If you’re considering serving as a Justice of the Peace, you’re going to have to meet the criteria required, in order to become a magistrate. There are also some occupations, where you won’t be able to serve in the Magistrates court, which are in areas where your career is already involved in the justice system.
Those are positions within the police force, social services or if you work within HMP prison. Occupations where your impartiality could be comprised will dismiss you from applying to work as a Magistrate. Other than that, if you work out with the justice department, the only other things you have to meet are the criteria set out below.
For those of you have had a troubled past, and perhaps had a conviction against your name, your character will be called into question. People serving in the Magistrates court need to be trusted to serve in the best interest of the public. Part of the screening will involve a criminal background check, and that’s going to have to come back clean for you to be considered to serve on a panel, within a Magistrates court.
You’ll be serving a panel of 3 other Magistrates, one of which will be the chair of the committee. You’ll need strong abilities in communication to be able to convey your opinions to the panel members, in order to ensure that your input is considered before passing sentence. In terms of understanding, this is going to be in legal terminology. While you don’t need a formal legal qualification to work in this role, you will be assisted by a legal advisor, who you’ll need to be able to communicate with, and understand the advice you’re given.
For many of the minor crimes that come before you, you’ll need to have a grasp of the social impact the crimes cause to community residents. An awareness of how anti-social behaviour affects communities will be required, in order for you to make the best decisions when you’re passing sentence, in accordance with the advice presented to you by a legal assistant.
The occupation of a Magistrate is one of a serious nature, therefore you need to display a professional level of maturity, and approach cases in a non-judgemental manner, hearing the case presented to you from both parties. The charges the person is brought up on, as well as the defence their solicitors set before you. There will be times, when you may feel the defence isn’t strong, and you can’t call judgement during a hearing. You have to keep your wits, hear the facts, and discuss things with the panel, so you can all decide on the appropriate action to take.
As you’re responsible for upholding the law, and passing sentence where appropriate, you’re going to need excellent judgemental skills to decide on appropriate sentences to pass. Get things short and it could cause a public outcry, yet serve it too severe and the case could be called for review, where it could later be dismissed altogether. You need to use your judgement to measure the appropriate level of sentences for each of the crimes people stand before you for committing.
Before you can serve as a Magistrate, you’re required to swear to the oath of allegiance to Her Majesty the Queen. Once you’re committed, you need to be an outstanding citizen and lead by example. You may only be serving for a maximum of 26 and a half days in any given year, but every action you take, represents your character and could see you bring disgrace to the judiciary system. When you become a Magistrate, you’re making a lifelong decision to swear and uphold the law to the fullest extent, and serve your duties to the best of your abilities, remaining impartial to each of the cases presented before you.
If you feel you can meet the criteria set out above, then you’ll be in a position to serve your local community, as a Magistrate and contribute to the better good of the community around you.