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Magistrates' Court (England And Wales)
In England and Wales, a magistrates' court is a lower court which holds trials for summary offences and preliminary hearings for more serious ones. Some civil matters are also decided here, notably family proceedings. In 2015 there were roughly 330 magistrates' courts in England and Wales,[1] though the Government was considering closing up to 57 of these.[2] The jurisdiction of magistrates' courts and rules governing them are set out in the Magistrates' Courts Act 1980. Almost all criminal proceedings start at a magistrates' court. Summary offences are smaller crimes that can be punished under the magistrates' court's limited sentencing powers – community sentences, fines, short custodial sentences. Indictable offences, on the other hand, are serious crimes (rape, murder); if an initial hearing at the magistrates' court finds there is a case to answer, they are committed to the Crown Court, which has a much wider range of sentencing power
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