Magistrates Court Representation
At Levins we attend the magistrates court on a daily basis. All cases which are charged start life in the magistrates court. The more serious cases go to the crown court whilst the vast majority of cases such as low value theft, criminal damage, common assault and driving offences are dealt with by the magistrates court.
The magistrates court is often referred to as “the lower court” as it does not deal with as serious cases at the crown. The cases are either heard by lay magistrates or a district judge. Lay magistrates are members of the public who apply to become magistrates. They are not legally trained and so sit with a solicitor (court clerk) who advises them as to the law. Typically, 3 magistrates hear the cases although on occasion 2 magistrates will sit. District judges are lawyers and hear the case alone.
How does the process at the magistrates court begin ?
The process begins by you receiving a charge or postal charge from the police. This will instruct you which court and what date and time to attend. The fact you are charged means that the prosecution thinks there is enough evidence against you to proceed to a court hearing. In some really serious cases people are kept in custody by the police and taken to the court but the vast majority of cases begin with people being asked to attend or bailed to attend.
When do I contact a solicitor ?
No time like the present. You know you have to go to court so now is the time to seek advice. Legal aid is available depending on the seriousness of the case and financial circumstances of the defendant. Ring us and we will be able to advise you of your options. If legal aid is not available we can advise you of our private fees. The call is FREE so it’s always worth finding out your options.
What happens at the first hearing ?
The first hearing will decide whether the seriousness of the charges requires your case to be sent to the crownCourt. The most serious of cases such as murder and rape are “indictable only”. This means the magistrates have no power to hear the case and must send it to the crown court.
The next category of cases are “either way”. This means that they can either be heard by the magistrates or crown court depending on the seriousness of the charge. Possession of cannabis is likely to stay in the magistrates whilst supplying cannabis is serious enough to be sent to the crown court.
What happens next if my case remains in the magistrates court ?
That depends on whether you plead guilty or not guilty. If you plead guilty you will be sentenced. This could be on the same day or the case adjourned to another date. Lesser crimes will be punished by discharges or fines. The more serious cases will require a report by the probation service and can lead to curfews, unpaid hours or a prison sentence.
If you instruct us to deal with your case, we assist you every step of the way. This includes:-
- Meeting you at court and discussing the evidence with you before you go into court
- Advising you whether you should plead guilty or if there are defences available the nature of the defence and why we instruct you to plead not guilty
- Explaining the procedure in court
- Advising of the likely sentence if you are convicted
- Advising of the trial process, taking statements from you and your witnesses and analysing the evidence if your case is adjourned for trial
- Dealing with any issues in relation to bail
- Acting as advocate on your behalf. This means standing up and speaking to the court. Asking witnesses questions at trial and mitigating at sentence hearing.
- If convicted, advising upon appeal against sentence or conviction
We are highly experienced at magistrates court representation. Our team is led by Louise Bauress and Jessica Foy who attend the magistrates daily to represent our clients. We want the best results for our clients. This can mean a win at trial or a lenient sentence. Each case and defendant is individual.
The majority of our work is at Liverpool Magistrates Court but we regularly travel to Sefton Magistrates Court, Wirral Magistrates Court, Warrington Magistrates Court and Chester. We will travel where ever the case and our clients take us.
If you want advice please don’t hesitate to contact our expert team on 0151 480 5777. Areas we cover include Huyton, Liverpool, Merseyside, North West, North Wales, Cheshire, Lancashire