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Magistrate jobs incorporate different tasks, and typically allow magistrates to act as judges and preside over court cases. Other magistrate jobs require the magistrate to set bond amounts for people who have been accused of crimes. In some regions, being a magistrate is a full-time job, while in other regions magistrate jobs are part-time. In many cases, magistrates are appointed by regional officials.
When a magistrate acts as a judge, it means presiding over the lowest courts. It is in this court that the magistrate hears minor criminal cases. He or she may also be responsible for sending cases to a higher court if there is enough evidence presented to warrant it. In some areas of the world, a magistrate holds a full-time day job while sitting on the magistrate bench during evenings and weekends.
The training required to become a presiding magistrate varies by region. In some areas, magistrates are required to have extensive training and legal certifications. In other areas, very little training is required.
While presiding, the magistrate has the right to make decisions and to pass down judgments regarding the case and the fate of the defendant. Magistrates can set fees and incarcerate defendants. Lawyers often present a defendant's case to the magistrate.
A magistrate's jurisdiction is usually confined to simple offenses, such as shoplifting, public intoxication, and traffic tickets. In some regions, the magistrate can also hear assault or burglary cases. The defendant may appear before the magistrate several times before the case is completed. The defendant sees the magistrate right away to announce how he or she will plea. Then another hearing is set for the magistrate to hear the case and pass judgment.
Magistrates are also allowed to preside over civil cases. Divorces, adoptions, and lawsuits are examples of civil cases under the legal jurisdiction of a magistrate's job. During a civil case, the magistrate is typically charged with dividing assets or determining fault in a suit.
While most magistrate jobs involve presiding over a hearing, some magistrates are charged with setting bonds for people who have been accused of committing a crime. In such instances, the magistrate determines the amount of the bond based on many factors, including whether the accused is a flight risk or a current danger to society. In some regions, the magistrate sets a temporary bond until the accused can get into a courtroom for a bond hearing by a judge.
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