If you have been charged or summoned with a criminal offence, we can help you navigate the complex legal system and ensure that your rights are protected. We have a team of experienced criminal defence solicitors who are familiar with the Magistrates' Court's processes and can provide you with the best possible representation. Call us today on 0161 344 2244 to discuss your case with one of our legal experts.
Who can represent you at the Magistrates’ Court?
If you have been charged with a criminal offence, you will have to attend the Magistrates’ Court. You may represent yourself, or you can have a solicitor or a barrister represent you. If you are eligible for legal aid, you may be able to get free representation.
We would always advise you to have legal representation when you at the Magistrates’ Court.
Do you need legal representation at the Magistrates’ Court?
You might wonder whether you need legal representation at the Magistrates’ Court. The answer will depend on your individual case. If you are facing a serious charge, it is advisable to have professional representation. If you are charged with a minor offence, you may be able to represent yourself, but we would always advise be represented by a solicitor.
At Garratts, we will be able to tell you what is likely to happen in court. We will be able to obtain the prosecution case and advice you on the evidence against you. We will discuss your case with you and advise you on your defence. In the event you are guilty of the offence, we would advise you on the likely sentence you will receive for the offence.
What cases are judged at the Magistrates’ Court?
The Magistrates’ Court deals with three categories of offences; summary offences, either-way offences and indictable only offences.
- Summary offences are the least serious offences and can only be tried in the Magistrates’ Court. These include public order, assault, harassment and motoring offences.
- Either-way offences such as theft, drug offences or fraud can be tried either in the Magistrates’ Court or the Crown Court. The decision will depend on the severity of the offence and the sentence that the magistrates believe they have the power to give.
- Indictable only offences are the most serious offences and can only be tried in the Crown Court but will appear in front of the Magistrates' Court initially. These include murder and manslaughter, rape and terrorism offences.
What happens at the Magistrates’ Court’s first hearing?
At the first hearing, the Courts will ask you what your plea is to the offence.
If the offence is a summary-only offence and you plead “not guilty”, the courts will fix your case for a trial at the Magistrates Court.
If the offence is either way offence, the courts will decide whether they have the power to deal with your case or whether it should be sent to the Crown Court. If they do not have sufficient power, then your case will go to the Crown Court.
If the courts decide that they have sufficient power to deal with your case, they will ask you where you wish your case to be heard. If you elect for your case to be heard at Crown Court, your case will be sent to Crown Court. If you elect for your case to be heard at the Magistrates Court, then your case will be heard at the Magistrates Court.
At Garratts, we have a team of experienced solicitors who will guide you and advise you on the best options available at court.
What happens if you plead guilty at the Magistrates’ Court?
If you choose to plead guilty from the start, your case will not go to trial. The Magistrates Court will then consider sentencing you for the offence. The courts will look at the sentencing guidelines for the offence and decide on the appropriate sentence for you.
If the courts feel that they do not have sufficient powers to sentence you, they will send your case to the Crown Court for sentencing.
If the sentence is not suitable for a fine or conditional discharge, the courts will ask for the probation team to interview you and prepare a report to assist the court in sentencing you. The probation team will recommend an appropriate sentence for you.
What sentences are the Magistrates' Court authorised to give?
The Magistrates’ Court can pass a range of sentences, including;
- a discharge
- a fine
- a community order
- imprisonment for up to six months.
The maximum sentence the Magistrates’ Court can give is 12 months imprisonment or a fine of £5,000, whichever is greater.
Can I appeal if I am found guilty in the Magistrates’ Court?
If you are found guilty in the Magistrates’ Court, you can appeal against your sentence and/or conviction depending on whether you pleaded guilty or not guilty. The appeal would have to be lodged at the Magistrates’ Court within 21 days of the sentence.
If you wish to Appeal against a decision of the Magistrates’ Court, please contact us, and we will be able to advise you.
Is the public allowed in the Magistrates’ Court?
The Magistrates’ Court is a public court, which means that members of the public are allowed to enter and watch proceedings. However, some parts of the court process take place in private, for example, when vulnerable witnesses are giving evidence.