Describe the Funtions of Magistrates

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Magistrates try 97% of all criminal cases and deal with preliminary hearings in the remaining 3%. This involves Early Administrative hearings, remand hearings, bail and committal proceedings. They also deal with civil issues such as enforcing utilities debts, the non-payment of council tax and TV licences. They also hear appeals on the refusal to grant licence for the sale of alcohol.

Specially nominated and trained justices form the Youth panel to hear criminal charges against young offenders aged 10-17 years old. They must consist of 1 man and 1 woman. There is also a Family panel that hears family cases which include protection against violence, affiliation and adoption orders.

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zlA magistrate has sentencing restrictions and can give a maximum of 6 months prison, £5000 fine. A clerk will sit in court with the magistrates and provide legal information for the lay magistrates. A clerk can give legal advice but not take part in decision making process. In the case of R v Eccles Justices, the conviction was quashed where a clerk was thought to have influenced the magistrate’s decision.

There are several procedures that magistrates will conduct in Magistrate Courts. In triable either way offences, where there is a ‘not guilty plea’, magistrates will decide on the mode ...

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