Magistrates

Notes on the role, selection, advantages and disadvantages of Magistrates

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Role of Magistrates

Role of Magistrates

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  • Sit in benches of 3 in Magistrates Court
  • Deal with 97% of all criminal cases in England
  • Hear preliminary hearings in the remaining 3% of cases
  • Hear around 1 million cases a year
  • Hear applications for bail
  • Issue search and arrest warrants
  • Hear summary and some triable either way offences
  • Hear applications for legal aid
  • Also sit in Youth Court and hear most youth offences
  • Also sit in Crown Court on appeal, on a bench headed by a Judge
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Selection of Magistrates

Selection of Magistrates

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Selection of Magistrates

  • Must be aged 18-65
  • Commit to sit 26 half days a year, but this could be reduced to 24
  • Have no serious criminal convictions
  • Not be an undischarged bankrupt
  • Not be a member of the armed forces or legally qualified
  • Must live or work within or near the local justice area they are appointed to
  • Must posess the 'six qualities' (Good Character, Understanding and Communication, Social Awareness, Maturity and Sound Temperament, Sound Judgement, Commitment and Reliability)
  • Be able to work in a team
  • Posess the required 'judicial' qualities
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Advantages of Magistrates

Advantages of Magistrates

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Advantages of Magistrates

  • Save around £100 million pounds a year
  • Have knowledge of the local area
  • There aren't enough Judges to replace Magistrates
  • Public are confident in the public role in the legal system
  • The benches of three provide a more balanced view
  • Provide a wider cross-section of society than Judges do
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Disadvantages of Magistrates

Disadvantages of Magistrates

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Disadvantages of Magistrates

They are not representative of society as people with low income are encouraged to not apply as they can't claim money for time off work

Also, only 5% of Magistrates are under 40, meaning Magistrates are mainly made up of middle aged people

Sentencing can be inconsistent since Magistrates recieve little training on sentencing

The public are more confident in the Judge and Jury system

Magistrates can become case hardened since they hear similar offences a lot of the time

It can look like the Legal Advisors make the decisions as Magistrates rely on them heavily for legal advice

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Comments

Sasha

handy!

Sasha

handy!

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