Magistrate vs. Judge?

Is there a difference?

Type in magistrate in the box near the top.

Magistrates (in my jurisdiction) are appointed by the judge. Their duties then include writing misdomeanor/felony/search warrants, and deciding bond for the individual. They do not actually hear the case itself, but merely provide the paperwork for an arrest.

So, as a general rule, no…They are not equals.

Depends on where you are. In HK (as in England), a magistrate is the lowest-level judge. Here in HK, they are full-time. IIRC, in England, some of them are full time and legally qualified, but in rural areas, they are just small town judges who take advice from legal clerks and dispense justice in relatively small-scale cases, and defendants can always appeal if they think the guy’s an idiot.

England has both full-time (stipendiary) magistrates and lay magistrates, who are, essentially, volunteers, with minimal legal training (they’re advised on the law by the clerk of the court). Magistrates’ courts have limited powers, and try only less serious offences.

Although our current much-beloved government (I have to say that, they may be monitoring) is keen to have more cases heard by magistrates (magistrates’ courts are cheaper and have a higher conviction rate), the consensus of opinion in many circles is that you get what you pay for… I’ve heard people who’ve dealt with the system express quite scathing remarks about lay magistrates.

(I am still not a lawyer. But every Englishman is deemed to know the law, so here I am shooting my mouth off.)

It depends upon which jurisdiction you are referring to. Magistrates in the district courts (federal) do the research on the case, read the evidence, and exam it, and then make their recommendation to the judge, who usually (but not always) adopts it. I believe they have to be attorneys.

Magistrates in municipal courts are not lawyers, as a rule, but you have to examine each state’s requirements. They can hear and decide small claims. These are sometimes called small claims courts. Magistrates who hear criminal matters also do not have to be lawyers, at least in SC. YMMV. However, they have plenipotent powers, comparable to a judge, but cannot set bail on manslaughter or murder charges. They hear the state’s case against the defendant and the defendant’s defense and decide the amount of bail. Those cases are then set for trial before a judge, if the defendant requests trial by jury.