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Appearing in court

You’ll first appear to enter a plea. If you plead not guilty, you’ll appear again at a later date. If you plead guilty, you’ll either be sentenced immediately or appear later for sentencing.

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    For civil cases, they decide on claims of up to $200,000.

    In criminal cases they cover minor offences, but can also conduct trials for some serious offences, such as rape and aggravated robbery.

    You’re charged with an offence

    If police or another prosecuting authority believe you have committed an offence, you might be:​

    • arrested and given police bail — this means you’ll be released but will have to appear at court when required
    • taken to court
    • given a summons telling you when you need to go to court.

    Your rights with Police

    Charged with a crime

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    Get a lawyer

    Whatever you’ve been charged with, it’s a good idea to get legal help.

    If you can’t afford a lawyer, you can apply for legal aid to help pay for one.

    Legal aid

    For minor charges, you may be able to use a duty lawyer at court on the day you’ve been told to appear.

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    Your first appearance in court

    Your summons or Notice of Bail will let you know when you need to be at court.

    In the courtroom

    If you plead guilty, you might be sentenced straight away, or you might be told to come back again on another date. If you plead not guilty, you’ll have a hearing and/or a trial at a future date.

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    If there’s a trial

    There are 2 types of trials:

    • judge alone
    • judge and jury.

    Whether there’s a jury at your trial depends on the type of crime you’re charged with.

    All trials follow the same stages:

    • judge’s opening remarks
    • the prosecution’s case
    • the defence’s case
    • closing speeches and summing up
    • jury considers the case and makes a decision
    • verdict.

    Types of trials

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    After the verdict

    If you’ve pleaded guilty or you have been found guilty, you’ll be sentenced. If you’re found not guilty or discharged without conviction, you’ll be free to go.

    If you’re convicted of a crime, you’ll usually need to pay:

    • court costs on each charge
    • an offender levy.

    Court costs

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    If you’re found guilty, the judge might ask for extra reports to help them decide what sentence to give you.

    While you wait to find out your sentence, you might be held on remand in prison, or you’ll be remanded to live at a specified address.

    After you’ve been sentenced

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    Serve your sentence

    For minor charges, most people serve a community sentence, such as home detention or community work. For more serious charges, you may be sent to prison.

    Prison life and going to prison

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