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In England and Wales, any of the inferior courts with primarily criminal jurisdiction covering a wide range of offenses, from minor traffic violations and public-health nuisances to somewhat more serious crimes, such as petty theft or assault. Magistrates' courts with similar jurisdictions, including jurisdiction over small civil claims, may be found in certain large U.S. municipalities.
This entry comes from Encyclopædia Britannica Concise. For the full entry on magistrates' court, visit Britannica.com.
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