THE MAGISTRATES COURT
Updated: Jan 21
The Magistrates Courts:
Every adult charged with a criminal offence will have his or her first hearing at the Magistrates Court. It is at the first hearing that a decision will be made by the court as to whether the case proceeds in the Magistrates Court as a trial or sentence or is sent the Crown Court. It is vital therefore that the correct advice is provided to clients at this stage and with the vast amount experience provided by Grech Gooden Solicitors clients are always assured that they will obtain the correct advice at this early and very important stage.
Summary Only Offences:
These are cases that (almost always) can only be tried in the Magistrates’ Court. By default, the maximum sentence that can be imposed is six months imprisonment (although many offences have a lower maximum sentence).
A complete list of all the offences that come within this category would be far too long, but they include almost all driving offences (unless it was someone driving dangerously or someone was killed or injured), Common Assault (an assault without any injury, or only minor injury), s4 and 5 of the Public Order Act (basically using offensive words or causing a fear of violence) and most regulatory offences.
In relation to these offences, there is generally a rule that the prosecution has to be started (normally by the police telling the court that they wish to start one) within 6 months of the offence being committed.
These will always start and conclude in the Magistrates Court and thousands of trial and sentence hearings have been undertaken by the experienced solicitors of the firm. We always strive to provide continuity of service throughout the court process. So that clients are confident that the solicitors dealing with their case are fully prepared at each and every stage.
Either Way Offences:
A majority of charges fall in to this category and they can be either dealt with in the Magistrates Court or be sent to the Crown Court if they are deemed to serious to be dealt with by Magistrates. At the first hearing at the Magistrates Court the client will advised as to the likelihood of the case being dealt with in the magistrates court or being deemed to serious for that venue and being committed to the Crown Court, for either trial or sentence depending on their plea. It is therefore vital that the correct advice is obtained by the client to ensure that correct plea is entered and the appropriate venue is decided up on, solicitors at the firm have vast amounts of experience in dealing with such matters.
Indictable Only Offences:
This category consists of the most serious offences and after the first hearing at the magistrates court the case is sent to the Crown Court for all subsequent hearings. The Crown Court has a strict time frame for dealing with each stage of Crown Court cases and therefore the firm is acknowledged as providing excellent services under strict deadlines. Due to the fact that the firm has an in house Crown Court department the preparation of cases subject to the Crown Court timetable is made much easier as opposed to many firms that outsource their Crown Court work