Prior to being heard in the District or Supreme Court a Major Indictable matter is first heard in the Magistrates’ Court in a committal proceeding. A committal proceeding is a hearing where the Magistrates’ Court determines if there is sufficient evidence for a person to be put on trial in the District or Supreme Court. The Magistrate usually makes the determination based on affidavits from witnesses filed by the Director of Public Prosecutions with the court.
There are usually 3 court appearances in the Magistrates’ Court in relation to Major Indictable charges:
At the first appearance the matter is adjourned to the date for declarations which is usually 10 weeks later.
At the date for declarations the Prosecution provide the Defence with statements from all of the witnesses they intend to call. The matter is then adjourned, usually for four weeks, for the Defence to consider the statements provided and conduct any negotiations with the Prosecution.
At the date to answer the charge, once the court is satisfied that there is sufficient evidence to put a person on trial in the District or Supreme Court, you are asked whether you plead guilty or not guilty to each charge.
If you plead guilty to the offences then your matter is usually sent to the District or Supreme Court so that submissions can be made on your behalf before a judge.
If you plead not guilty to the offences then your matter is sent to the District or Supreme Court where you will again be asked to plead guilty or not guilty.
If you plead not guilty the matter will be again adjourned and listed for trial at a later date.