Court Procedure – Summary Hearings in the Magistrates’ Court

What is the procedure in a Summary Case in the Magistrates’ Court

Court Procedure – Summary Hearings in the Magistrates’ Court

The Magistrates’ Court is divided into two streams:

  • Summary Stream – for cases that will begin and end in the Magistrates’ Court
  • Committal Stream – for cases that are more serious and will likely proceed to trial in either the Supreme Court of the County Court.

This page provides an outline of the Court hearings for a case proceeding through the Summary Stream of the Magistrates’ Court. The summary criminal process begins when you are served with a charge or bailed to appear at a mention in the Magistrates’ Court.

First mention date
The summary criminal process is the first step in the Court process. On this date, your lawyers will obtain a copy of the preliminary brief of evidence, if it has not been provided earlier. A case conference will be held with the prosecutors where the issues in your case will be discussed. It may be a guilty plea can be negotiated on terms you are happy with. If this is the case, the case can either finalise on that day or be adjourned to a plea hearing. If your case does not resolve it will be adjourned to a contest mention or if there is outstanding police disclosure necessary or other investigations required, a further mention date may be listed.

Contest mention
The contest mention is the first step in the line when you are pleading not guilty to some or all charges. The purpose of the contest mention is for the Court to engage with the parties in an attempt to resolve the charges. The Court will provide a sentencing indication at the contest mention. A sentence indication is the Court will tell you what sentence they would impose if you were to plead guilty to the charge/s. The Court is motivated to resolve cases and this is usually reflected in the indication given. If the case remains unresolved, it will be adjourned to a contested hearing.

Contested Hearing
A contested hearing is a trial in the Magistrates’ Court. The case commences with the prosecution calling their witnesses in an effort to prove the charges against you. The defence have the opportunity to call evidence, including expert witnesses if relevant.