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Magistrates resign over court charges


Michael Browne
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More than 50 magistrates have resigned in recent weeks over court charges that supposedly encourage defendants to plead guilty to save money, the Magistrates Association (MA) has said.

 

The criminal court charge came into effect in April as a means of ensuring that convicted adult offenders pay towards the cost of running the criminal justice system.

 

The hefty range of penalties is levied on top of fines, compensation orders, victim surcharges or prosecution costs already imposed on those who plead guilty or are convicted at magistrates’ or crown courts.

 

The criminal court charge ranges from £150 for anyone who pleads guilty to a summary offence at magistrates’ court up to £1,000 for those convicted after a trial of a more serious offence at magistrates’ court. In the crown court, the charge ranges from £900 for a guilty plea up to £1,200 for conviction after trial.

 

Because it costs far less to plead guilty rather than be convicted after a contested trial, some allege it creates a perverse incentive for the innocent to plead guilty rather than run the risk of failing to convince the court.

 

http://www.theguardian.com/law/2015/jul/31/magistrates-resign-court-charges-encourage-innocent-plead-guilty

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Whatever happened to the Presumption of innocence??

 

Our legal system is not perfect and innocent people are convicted

 

Financial and judicial penalties have always been left for the judiciay to decide on individual circumstances seperate from the executive

 

This is a perversion of justice.

 

What do you expect from a lord chancellor who does not even hold a law degree who implemented this travisty to natural justice

 

No wonder the judiciary are in full revolt at the moment, especially with legal aid

Edited by obiter dictum
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Mad world we are in.

 

If people don't pay these amounts, then presumably they could be sent to Prison which costs over £30,000 a year. Next step is for prisoners to be charged for prison accommodation and they can pay extra if they want a single cell with en suite bathroom.

 

Give it another 10 years under the Tories and you will have no state sector left. All Police, courts and prisons will be private organisations. The Police will be given financial incentives to find crimes, which enable the courts and prisons to earn money.

 

In the news are stories that the government are planning on cuttiing 20,000 Police. Residents in Hampstead are apparently clubbing together to fund several neighbourhood Police officers.

 

As the ex Greek finance minister said on BBC QT, the Tories are using austerity to cut back the state to a very low level. It must follow that they see private companies running what were considered essential state services.

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They sold all the old student loans to a company that is actually owned by some big US corporation. They have companies operating in Europe, but the money seems to be routed via Luxembourg, via tax havens, back to the US.

 

And it is a big US corporation being considered to run tbe court fines enforcement system.

 

People say Corbyn has no chance, but if a true picture of what is happening is revealed to the British public they won't like it. How many contracts are going to companies who won't pay full tax in the UK ?

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The criminal court charge ranges from £150 for anyone who pleads guilty to a summary offence at magistrates’ court up to £1,000 for those convicted after a trial of a more serious offence at magistrates’ court. In the crown court, the charge ranges from £900 for a guilty plea up to £1,200 for conviction after trial.

 

Because it costs far less to plead guilty rather than be convicted after a contested trial, some allege it creates a perverse incentive for the innocent to plead guilty rather than run the risk of failing to convince the court.

 

Maybe defendants ought to try a little-known response when expected to enter a plea: DON'T!!!

By my reckoning (though I'm not a lawyer!) one then shouldn't be charged the amounts shown above; however, the Court will be required to act as if a Not Guilty plea had been entered.

[Could any lawyer reading this please comment on my suggestion?]

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Maybe this was the plan.. suggest something really whacky.. have the judges resign so they can reduce the salary bill.. then reverse their ideas !

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Unfortunately Magistrates courts dont seem to give a damn about the law and believe in making quick cash - and the Governments all new laws (meaning you can not appeal unless you can afford to, and when you win your appeal your not entitled to any compensation) just back the fact up that we dont give a damn if you innocent or not your in front of us now so your going to pay for our time - as I sadly know: http://www.consumeractiongroup.co.uk/forum/showthread.php?438940-Miscarriage-of-Justice-out-of-pocket-any-compensation&p=4670252&viewfull=1#post4670252

 

The MP's don't give a damn, there just playing a huge game of Monopoly / Game Of Life, with the minions that we are.

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Guest funforus

Good to see that some people still resign on a point of principle. As for the fees these are, of course, simply revenue raising as is the 'plea bargain' offer that is made to pressure people to give themselves a criminal record simply to save money and time.

 

I speak from experience. Recently whilst abroad I parked up my car which was taxed and insured off the road, on grass, at my parents' place in Derbyshire where the Police are warning people to be aware of 'cloned vehicles' not only being used to drive tax and insurance free but also to 'do runners' after filling up with fuel.

 

Whilst I was away a similar vehicle bearing my number was photographed by a speed camera. It was clearly not mine as the spacing of the digits on the number plate was different and, in any case, mine was still exactly where I left it sunk into the grass, was covered in dust and cobwebs and no one had witnessed it ever being absent.

 

This did not stop a demand for me to disclose who was driving and, when I could not, a summons for my exceeding the speed limit and for failing to declare who was driving at the time. I sent in copious evidence and turned up three times before the case was heard as did my witnesses. On opening the case I simply asked what the evidence was that I was driving, the CPS agreed that it was an unevidenced assumption and withdrew the charge. The magistrates then threw out the other charge on the evidence - all of which had been offered beforehand and ignored by the Police. They had, instead, used their time to give me several opportunities to 'confess' - ie plead guilty - with the threat that it was much more expensive to keep up my 'preposterous claims of innocence'.

 

The costs to me were three days in correspondence, research and putting together evidence and three days and a three figure sum in fuel travelling to court. No one was interested in compensating me or my witnesses for the 'try on' by the Police and CPS.

 

It is perhaps time for an updated or revised 'Magna Carta'. The concept of innocence until PROVEN guilty appears to have been lost and that of access to real justice (and by that I don't mean just the court process) has become a bad joke. The Justice Dept, the Police and the criminal justice system generally appear to be 'gaming the system' forgetting the real objectives and underpinning philosophies. It was quite obvious to me that the magistrates on the bench were embarrassed and ill at ease with the situation in which I was being presented as guilty unless I could prove my innocence. Fortunately for me I was comprehensively documented as out of the country when the offence was allegedly committed and there were multiple compelling factors to prove my vehicle had not moved and that the one photographed was not mine.

 

None of these things prevented the Police and CPS pressing on regardless in making unsupported and uninvestigated allegations stated as fact and I hate to think how many people would have crumbled in the absence of the funds, the amount of evidence available to me and the time to collect and structure it and the competence to defend themselves from such allegations. This new financial threat is merely another layer of an ever increasing erosion of our rights and should be as strongly resisted as the 'assumption of guilt' that is creeping into much criminal legislation.

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Going slightly off track but related in some way to the post above,

 

TEC in Northampton has no Judges but they can dish out the fine without a proper investigation,

Council tax liability orders most have never been seen by a Judge.

 

So it seems we must be all guilty as charged,

 

Good on the JP's who have resigned on principle, as shame a lot more have not.

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  • 4 weeks later...

Not a lot to add other than to say my experience of the justice system supports the reports above. 2 convictions - first was one without evidence and the second was similar with the added twist of failing to understand English. Those battles are ongoing. They were made worse by being legally represented. My solicitor informed me I wasn't entitled to a jury.

 

The third case never got to court as the police dropped the case - so, conveniently we never found out officially who had sexually assaulted my mother - that they were trying to frame me for.

 

The county council had a fourth go at us - accused me and my brother of ill-treating Mum. The whole episode lead to Mum's death - but that's not important to the State, is it. 10 months later we were charged. From previous criminal court experience (and lawyers) we stayed as Litigants in Person - with me dealing with the courts on behalf of both of us.

 

First step was to get it out of mags and into Crown. The judge at Crown asked us for an initial defence. I outlined the case and offered good defence. A trial date was set - for 5 days. At the second hearing, the prosecution offered no evidence against us as they'd nothing to argue against our defence. We were found not guilty be default.

 

They'd claimed we weren't feeding Mum properly and this was causing her significant weight loss. They also claimed we were denying Mum access to healthcare treatment via regular visits by the District Nurse. Th DN wasn't actually treating Mum for anything! As for Mum's weight loss, it had start a year before and continued a year after - while she was in 'care' - we had a pretty straight-line graph of her weight with the middle bit their alleged ill-treatment by us weight loss.

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