At the first appearance, the accused person is called by the Court Orderly to appear before the Court, and the charge is read aloud. The Prosecutor may be a specially trained Police Officer, or a lawyer from the office of the Director of Public Prosecutions, who represents the Crown. Once the charge is read, the accused person may enter a plea of guilty or not guilty.
Sometimes, the accused person will not enter a plea and will be granted an adjournment to seek legal advice.
If a guilty plea is entered, the prosecutor proceeds to read the facts of the case. This is a statement of facts relating to the charges against the accused person. The Prosecutor will inform the Magistrate of any previous criminal convictions recorded against the accused and may present a victim impact statement.
After the facts have been read, the accused person or Defence Counsel forthe accused may enter a “plea in mitigation”. This is an opportunity for the accused person to tell the Magistrate about any personal circumstances that may affect sentencing.
Such factors may include the accused person’s age, upbringing, position in society, employment history, remorse and any apologies for the criminal behaviour. The Magistrate then decides on the most appropriate penalty.
If a not guilty plea is entered, the Magistrate will adjourn the case to a future trial date. The accused person is remanded on bail or in custody until the 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.