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Criminal court magistrates

“Your perspective is going to grow massively.”

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What’s it like working as a criminal court magistrate?

Almost all criminal court cases start in a magistrates’ court, and around 95% of them are completed there. As a magistrate in the criminal court, you’ll help to decide upon the next course of action. Cases can include:

  • domestic abuse
  • drug offences
  • motoring offences
  • theft
  • assaults
  • criminal damage
  • public order offences 

What will I do?

  1. Listen to and consider all the evidence provided by the court with the rest of your bench.
  2. If a defendant has pleaded or been found guilty, you can impose fines, community penalties (including unpaid work or addiction rehabilitation) and prison sentences.
  3. You’ll pass more serious offences on to the Crown Court, if a defendant has pleaded or been found guilty for sentencing, or for a full trial with a judge and jury. 

Criminal magistrates can sentence people for up to 12 months for a single offence. Watch this video on how offenders are sentenced in England and Wales to give you an insight into the types of sentences magistrates can give out.

It may sound daunting, but it’s important to remember that you won’t be making these decisions alone. Plus, you’ll have expert training and on-going support to help you, every step of the way.  

Court observations

Before applying to become a magistrate in the criminal court, you’ll need to visit a magistrates’ court at least twice to observe the proceedings. Once you have completed your observations, you can apply to become a magistrate.  

Learn more about how you can prepare for a court visit.