Specialist Criminal Defence Lawyers
The Magistrates’ Court deals with the majority of criminal proceedings and is also the starting point for virtually all cases.
Summary Only Offences
Criminal proceedings fall into three categories. Summary only offences including common assault, most public order offences, harassment, disqualified driving and almost all road traffic matters can only be dealt with in the Magistrates’ Court. The Court also has extensive powers to deal with a whole range of other matters including breaches of community orders, anti-social behaviour, dangerous dogs and the enforcement of certain financial orders.
Either Way Offences
There are a large number of cases which can be dealt with in either the Magistrates’ Court or the Crown Court. These are known as either way offences and include theft, fraud, actual bodily harm, and drugs offences. In these matters a decision is made at the outset of the proceedings as to which is the most suitable court to deal with the matter. If the Court are satisfied that the case can be dealt with in the Magistrates’ Court the person charged can then decide whether they wish the case to be dealt with in the Magistrates’ Court or Crown Court.
Indictable Only Offences
The most serious matters such as murder, rape and robbery are termed indictable only. This means that, although those matters are initially dealt with in the Magistrates’ Court, they are then allocated directly to the Crown Court.
Sentencing Powers – Magistrates’ Court
The Magistrates’ Court has an extensive range of sentencing powers for those who either plead guilty or are convicted after trial. These range from a conditional discharge or low level fine to up to six months imprisonment for a single offence. In certain circumstances the Court can impose twelve months imprisonment for a combination of offences.
Allocation of Cases
At the beginning of March 2016 new guidance from the Sentencing Council made it clear that either way offences should be dealt with in the Magistrates’ Court unless any sentence would obviously be in excess of that Court’s powers or there is some unusual legal, procedural or factual issue which means that the matter ought to be dealt with in the Crown Court.
Olliers Solicitors – Specialist Criminal Defence
Olliers have a dedicated team of Magistrates’ Court specialists who have a vast amount of experience and an excellent reputation for consistently achieving the best possible outcomes.
Olliers provide specialist advice and representation throughout England and Wales.
We are the Manchester Legal Awards Crime Team of the Year 2016 and are ranked as a Top Tier criminal firm in the 2016 edition of the Legal 500 and Chambers Directory 2017.