Distinguishing between a Lay Magistrate and a Stipendiary Magistrate
Magistrates sit on a bench in the magistrates' court and hear around
98% of all criminal cases. Many Magistrates' deal with summary
offences including, driving without insurance and common assault. The
Magistrates listen to the case in hand, and then have to decide
weather the defendant is guilty or not guilty. They have to come up
with a suitable punishment for a guilty plea aswell.
There are two types of magistrates, lay magistrates and stipendiary
magistrates. Lay magistrates are also known as Lay Justices or
Justices of the Peace (JPs).
Lay Magistrates are the more common type of magistrates. Lay
magistrates give their time on voluntary, although expenses can be
paid (under the Justices of Peace Act 1979). There are over 60,000 lay
magistrates in England and Wales. In order to become a lay magistrate,
there are number of criteria that need to be fulfilled. The first
criteria which lay magistrates are required to meet is that they must
be between the ages of 21 and 60 (although plans to extend this margin
to 65 years are being put forward by some Lord Chancellors, in order
to gain a further pool of talent) -Jacqueline Martin, GCSE Law.
Another requirement is the fact that they need to live within 15 miles
of the area to which they are commissioned and they would have had to
live there for a period exceeding 12 months. People who are qualified
in law, ex-police officers or bankrupts are ineligible to become lay
magistrates. This rule also applies to those who have been convicted
of serious offences. In addition, relatives of those who fall into the
categories stated previously would also be ineligible to become lay
magistrates. It is imperative that lay magistrates to have good
character and standing in the local community.
Lay Magistrates work part-time over a minimum of 26 sessions a year.
Lay Magistrates are unqualified in law; many now can be trained in a
new programme of training introduced in 1966. Lay magistrates do not
make decisions on their own; instead they have to sit on a bench with
other Lay Magistrates. A lay magistrate on their own has limited
powers. The maximum prison sentence a lay magistrate can give is 6
months and a maximum fine of £5,000.
A Stipendiary magistrate is similar to a Lay Magistrate except
Stipendiary Magistrates work full-time and are paid. They have as much
powers as a bench of Lay Magistrates. Stipendiary magistrates are
qualified lawyers, who are appointed to sit as full-time professional
judges in magistrates' courts. They support and complement the work of
the lay magistrate and help them maintain consistency with respect to
sentencing. Stipendiary magistrates usually sit alone. There are
currently 92 stipendiary magistrates in England...