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What to do on the first day in court?

Video Transcript

This video is about what to do if you are unrepresented and you’re going to court for a criminal or traffic matter.

Now the first thing you should do is to get your materials together early.

Now by materials I mean any character references, any letters of apology, any other documents which will support your case and they should especially be put together if you intend to plead guilty and to have the matter disposed off, that is finalised on that day.

So get your materials together very early before the court date.

Now the second thing you should do is arrive early.

Now to arrive early, arrive around about the 9am mark, you go into the courtroom, you get a feel of the courthouse, you get a feel of where each of the courtrooms within the courthouse are, you can see if there’s any registration desk where there may be a court officer sitting down and where people may be lining up to register themselves for matters, you will see where any public notice board is and the public notice board will be where all the court matters are listed.

So get there early, have a look around, have a walk around.

The third thing you should do is check the court list.

Now as I’ve said in the public area in the courthouse there will be court lists, big pieces of paper and your matter will be in that court list.

It will say what number you are, it’ll say which court room you’re in.

So have a look at what number you are, have a look at which courtroom you’re in, and find that courtroom.

Now as I’ve said there may be a registration desk.

That’s a fourth thing.

So if there’s a registration desk, that is someone sitting down at a table and people lining up to register their cases then get in the line and go to the person at the head of the line and tell them your name and they’ll tell you exactly what to do.

Your case may have changed courtrooms, or it may be coming up later in the day.

So just speak to the person at the registration desk, tell them what you’re doing, if you’re pleading guilty or not guilty.

They’ll tell you what to do.

Then when the courtroom opens go into the courtroom.

Now normally the magistrate won’t be sitting in the courtroom when it opens, but if the magistrate is and the magistrate is the person at the front of the room in the elevated area, then you bow down to the magistrate when you walk into the courtroom, you then sit down in the public area and that will be immediately upon entering the courtroom it will be there on your left and on your right so you sit down.

Now here across the road in the Downing Centre normally the first court date will be in courtroom 4.4 on level 4, or courtroom 4.5 which is also on level 4.

They’re obviously next to each other.

So go up to level 4 there.

So you sit there, you listen to the private practitioners, the private lawyers because that will normally be the ones that go up first.

So by listening to them you’ll get an idea what needs to be done, what the magistrate likes, what’s your supposed to say.

Those types of things.

So you listen to the private lawyers talk to the magistrate and what the magistrate says.

When your number is called then you walk up to the microphone.

So walk up there the magistrate will say are you X person you say yes or no as the case may be, the magistrate will say do you intend to plead guilty or not guilty, you’ll tell the magistrate what you’re pleading.

Now if you’re pleading not guilty the magistrate will either A adjourn the matter, that is put it to another date down the track, two weeks, four weeks, six weeks down the track to enable police to give you all their materials and their statements, any documents from witnesses, that is people who who’ve seen the incident or other people and the magistrate may adjourn it to another date for that to occur.

So you can get those materials and go through them.

If it’s a small matter a minor matter, a small matter, the magistrate may set it down for a hearing straightaway.

What that means is the magistrate may give you a date, a month, or two, or longer down the track where the witnesses are required to come to court and they have to go up on the stand and they have to give their version of the events.

You will also have the opportunity on that day to go up on the stand and give your version of events, and the magistrate will say if you’re guilty or not guilty.

So that’s what happens if you intend to plead not guilty.

Now if you plead guilty you may want the matter dealt with there and then.

Video transcription by YouTube

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