Minor criminal offences, known as 'simple offences' More serious offences, known as 'indictable offences'
Most indictable offences, as defined in the Criminal Code, are tried before a Judge and jury. All offences punishable by life imprisonment are tried in the Supreme Court. Other indictable offences including grievous bodily harm, unlawful wounding, and indecent assault are tried in the District Court. The pre-trial criminal procedure for the District and Supreme Court is similar.
The first appearance of the accused person is in the Courts of Petty Sessions where the indictable charge is read but no plea is taken. The charge is adjourned to another date. The Prosecution must provide to the accused person a statement of material facts and a copy of any statement made by the accused person to the Police.
At the next Court appearance, again before a Magistrate, the accused person has the opportunity to plead. If a plea of guilty is entered, then the person is committed to the District Court or the Supreme Court for sentencing. In the District Court this is called the Fast Track committal procedure. It is designed to bypass lengthy criminal procedure and enable criminal matters to be completed without delay.
If the accused person pleads not guilty the matter is adjourned to an election date. At an election date, the defendant must choose whether or not to have a preliminary hearing. A preliminary hearing is not a trial. It is an inquiry by the Court to determine whether enough evidence exists to put the accused person on trial.
If the accused person elects a preliminary hearing, the inquiry is conducted in the Courts of Petty Sessions. Otherwise, the accused person is committed to the District Court or the Supreme Court for trial.
Disclaimer : This article is just a summary of the subject matter being discussed and should not be regarded as a comprehensive legal advice for you to defend yourself alone. If you are charged with criminal offences, it is recommended that you seek legal assistance from criminal lawyers.