What’s the difference between the Magistrates’ Court and the Crown Court?
The severity of the offence you’re facing a charge for determines whether your case goes to the Crown Court or the Magistrates’ Court. There are some key differences outlined below:
Almost all criminal cases start in the Magistrates’ Court. At the Magistrates’ Court, your trial will be heard either by a District Judge or Magistrates. Magistrates are ordinary people who volunteer and undergo training. Your case will not be dealt with by a jury.
The Magistrates’ Court deals with less serious criminal offences, such as:
- Minor criminal damage
- Most motoring offences, for example, speeding offences
- Drunk and disorderly behaviour
- Most drug offences
Most criminal cases also finish in the Magistrates’ Court. Only when a case is considered more serious is it passed onto the Crown Court.
As highlighted above, the Crown Court only deals with the most severe criminal offences or appeals against the Magistrates’ Court.
In the Crown Court you will normally be trialed by a jury who decides whether you’re guilty or not and a judge who decides on your sentence.