Following a charge or summons, the next stage is the hearing at the Magistrates Court. All matters commence in the Magistrates Court and either remain in the Magistrates Court or get transferred to the Crown Court. The vast majority of criminal cases, in fact over 95% of all criminal matters are heard in the Magistrate’s court.
The first appearance at the Magistrates Court is critical as in most cases you are required to enter either a guilty or not guilty plea, this requires a thorough examination of the prosecution case at this early stage.
The first appearance also determines whether the matter would be dealt with in the Magistrates court or crown court. Both venues have their advantages and disadvantages, our solicitors are on hand to advise you as to the likely venue and any tactical advantages that may arise in deciding to elect for a crown court trial.
The decisions made at the first appearance have a major bearing on any potential trials or sentencing. We strongly advise you contact our magistrates department at the earliest opportunity. Our expert solicitors will, as a result, be afforded the time to request the prosecution case prior to the first appearance. Our solicitors will, therefore, be in a position to examine the evidence and carry out any investigations required on your behalf in advance of the first appearance.
Legal aid is still available for matters heard in the magistrate’s court depending on the nature of the offence and the financial means of the accused. We are happy to act on legal aid, however, should legal aid not be available we offer competitive fixed fee agreements for work undertaken by the Magistrates court team.