What to expect at the Magistrates Court

Following charge by police, or receipt of a postal summons or written requisition, it is important to contact us as soon as possible so that we can begin preparing your case at an early stage. Each case is different and our team of lawyers will guide you through every step of the case, tailored to your particular needs.

Where possible we will seek to obtain a copy of the prosecution evidence ahead of your first appearance at court and will conduct any necessary meeting with you ahead of the court hearing. If we are not able to obtain papers ahead of time, these will be obtained on the date of your court hearing and we will have the opportunity of discussing this with you in full prior to your case being called into court.

At the first hearing you will be expected to give an indication of your plea, where possible.  We will take you through the evidence and advise you on the strengths and weaknesses of the prosecution case.  We will obtain your full instructions and give you advice about whether may wish to plead guilty or not guilty.

If you plead guilty the Magistrates, where possible, will then proceed to consider your sentence.  This may be immediately or they may adjourn the case for a pre-sentence report, which would involve you seeing the probation service.  The probation service would then prepare a report to assist the court with the various sentencing options. If the Magistrates think the offence is too serious for them to deal with, they can send your case to the Crown Court for sentence.

If you plead not guilty, the court will sometimes have to decide whether your case can be dealt with in the Magistrates Court or whether it is so serious that it needs to go to the Crown Court. If suitable for the Magistrates Court, a date will be set for your trial to take place and your case will be adjourned until then.  We will then proceed to prepare your case for trial.  This will include instructing any necessary experts, obtaining your further instructions and speaking to any defence witnesses.

At trial the court will hear evidence from any prosecution witnesses and our lawyers will challenge evidence where necessary, by cross examination.  You are then given the opportunity to give evidence yourself and any defence evidence is called.  The Magistrates will then retire to consider their decision.

If you have been asked to appear at the Magistrates Court in relation to a criminal allegation, or for more information about any of the issues raised in this article, contact a member of the Magistrates Court team at your nearest office.