It would be wrong to say only trivial offences are heard in magistrates’ courts since any allegation of crime can have serious consequences, though magistrates have jurisdiction of cases which would not attract as serious a sentence as could be imposed in relation to offences that can be heard in the Crown Court. A panel of 3 magistrates or one district judge will listen to both the prosecution and the defence’s version of events before coming to a guilty or not guilty verdict.
The cases that are called ‘summary only’ offences can only be dealt with in the magistrates’ court as they attract sentences of less than six months. There are other types of cases that are triable ‘either way’ which can be heard in either the magistrates’ court or the Crown Court. Every case, be it murder or dropping litter starts in the magistrates’ court. If the offence is one that can be heard in either the magistrates’ court or the Crown Court, the magistrates must go on to decide whether they can retain jurisdiction of the matter. They will consider issues such as likely sentence alongside whether there are any reasons of factual, procedural or legal complexity which render the matter unsuitable for summary trial and will decide whether the case can remain in magistrates’ court or whether it ought to be sent to the Crown Court.
If the magistrates find the defendant guilty, sentences can include:
- Community order
- Discharge/ conditional discharge
- Suspended sentence
- Custodial sentence up to a maximum of 6 months.
However, having heard the evidence, it is possible for the magistrates to commit the case to the Crown Court for sentencing if they feel that they do not have sufficient sentencing powers in light of the facts of the case.
Our specialist solicitors have a vast amount of experience in representing individuals in the magistrates’ court. We understand how daunting and stressful the whole court process can be. We will therefore seek to put your concerns at bay by explaining the court proceedings and providing you with a detailed understanding of your case and the possible defences available to you.
We will have your best interests as our main priority throughout the proceedings from your initial instructions to the end of trial. We will seek to provide you with a defence to achieve the best possible outcome.
Why use a solicitor?
- A solicitor will be able to prepare you on what to expect at court.
- They have the legal expertise to defend your case.
- They will be able to represent you in court.
Why Watson Woodhouse?
- Our specialist solicitors have a vast amount of experience in dealing with cases in the Crown Court
- We know the court process inside out.
- We will seek to provide you with a defence to achieve the best possible result.