Magistrates handle minor, generally criminal cases, such as traffic violations, public health nuisances, petty theft and even minor assaults. They are mostly found in England and Wales, although some large municipalities in the United States also have magistrates courts. The magistrates that preside over these courts are usually unpaid volunteers.Know More
Magistrates' courts are always open to the public, except when the magistrates are acting as examining justices. In this role, they examine the known facts about a serious crime to decide whether a defendant should be sent to a higher court for trial. All criminal cases in England and Wales go through magistrate's courts, but only the minor ones mentioned previously are given final judgements by them. The ability of magistrates to imprison or fine defendants is very limited. Magistrates' courts also handle cases involving the care of children younger than 14 as well as the criminal cases of minors between 14 and 17 years old, except in murder cases.
Magistrates in the United States are either elected or appointed to the office. In many places, they do not require legal training, although in large cities they are often lawyers. They have similar final jurisdiction to the magistrates' courts in England and Wales.Learn more about Branches of Government
According to Your Dictionary, examples of misdemeanors include threats to commit assault, petty theft, indecent exposure, trespassing, possession of marijuana, and minor traffic violations such as reckless driving or speeding. Misdemeanors are typically crimes that are punishable by less than one year in jail.Full Answer >
Lay magistrates play a role in both civil and criminal court systems in England and Wales, without the benefit of formal legal degrees. These courts adhere to the fair trial standards set forth by the United Nations and the Council of Europe.Full Answer >
In the United States, judicial power is divided between the federal and state governments; within each court system, a tiered structure of original and appellate jurisdiction is in place. Both the executive and legislative bodies of government exert checks over the power of the judiciary. Judicial power is outlined in Article III of the Constitution.Full Answer >
The predominantly British tradition of barristers wearing horsehair wigs in court has a number of purposes, including the projection of authority or solemnity and the preservation of anonymity. Although many barristers see it as a negative effect, wigs also often serve to intimidate.Full Answer >