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Magistrate's Court (Criminal) Jurisdiction

The Magistrate's Court (Criminal) has unlimited jurisdiction to deal with all criminal offences other than those that are indictment only. The practice and procedure of the Magistrate's Court (Criminal) is primarily governed by the Criminal Procedure and Evidence Ordinance and the Criminal Procedure Rules 2018.

The Senior Magistrate sits alone in the Magistrate's Court and deals with the more serious matters before the criminal courts. All cases ordinarily start life before the Summary Court, where the Justices of the Peace determine whether their sentencing powers are sufficient. Where the Justices determine that their sentencing powers are not sufficient the matter will be committed to the Magistrate's Court. This is because the Senior Magistrate has unlimited sentencing powers.

The Justices may also decide that a matter should be dealt with by the Magistrate's Court because the defendant has other matters before the Magistrate's Court, or there is a co-accused already before the Magistrate's Court, or because the case may involve complex points of law, or because the matter is of particular public interest, or for any other reason that is in the interests of justice.

In some cases, the Magistrate's Court decides if a defendant will be kept in custody or granted bail. This may happen if another court hearing is needed or the Court needs more information before it can pass sentence.

If a defendant is aggrieved with the decision of the Magistrate's Court they may be able to appeal to the Supreme Court. Further details regarding appeals can be found on the Supreme Court (Criminal) Jurisdiction below and in the FAQ "I am unhappy with the sentence I have been given, what can I do?"