Lay magistrates advantages and disadvantages

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  • Lay Magistrates Advantages and Disadvantages
    • cost savings
      • Magistrates claim £500 per year compared to a salary in excess of £100,000 for a district judge.
      • Magistrates court cost around £1500 compared to £13500 in the crown court
    • public confidence
      • the public have trust and confidence in Magistrates as they are not professional members of the criminal justice system
    • local knowledge
      • As magistrates must come from the local community, they can use their local knowledge when dealing with Defendants
    • Magistrates are fair
      • Lay magistrates sitting as a bench of 3 are less likely to make mistakes of fact.
      • Magistrates receive training so are seen to be more Efficient than a jury
    • Unrepresentative of society
      • Often described as 'middle aged', middle class and middle minded. Only 4% of magistrates are under the age of 40 and 33% are over the age of 60.
    • Prosecution minded
      • the acquittal rate in the magistrates court is 20% of those Defendants who plead not guilty.
        • By comparison lay juries in the Crown court acquit around=d 60% of defendants.
    • Inefficent
      • Magistrates work very slowly compared to professionals such as district judges. the actual cost of running the Magistrate court rises simply because each case takes longer to hear.
        • E.g -in legal fees and court wages.
    • Bias towards police
      • Magistrates become 'case hardened' and prefer the evidence of the police, who they come to know rather than the Defendant.

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