(Dis)Advantages of Magistrates in the Criminal Justice System

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  • Created by: Emily
  • Created on: 05-05-11 20:32

The advantages of the use of magistrates

Cost

Unpaid apart from their expenses, so the large majority of criminal cases are tried without a Judge, whose salary is over £90,000 each. The annual saving is estimated to be in the region it £100 million, taking into account the cost of the legal adviser. 

Local knowledge

This is invaluable when it comes to understanding where an offence took place, which is difficult in Crown Court hearings. Sentencing can take into account local problems which can be helped by sensitive sentencing.

Under the Drugs Act 2005 police can drugs test those charged for trigger offences. When put into effect as a pilot scheme in several areas where high levels of drug-related crime existed, those who tested positive had to attend a compulsory drug assessment to help them into treatment and support. The scheme could be backed up by appropriate sentencing for those charged and convicted.

The approach of using local knowledge in Paul v DPP the court dealt with a kerb crawler, and the magistrates knew that this was a problem locally so D was convicted.

Availability of judges

If magistrates were replaced with judges then over 1000 judges would have to be appointed, which would require a new approach to the appointment of judges as the present pool of candidates would not be…

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