Role Of The Magistrate Court Report Examples
The magistrate court is the lower court in the English legal system and that is where all criminal proceedings commence. The magistrate’s court issues warrants and they sit in benches of 2 to 7. In most cases, magistrates sit in a bench of 3 or sometimes a District Judge. However, magistrates are supported legally by a qualified Court Clerk who has in-depth technical knowledge of legal matters.
Most magistrate courts handle either-way offences or summary offences in which the defendant in question is going to be found guilty. This includes motoring cases and actual criminal offences, especially those cases in which the defendant pleads guilty. Magistrate courts handle a few civil cases including family proceedings as well as youth cases where persons below 18 are charged before the magistrate courts the moment they turn 18. Magistrate courts can also grant bails or remand a person in custody pending trial.
The magistrate court in English law is below the Crown Court. Therefore, there is a transfer or committal rule that operates in the affairs of magistrate courts. When a case is registered before a magistrate court, there is a full committal where the magistrate court checks to ensure that the evidence is sufficient or not. Where the evidence is sufficient, the magistrate court deals with the case and judges it. In cases where the evidence is not sufficient or where there are difficult questions of law, the magistrate court will have to arrange bail and set a date for the appearance of the accused person to a Crown Court.
There are over 360 magistrate courts in England and Wales. The jurisdictions and procedures are set forth in the Courts Act, 2003. A magistrate court can impose a single sentence of up to 6 months in custody for a single offence and up to 12 months for two or more offences. A magistrate court cannot impose a fine of more than £5,000.
Magistrates are required to pursue justice within the rules of natural justice. The procedure includes an adversarial approach where a person is innocent until s/he is proven guilty. Secondly, the magistrates’ court uses inquisitional approach where a question is asked and probed further for information.
Appeals from the magistrate courts are presented to the Crown Court. However, in cases where the magistrates have questions on a point of law, it can be sent to the high court for interpretation.
Routes of Appeal from Magistrate Court
There are two approaches to appeal from the magistrate courts. The first approach is necessary when there is a mistake in a point of law. In this case, the magistrate court will be referred to a divisional court (Queen’s Bench). This involves the presentation of the point of law in question to the High Court. This is heard by a panel of two or three high court judges who sit and decide on the question relating to the point of law.
The appeal to the Divisional Court can be used by both the accused person and the prosecution albeit with some limits. The defendant (or accused) can use this route as a defence against conviction. However, this cannot be applied against the sentence. The prosecution can also use this route of appeal subject to the fact that it is only used against an acquittal, not a less severe sentencing. This approach can be utilised all the way up to the Supreme Court if the High Court does not find an answer to the question.
The second route, is the right to appeal to the Crown Court against a sentence, conviction or both. The condition for this approach is that the defendant should not have pleaded guilty in the earlier stages of trial. This is done by filling a notice of appeal at least 21 days after the conviction to the magistrate court. This will be further presented to the Crown Court which will in turn inform the appellant of the date of hearing.
Role of Court Officials
There are numerous kinds of workers and professionals that carry out various activities in the court setting. This includes various persons who take up specific roles accepted in the English legal tradition. The following below are going to be analysed and reviewed:
Solicitors: A solicitor is involved in both preparation of cases and advocacy. They take up the commercial contact with clients and deal with the transactions, finances and other things including property matters in order to establish important activities in litigation and other legal matters. The solicitor works hand-in-hand with the barrister to complete cases in higher courts. Solicitors are members of the Law Society.
Barristers: Barristers are traditionally involved in advocacy and they are the ones who take the facts from solicitors and prepare cases and go to court to argue on the basis of the facts and evidence. They are to do things independently in order to prevent emotional errors and other things.
Magistrates: Magistrates are volunteers who are often laypersons and they sit in benches of 2 to 7 to hear cases within a given local jurisdiction. Magistrates are to deal with the cases relating to criminal offences and family issues and matters in the civil division.
Ushers: The fundamental role of a court usher is to escort a participant in court. The court usher also spends a considerable volume of time moving documents about and ensuring that the procedures are going on appropriately. The court usher also ensures that a court participant is properly positioned and properly hydrated throughout the court session. Also, court ushers are required to moderate in the order of cases in order to allow appropriate cases to be heard at the right time.
Clerk: The court clerk has the duty of maintaining court documents and carrying out various administrative activities and processes to ensure that the case and its hearing proceeds appropriately. The court clerk has the duty of ensuring that the oaths of the participants in court are properly administered. In lower courts, a court clerk directs the magistrates and lay persons on how to carry out their activities.
Judges: The judge has the role of interpreting and upholding the law. He applies the law to important issues and acts as a referee in civil disputes.
Jury: A jury is a selection of lay members of the society to decide on the facts of a case, but not the legal elements. They are used in the Crown Courts and in some cases of the High Court. They sit as a group, sometimes 12 people and they decide on the basis of the facts presented by the parties.
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