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The Magistrates' Courts (Northern Ireland) Order 1981

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Powers of court in dealing summarily with an indictable offenceN.I.

46.  (1)  A resident magistrate may assume the power to deal with an offence summarily under Article 45 at any stage of the proceedings whether any evidence shall then have been given or not and, where such power is assumed, the provisions of any enactment (including this Order) for the time being in force relating to summary offences shall (subject to the succeeding provisions of this Article and to magistrates' courts rules) apply as if the offence were a summary offence and not an indictable offence.

(2) Notwithstanding that a magistrate has decided to deal summarily with an offence specified in Schedule 2 and that the accused has consented to be dealt with summarily the magistrate may reconsider his decision at any time prior to his determination to convict and sentence the accused, and, if satisfied that it is expedient to do so, he may decide, instead of dealing with the offence summarily, to commit the accused for trial and in such event depositions shall be taken or, as the case may require, a preliminary inquiry shall be conducted, and the offence dealt with in all respects as if the magistrate had not decided to deal with it summarily.

(3) Where a resident magistrate deals summarily with an offence specified in Schedule 2 and the offence is such that, had the accused been charged on indictment with that offence, he might lawfully have been convicted of an alternative offence, the magistrate may convict him of such alternative offence.

(4) Upon convicting the accused the magistrate may sentence him to be imprisoned for a term not exceeding twelve months or to a fine not exceeding[F1 the prescribed sum within the meaning of Article 4 of the Fines and Penalties (Northern Ireland) Order 1984] or to both, so, however, that the accused shall not be sentenced to imprisonment for any greater term or to a fine of any greater amount that the term or fine to which he would be liable if tried on indictment.

(5) If the magistrate dismisses a charge with which he has dealt summarily under the provisions of Article 45 and of this Article, the dismissal shall in all cases have effect as though it were an acquittal on a trial of the charge upon indictment.

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