The magistrates’ court is a court that deals with crimes that are not serious, known as summary offences. The magistrates’ court is a UK court, and is also found in some Commonwealth countries.
In the UK, magistrates’ courts deal with minor offences (generally, fines of up to £5,000 and imprisonment of up to 6 months). However, when dealing with two or more offences, a magistrates’ court has the power to impose a sentence of up to a year if at least two of the offences are triable either way. If an offence is triable either way, the offence can be tried at either a magistrates’ court or a crown court (a criminal court that can try more serious offences). For certain specified offences, maximum fines permitted to magistrates may be higher. Magistrates sitting in a youth court have the power to impose a sentence of youth for a period of up to two years.
A typical example of a case tried at a magistrates’ court was one of a man who was jailed after admitting to stealing from a Liverpool store. He pleaded guilty to the theft at South Sefton Magistrates’ Court and was given a 32-week prison sentence.