There are various offences which are unable to be finalised in the Local Court, and must be referred or committed to a higher court such as the District or Supreme Court. Theses offences are commonly referred as ‘strictly indictable’ offences.
Certain offences that fall in the category of ‘Table 1’ offences can be elected by the DPP or defence to commit to a higher court.
If you have pleaded not guilty to the charge and your case is committed to a higher court, it will ultimately proceed to a trial before a jury.
Below is a basic guide to the main steps in the District or Supreme Court trial.
- Arraignment- where each count on the indictment is read out by the Judges Associate and you say either ‘guilty’ or ‘not guilty’. Given that matter is proceeding to trial, you would be saying ‘not guilty’.
- Jury empanelment- this is where the Judges Associate pick numbers from a box that is associated to a juror. Ultimately, 12 people will be picked as the members of jury
- Crown opening- The Crown Prosecutor will give a general outline of the case against you
- Defence opening- this is optional to defence and again will be a general outline of defence case
- Crown case- the crown will commence its case against you, witnesses will be called and your lawyer will get an opportunity to cross examine these witnesses
- Close of crown case- the crown case formally concludes against you
- No case submissions- If the crown case was weak against you, your lawyer can ask the judge at this stage to ‘direct an acquittal’, to tell the jury that it must find you not guilty
- Defence case- you have the option not to give evidence as a witness at your own trial. You also can have your own witnesses give evidence
- Crown closing- the crown summarises the evidence in the trial and outlines the elements of the offences.
- Defence closing- the crown summarises the evidence in the trial and creates a reasonable doubt about the elements of the offences
- Judge summing up- the judge summaries key points and witness’s evidence
- Directions- The judge will explain the relevant law to the jury and how they can relate to the case
- Jury deliberations- majority verdict can be given, meaning that whereby all except one juror can agree on a verdict, for example- 11 guilty and 1 not guilty, then the jury can return a verdict of guilty.
- Verdict- once the jury has informed the court that they have reached a verdict, the court will re-convene and the foreperson will stand up and give the verdict
- Sentencing- if you are found guilty, the matter will be set down for sentencing to a later date