Magistrates are quitting in protest against court charges
7th September 2015
Magistrates are quitting the profession in protest against unfair and irrational criminal court charges. An estimated 30 magistrates from across the UK had quit their positions in July and this is estimated to have doubled by now.
Those working in lawyer jobs and other legal professions will be interested to hear that Richard Monkhouse, who is the chairman of the Magistrates Association, told the Law Society Gazette that guilty pleas are being forced from innocent people and that victim compensation is being hit as magistrates try and make sure all costs are being paid.
Currently fixed costs in the magistrates’ court are £150 for defendants who submit a guilty plea and £520 for defendants convicted after a trial. Many magistrates feel that these charges are unfairly affecting the poor and are unlikely to actually be paid.
Monkhouse added, “We know there are defendants around the country who are saying ‘I’m not guilty’ but they will plead guilty because of the risk the financial impact will be greater.
“Our members tell us people are being pressured into pleading guilty because the defendant thinks it will cost them money.”
The Magistrates Association has now called for a review of the charges to be brought forward and wants its magistrates to be given the ability to set different levels of charges.
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