading the court to impose the lightest sentence and outcome they can give based on your offences and character. We can provide you with knowledge of the entire process of Magistrates Court so you know what to expect and you can fully prepare to reduce your stress and worry.
Regardless of whether you are pleading guilty or not guilty we can work with you to understand the charges around you. We will carefully analyse evidence and liaise with any necessary experts.
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“I enjoy trying to help people in difficult circumstances. I'm an accredited member of Resolution which are a body of family lawyers who try and deal with disputes in an amicable manner. I have specialised accreditations in matrimonial finances and domestic abuse”.