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Describe the range of duties undertaken by Lay Magistrates.

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Introduction

SECTION 1 Describe the range of duties undertaken by Lay Magistrates. Lay Magistrates also known as 'Lay Justices' or 'Justices of the Peace'. There are over 60,000 Lay Magistrates in England and Wales. They undertake a range of duties and are considered to be very important as 97% of court cases begin and end in the Magistrates Court. These 97% are summary trials, which are only tried in the Magistrates Court, and are minor offences. These offences are offences that are not indictable such as rape, murder, manslaughter, robbery, and GBH but are a lot less serious crimes such as driving without insurance, taking a vehicle without consent, and common assault. This is their main duty as they run the trial, decide the verdict and decide the sentences. They do this by deciding if the defendant is guilty or not guilty once hearing both parties and if the defendant pleads guilty or is found guilty of an offence then they decide what the sentence should be. Another duty of a Lay Magistrate is offences triable either way. Where the case is heard lies with the defendant. They are the middle range crimes and include theft, obtaining property by deception and assault causing actual bodily harm. ...read more.

Middle

The police can apply for arrest warrants too, so they can bring people in for questioning or if they have reason to suspicion that a crime is being committed. Lay Magistrates deal with bail applications. This is if you have been arrested and being held by the police. A bail application can able the defendants to be let out on bail until the trial is heard, while promising to come back. Finally the last duty of a Lay Magistrate is to hear appeals from the Magistrate Court to the Crown Court. A judge and two Lay Magistrates who will hear the case and decide the verdict or sentence would hear this appeal. SECTION 2 Discuss the advantages and disadvantages of using ordinary members of the public as Lay Magistrates There are many advantages and disadvantages of using members of the public as Lay Magistrates. One advantage is that the members of the public have to live within 15 miles for which they are commissioned. This is because it is intended that they should have local knowledge of the area and their particular problems in which they sit as Magistrate. Also they will know the local circumstances and how people feel about certain crimes or type of crime and therefore when in court can reflect the ...read more.

Conclusion

My final advantage is that the local community are not complete amateurs due to the improved training Lay Magistrates can undertake, so that they are more involved in their opinions and decision making. They will have the ability to understand and interpret documents, and to identify and comprehend relevant facts. So this will decrease the number of successful appeals as the Magistrates decision will be accurate and bring consistancy in sentencing. For arguing the other way public participation is a bad idea because lack of training or inadequate training of poor quality could bring criticisms to the sentences resulting in an appeal trial. Lack of understanding will bring inconsistencies in sentencing and in granting bail. Overall I think advantages outway disadvantages because Lay Magistrates from local areas are cheap, have good local knowledge and understanding, and are able to see points of view from all aspects of socials class. I think this because the disadvantages are able to put right such as training which will also give them understanding of the cases. My opinion is its a good idea to use the public because the crimes are summary and not too stressful to deal with. ...read more.

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