Judges, Magistrates, know the difference? If not, you could be jeopardizing your position if you go before one and not the other!
Basically, Magistrates were set up to relieve some of the case loads that the Judges have before them, they do not have the power of Judges and initially their decisions are not binding until a Judge confirms them to be. If you are going to Court, usually you will be asked if you want your case to be heard before a Judge or a Magistrate and whether, or not, you get a fair hearing depends on the knowledge and ethics of whomever should be hearing your case. Talk it over with your Lawyer, they should be able to give you the best way to go, especially if they have any experience with the idiosyncrasies with one or the other.