Section 3 (1) of the Inferior Courts Act (Chapter 94 of the Laws of Belize) provides for the jurisdiction of the Magistrate’s Court tp be administered in the following Judicial Districts.
• The Belize Judicial District
• The Toledo Judicial District
• The Stann Creek Judicial District
• The Cayo Judicial District
• The Orange Walk Judicial District
• The Corozal Judicial District
“Lower Court” a name also given to Magistrate’s Court deals with summary conviction offences. Belize has Magistrate Courts in each of the six judicial districts, however, because of the demographics and population size, three of these districts have additional courts functioning in separate towns and villages.
The Cayo Judicial District has three Magistrates’ Court, one in the Capital City Belmopan and the other two are located in the towns of San Ignacio and Benque Viejo. The Stann Creek Judicial District has two courts, one in Dangriga Town and the other in Independence Village and the Belize Judicial District besides the eight Magistrate Courts, and two municipal courts, has a Magistrate Court in San Pedro Town which serves the neighboring islands.
Any action by an individual (s) that appears to have gone contrary to any of the Laws of Belize is first brought before a Magistrate’s Court. If the offence with which the individual (s) is charged is a summary conviction offence, his case will be decided in the Magistrate’s Court. Section 3 (1) of the Inferior Courts Act (Chapter 94 of the Laws of Belize) provides for the jurisdiction and constitution of the Magistrate’s Courts. The section empowers the Magistrate sitting on the Bench with the power to pass sentences which may consist of imposing fines and imprisonment.
If a case is of an indictable nature or very serious, such as Attempt Murder, Murder, Rape etc., a Magistrate hears evidence by way of a Preliminary Inquiry. If there is sufficient evidence to support the charge the Magistrate sends the case to be tried in the Supreme Court where a Judge and a jury hear the case and make final determinations as to guilt or innocence.
The Magistrate’s Court also has a civil jurisdiction and hears and determines matters of certain dispute between private individual.
The Magistrate’s Courts operates with the intent to fulfill its mission statement
The Mission of the Magistrate’s Court is to provide the community with equal and impartial access to judicial services by ensuring the preservation of judicial independence, protection of individual rights and increasing the public’s trust and confidence by maintaining high ethical standards.