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NCJRS Abstract

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NCJ Number: 74503 Find in a Library
Title: Decision of the Court - A Study of Magistrates' Courts in the Metropolitan Area, With Particular Reference to a Comparison of the Conduct of Cases and the Sentencing Practices as Between Stipendiary to Magistrates and Justices of the Peace
Author(s): J F Walsh; J Heath; K Karmis; P Whittaker
Corporate Author: University of Melbourne
Dept of Criminology
United States of America
Date Published: 1978
Page Count: 26
Sponsoring Agency: University of Melbourne
Melbourne, Australia
Format: Document
Language: English
Country: Australia
Annotation: The results of an investigation of differences in sentencing practices and functional characteristics between Australian stipendiary magistrates and justices of the peace are reported.
Abstract: Magisterial and justice of the peace courts were visited and cases involving 358 offenders concerned with 583 offenses were observed. In general, physical facilities were poor, procedures were informal, and defendants took little part in proceedings. Counsels, where available, were competent. A total of 55 percent of the pleas were guilty pleas; 23 percent were not-guilty pleas. Those pleading not guilty were more likely to be represented by counsel, as were those presenting mixed pleas. Defendants appearing before justices of the peace were less likely to represented, and, if they pled not guilty, were less likely to be convicted. Magistrates had the highest conviction rate, followed by benches composed of magistrates and justices, and then by justices sitting alone. Chances for dismissal were highest for unrepresented defendants appearing before justices. No differences in sentencing were found between the two systems. The type of plea had no effect on the penalty imposed. Tabular data is included.
Index Term(s): Australia; Judicial decisions; Justices of the peace; Magistrates
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