In the United Kingdom, the crown court deals with more serious cases, such as murder, whereas the magistrates’ court would deal with less serious offences.

The difference between the two

Crown Courts hear more serious criminal cases such as murder, robbery and serious fraud. Magistrates’ Courts hear less serious criminal cases such as theft, assault and motoring offences. The decisions made in Magistrates’ Courts can be appealed to the Crown Court. The decisions made in the Crown Court can only be appealed to the High Court or, in some cases, the Supreme Court.

Are magistrates courts higher than the crown courts?

The short answer to this question is that magistrates courts are not higher than crown courts, but they are a separate court system with different levels of authority. The two court systems have different functions and handle different types of cases.

Magistrates deal with minor criminal offences and civil cases involving amounts of money up to £5,000. They also hear applications for things like search warrants and banning orders. Crown Courts deal with more serious criminal cases, such as murder, rape and robbery. They also hear appeals from magistrates’ courts.

There are three levels of magistrate: district judges (magistrates’ courts), circuit judges (magistrates’ courts) and recorder (a part-time judge in the Crown Court). There is only one level of Crown Court judge. District judges have the most experience and expertise and can preside over all types of case in the magistrates’ court, including more serious offences that can be committed to the Crown Court for trial.

What type of cases are heard in the crown court?

Crown Court deals with the most serious criminal cases. These include cases which:

-carry a maximum sentence of life imprisonment, or
-are indictable only offences (which can only be tried in the Crown Court), or
– either way offences where the defendant has elected to have their case tried in the Crown Court.

The vast majority of criminal cases are heard in Magistrates’ Courts, but there are some types of offence which must be heard in the Crown Court. The decision about which court will hear a case is made by the prosecution, who must consider factors such as the seriousness of the offence and whether it is suitable to be dealt with at Magistrates’ Court level.

If a case is sent to the Crown Court, this does not necessarily mean that it will go to trial. The majority of cases dealt with in the Crown Court are resolved through plea bargaining (where the defendant pleads guilty to a lesser offence) or are discontinued (where the proceedings are stopped).

Why would a magistrates court send a case to crown court?

There are a number of reasons why a magistrates court may send a case to Crown Court, including:

– If the magistrates feel that they do not have the power to deal with the case
– If the case is too serious to be dealt with by a magistrates court
– If the defendant has elected to have their case heard in crown court
– If the victim of the crime is a child or vulnerable adult


Photo by Tingey Injury Law Firm on Unsplash

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