All Criminal Prosecutions begin in the Magistrates Court. Some cases stay in the Magistrates Court (Summary Cases) because only the Magistrates can deal with them. Commonly these are motoring cases and minor assault cases.
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What is the Magistrates Court?
All Criminal Prosecutions begin in the Magistrates Court. Some cases stay in the Magistrates Court (Summary Cases) because only the Magistrates can deal with them. Commonly these are motoring cases and minor assault cases. You cannot take these cases to a Crown Court to be dealt with by a Judge and /or Jury, such cases must stay in the Magistrates Court. Some offences are started by Summons, e.g. Motoring Offences and you will receive a Summons which requires that you attend the Magistrates Court on a specific date when you can either plead guilty or not guilty to the offence with which you have been charged or summonsed.
In some such cases you may be able to plead guilty or not guilty by post. Instructions as to whether or not you can do so will be with the documents you received from the Court. If you plead not guilty in person or by post the case will be adjourned for a trial in the Magistrates Court. You may plead guilty and your case may well be dealt with on that day. If in doubt then contact Canter Levin and Berg. Our Solicitors are in The Magistrates Court every day dealing with people with a problem just like yours. All Magistrates Courts have a Duty Solicitor available to offer free advice and representation but very often the Duty Solicitor will not deal with Summary only offences and to be safe or if in doubt contact Canter Levin and Berg.
Either Way Offences
The second type of case to be dealt with in the Magistrates Court are called ‘Either Way Offences’. Examples of such offences are theft and certain types of assault. The procedure is that the Prosecutor and Defence Solicitor will offer an opinion to the Magistrates as to whether the case can be dealt with by the Magistrates. If the Prosecutor believes that the case should only be dealt with by the Crown Court, the Magistrates will often agree however if the Magistrates choose to deal with your case then you, if pleading not guilty, can choose to have the case decided by a Crown Court Judge and Jury. This is an important decision and you need to take legal advice.
Failing to take legal advice could cost you dearly and you may well regret that decision for the rest of your life!
If you plead guilty to an ‘Either Way Offence’ the Magistrates may deal with your case there and then or adjourn your case for more information about you or they may send your case to a Crown Court Judge if they believe that their powers of punishment are insufficient.
The third type of case starting out in the Magistrates Court are called ‘Indictable Only Offences‘. These cases are the most serious criminal matters and can only be dealt with by the Crown Court whether you intend to plead guilty or not guilty. Examples of this type of case are murder, manslaughter and most sexual offences. All individuals charged with murder appear before the Magistrates Court (often in custody) before being committed (sent) to the Crown Court for hearing.