Legal representation you can rely on

If you are facing charges which are to be heard in the Magistrates’ Court, it’s only natural to be feeling apprehensive. In some cases, the outcome can have a life-changing impact, so seeking legal representation you can rely on is key. 

Whatever the circumstances or allegations may be, Smith Partnership believes that everyone has the right to the best possible legal representation. To find out how we can help you, contact us today.

How we can help you

Our team of expert criminal defence lawyers have extensive experience in representing defendants facing a wide range of prosecutions which have been brought by:

  • The Crown Prosecution Service 
  • The Health & Safety Executive 
  • Trading Standards 
  • The Department of Work and Pensions 
  • The Environment Agency 
  • DEFRA 

Drawing from many years of experience in defending cases in Magistrates’ Courts, our solicitors tailor a proactive and pragmatic approach to suit your individual situation and reach the best possible outcome. 

What to expect

Criminal offences which reach local Magistrates’ Courts are heard by magistrates drawn from the local community or by a District Judge. Depending on the severity or complexity of the case, it will either remain with the magistrates or be referred to the Crown Court if more serious or complex. 

To appear at a Magistrates’ Court hearing, you would either have been summonsed or charged by the police. In both instances, it is vital to seek expert legal representation straight away to ensure you get the most appropriate result. 

Our team of advocates are highly trained in building robust cases for clients facing court proceedings. Whether you plead guilty or decide to defend your case, our team has the knowledge and expertise to support you every step of the way.

Accessible and approachable advice

Our service is built on the belief that everyone has the right to legal representation. We have developed an extensive Youth Court practice which enables us to offer expert legal support in youth cases. 

With offices in Derby, Leicester, Burton Upon Trent, Swadlincote and Stoke on Trent, we also offer an accessible service, meaning we are on hand to help no matter which local court you are due to appear at. We will readily arrange to cover court hearings throughout the country, where feasible.

The experience we have in defending cases at the Magistrates’ Court has highlighted just how important swift and proactive action is. For this reason, we offer a 24 hour service which allows us to ensure your legal rights are protected at all times. 

We also offer advice regarding legal aid eligibility. If eligible, we will support you through the application process but if not, we will provide an honest and transparent fixed-fee quotation, as well as explanations of all other available payment options. Whatever your financial circumstances, you will receive a consistently high level of service and expertise.

Why Choose Smith Partnership?

Our criminal law team’s expertise is backed by a top tier Legal 500 ranking. Not only does this showcase our experience, it demonstrates the dedication we have to this specialist sector of law.  

Where matters become more serious or complex and your case is referred to the Crown Court, our team of Higher Court Advocates are well-equipped to continue supporting you with expert legal representation. 

Smith Partnership’s legal services are underpinned by excellent client care by means of clear and practical advice. We understand how important it is to be fully aware of your position and options in Magistrates’ Court cases, which is why we make it a priority to ensure that anything we communicate to you is straightforward and jargon-free at all times.  


Having been awarded the highest possible ranking by The Legal 500, The Smith Partnership team is number one for criminal law in the East Midlands. It noted:

Andrew Oldroyd heads the criminal defence practice at Smith Partnership with the assistance of Kevin McGrath, who leads the corporate crime and fraud unit. Noted for its ‘great experience, technical ability and commitment‘ the firm takes on defence cases relating to homicide, drug conspiracies, sexual assault, motoring offences and prosecutions by various regulatory bodies. Other key contacts are David Cusack and Crown Court litigators, Vasanti Vaitha and Beth McGovern.

The combination of friendliness and professionalism – they are very approachable and do not give the impression of “judging” clients. They have a strong work ethic and far better respected than other firms in the local area with a high volume of Higher Court Advocates.

Very strong criminal team, with great experience, technical ability and commitment.

Huge presence in The Midlands for crime. Andrew Oldroyd partner takes the case on as though each client is a family member.

The Legal 500, 2023

Contact our team today

To find out how our expert team of solicitors can help you, contact us today on 0330 123 1229, send us an email via or complete our contact form.


If the outcome was announced in open court, the public should be entitled to ask the relevant court for details. However, restrictions can often apply where, for example, the defendant is a youth. Details of cases are widely reported in the media.

Virtually all criminal cases, regardless of seriousness, commence in the Magistrates Court. The substantial majority of such cases also conclude in this court. Depending on its category and seriousness, the case may then be allocated to the Crown Court, if the Magistrates Court feels that its powers of punishment are insufficient. Even if the court feels able to retain the case, defendants can sometimes elect to have their case committed to the Crown Court.

Cases are either dealt with by a District Judge, who is legally qualified, or by Magistrates. Magistrates, who usually sit as a group of three people, are not legally qualified but are assisted by a legal adviser who is fully trained.

If a not guilty plea is entered and the case remains in the Magistrates Court, a trial will be necessary. Evidence will then be heard by the magistrates or by a judge who will go on to consider the appropriate verdict. If the defendant is on a low income and the case is sufficiently serious, then “legal aid” is likely to be granted. This means that the defence case would be funded by the State and no financial contribution would be expected from the defendant. In the event of a conviction, however, court and prosecution costs are usually imposed.

If legal aid is not granted, the defendant would have to pay privately for representation. Such costs will vary tremendously and will depend on the nature of the charge, the number of witnesses and the level of preparation required. Funding, by reference to an agreed hourly rate or a fixed fee, would be discussed.

These funding issues apply equally to the most common scenario whereby defendants admit their wrongdoing by way of a guilty plea.

Yes. If a single offence is sufficiently serious, the Magistrates Court can sentence a defendant to imprisonment for up to 6 months. In some circumstances, the total sentence imposed can increase if multiple offences are being considered. With some very limited exceptions, the maximum total sentence is 12 months.

As the Crown Court generally deals with the most serious cases, the sentences imposed are often custodial and lengthy. This reflects the fact that the Magistrates have usually decided that their sentencing powers are too limited. Please note, however, that custodial sentences are by no means inevitable in the event of a conviction or guilty plea. The Crown Court has a range of non-custodial penalties at their disposal.