Magistrates’ Court Representation
We regularly represent clients in Magistrates’ Courts all over the country, and can provide Legal Aid or private representation for any type of offence, anywhere in England or Wales.
What is the Magistrates’ Court?
The magistrates’ court deals with the vast majority of criminal cases. All cases start here and 97% also conclude here. Many cases, including most motoring cases, can only be dealt with by a magistrates’ court. These are known as “summary only” cases and are heard by lay magistrates or a district judge.
A few offences can only be dealt with in the Crown Court, for example murder, manslaughter, causing death by dangerous or careless driving, robbery and very serious assaults. These are known as “indictable only” cases.
Some offences, for example theft, fraud, some assaults, and the possession, cultivation or supply of drugs are known as “either way” and may be dealt with in either the Crown or the magistrates’ court, depending on their level of seriousness. Common assault, often charged in domestic violence cases, can only be dealt with in the magistrates’ court.
In some cases, you can choose where you wish to be tried and we will advise you about this.
Legal Aid for Magistrates’ Courts
For you to get free legal representation in a magistrates’ court you must make an application to the court. This application includes two tests:
The Interests of Justice Test
The court takes into account a number of factors, such as the risk of prison or loss of job if convicted, or if the case involves a complicated point of law. In some cases, it is automatically granted. Unfortunately, legal aid is rarely granted for motoring cases, although there are exceptions and so you should always seek legal advice.
The Financial Means Test
The second test is the means test. The court will take into account your income and outgoings. If you receive certain benefits, for example income support or income-based job seeker’s allowance, you will be financially eligible automatically. The same applies if your gross annual income is below £12,475 (£239.90 per week). If it is between £12,475 and £22,325 you may be eligible. but the calculation is more complicated. We can advise and help you fill in the Legal Aid Application Forms.
The Legal Aid Agency have created this Criminal Eligibility Excel Calculator to give you an indication of your eligibility for legal aid support before any means test is carried out at court.
You can find a guide on how to use the calculator here.
Private Representation for Magistrates’ Court
If you are not entitled to Legal Aid we can represent you privately. Our fees are reasonable, agreed with you in advance and there are no hidden extras.
The Prosecution will almost always be represented by an experienced solicitor, barrister or other qualified representative and so, unless your case is very minor, it usually makes sense to be represented by your own solicitor. We have considerable experience and have been representing clients for many years.
If you would to talk to a solicitor about Legal Aid or private representation in magistrates’ court, call us or fill out a contact form.
0808 231 7107