Have you ever considered becoming a magistrate?

There are currently vacancies to become a magistrate in Suffolk, and people of all ages and from all walks of life are encouraged to apply. Magistrates are ordinary people who hear legal cases in court.

Are you:

  • Reliable and committed to serving the community?
  • Aware of social issues?
  • Able to understand people, with a sense of fairness?
  • Able to think logically?
  • Willing to learn new skills?

If you answered ‘yes’ to the questions above, you might wish to find out more about this opportunity.  Magistrates come from a wide range of backgrounds and no legal qualifications or specialist knowledge are required – you’ll receive all the training you need.

What is the role of a magistrate?

Magistrates (also called Justices of the Peace) deal with 95% of all offences, including minor assaults, theft, handling stolen goods and motoring offences.  They then decide on appropriate sentences such as fines, unpaid work in the community, rehabilitation orders, or prison sentences of up to 12 months.  Magistrates listen carefully to all evidence given in court and follow a structured decision-making process. They sit in ‘benches’ of three and are advised on points of law by a legal adviser who sits in court with them.  Magistrates can also conduct hearings in Family Courts and hear cases in Youth Courts.  In these situations, you have additional specialist training.

Am I eligible to apply?

To be eligible to apply, you must be between the ages of 18 and 65, and without any past serious criminal convictions.  You can’t be a magistrate if you work in a small number of jobs where there could be a conflict of interest – for instance, if you are a police officer. 

It’s a voluntary role, but you can claim expenses. The Magistrates Court covering Suffolk is based in Ipswich and magistrates must commit to at least 13 days per year plus time for ongoing training.  Your employer must, by law, allow you reasonable time off work to serve as a magistrate.

Being a magistrate is an interesting and rewarding role which allows you to develop new skills and make an important contribution to your local community.

Where can I find out more?

You can find out more about the role, contact details for Suffolk and how to apply here Magistrates Recruitment – Volunteer as a magistrate (judiciary.uk)

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