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Lay Magistrates
Regulated under Criminal Justice Act 2003 and Courts
Act 2003
Over 28,000
No legal qualifications needed
Must live locally
Unpaid, though receive allowances for travel etc.

Aged 1865
Not bankrupt
Not in the armed forces or police
No disability where cannot perform duties
Not a close relative…

Page 2

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LAC conduct interviews, usually more than one to
decide if the applicant is suitable.
Appointed nationally rather than locally
Serious vetting
Process is very confidential
LAC's consider personal suitability and the need to
ensure the bench reflects the community it serves.
LAC's make recommendations to Minister
s70 CJA 2003 ­…

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Role and Powers
Should sit for at least 26 half days every year.
Should try to be available for 35 half days every year.
Should be prepared to sit for a whole day if needed.

Composition of the Bench
Usually three on the bench
Single lay magistrate can sit…

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1) Sentencing ­ include the imposition of custodial
sentences, fines and community sentences. NOTE that the
combined effect of s154 Criminal Justice Act2003 and
Magistrates Courts' Act 1980 is that the maximum
sentence is imprisonment/fine is 12 months and £5,000.
Must consult Magistrates' Court sentencing guidelines.
2) Bail ­ applications…

Page 5

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Class ­ `not a true reflection'. Mostly from `professional
and managerial ranks'. Mainly middle class.
Age ­ 78% over 50
Political ­ 2003 34.4% Conservative, 25.5% Labour and
13.1% Lib Dem.

Advantages of Magistrates
Local Knowledge ­ will know of problems in their local
Democratic ­ they are the…

Page 6

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Inconsistent ­ 2006 Home Office Report shows the
northeast gave more lenient sentencing e.g. 20% of
burglary offenders sentenced to immediate custody in
Teeside, 41% in Birmingham. However only 4%
receive a prison sentence, so it needs to be seen in
Clerk Reliance ­ does not prevent inconsistencies




clear and very easy to understand

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