Offences in the Summary Jurisdiction are considered to be less serious and so summary charges are usually heard and determined in the Magistrates’ Court by a single Magistrate.
Some offences, although part of the Indictable jurisdiction, can be recommended to be heard summarily, and your case will be determined by a single Magistrate. While there is no jury, the Magistrate’s maximum sentencing is restricted and the whole process will be faster and less expensive.
At Hutchinson Legal, our lawyers are experienced in running summary offence matters at the Magistrates’ Court and can provide you with the assistance in either contesting or resolving your matters.
If you are charged summarily, you can likely expect the following process:
This is the first hearing before the Magistrate. Negotiations to resolve the matter can occur between the Prosecution and Defence at any time before or on the Mention Date. If these negotiations are successful and the charges are withdrawn, or you choose to plead guilty, the Court may determine the matter on this day.
A Sentencing Indication can occur at any time during the process, during which the Magistrate will provide an indication as to the likely sentence.
This is a fixed hearing in which you can formally enter a plea of guilty. The Magistrate will then hear submissions by the Prosecution and Defence about the mitigating circumstances of your case and what may be appropriate sentencing.
A contest mention will be scheduled if you plead not guilty or if your matter is unresolved and will go to a contested hearing.
The Prosecution are required to demonstrate to the Court that they have sufficient evidence to prove the charges against you. However, your charges may be withdrawn.
The Magistrate may give an indication of the sentence you may receive if you choose to plead guilty at this time. You are not obliged to plead guilty, but if you are ultimately found guilty, this may affect your sentence.
You will need to inform the court if witnesses are to be called and if you wish to dispute the police evidence.
During a Contested Hearing, you can formally enter a plea of not guilty. At this time, the Magistrate will consider all of the evidence before the Court to determine if you are guilty of the charge(s).
During a Sentencing Hearing, the Magistrate will issue their finding of guilt and order an appropriate sentence.
A sentence can be delivered on the same day as a guilty plea or finding of guilt, however, when the Magistrate must consider tendered materials or a Community Corrections assessment, they will adjourn the matter and give their determination at a later date.
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