Charged for a criminal matter?
Going to court is a scary experience, and the procedures are often hard to understand. We’ve got a wealth of experience preparing clients for Court appearances with strategic legal advice and legal representation.
It’s often hard to find a lawyer at short notice. To help you, we’ve put together some useful tips to prepare you for your first appearance in a Magistrates Court.
What type of matters do Magistrates Courts deal with?
The Magistrates Court deals with a variety of criminal offences, including:
- Minor offences such as disorderly behaviour or shoplifting
- Less serious offences such as traffic infringements
- Serious offences such as burglary, assault, fraud and drugs
- Some minor family law matters (although most go to the Family Court)
- Minor civil law matters
- Applications for child protection orders
- Domestic violence matters
- Some other Commonwealth matters
What should I do before going to Court?
Your matter has been scheduled to be heard in the Magistrates Court, so what do you do before going to court?
- Find the court’s address and plan the easiest journey to get there. When organising your journey, plan to arrive at the court early so you have time to register your arrival at the court counter
- Prepare any paperwork that is needed, and pack a pen and note paper to take with you
- Make any preparations necessary to allocate a whole day for your hearing. You may be at court all day depending on the number of matters before the court, so it is important to make arrangements to clear any prior commitments (for example, requesting time off work, organising child care, etc.)
- Prepare a smart and neat-looking outfit to wear to court
What should I do when I arrive at court?
You’ve just arrived at court for your first appearance, what do you do?
- Talk to the staff at the front counter to:
- Tell them your name
- Find out which courtroom your case will be in (this information will also be on the daily list which is displayed on noticeboards or TV screens in the waiting areas)
- Ask for an interpreter (if you need one)
- Get a copy of your QP9 (this is the summary the police have prepared about your alleged offence). To get this, ask a duty lawyer or a police prosecutor.
- Wait for your name to be called by the court clerk. You can wait at the back of the courtroom or outside in the foyer.
What should I do inside the courtroom?
There are a number of rules that regulate how you should behave inside the courtroom.
So what should I do and not do once inside the courtroom?
When inside a courtroom, you should:
- Turn off your mobile phone
- Sit quietly – do not talk, comment or make noise if you are watching from the public gallery
- Stand whenever the magistrate or judge enters or leaves the courtroom (the depositions clerk or bailiff will call ‘all rise’)
- Bow your head to acknowledge the magistrate or judge every time they enter or leave the room
- Call the magistrate or judge ‘Your Honour’
When inside a courtroom, you shouldn’t:
- Drink, eat or chew gum
- Smoke (in a courtroom or anywhere in the courthouse)
- Wear a hat or sunglasses
- Speak to any jurors (if it is a jury trial)
- Make any audio or visual recordings
- Broadcast the trial in any way
For more details on the criminal court process and how you should behave in court, take a look at the detailed information on the LegalAid Queensland website.
When my court appearance is over, what should I do next?
If you have appeared in court in relation to criminal charges and you have been granted bail, you should ensure that you go to the Court registry before you leave to sign your bail undertaking. You will then receive a copy to take with you. If you have already been granted bail and your bail has been enlarged you will only need to attend the registry if your bail conditions have changed.
Once you’ve attended your court date and have your QP9, the best course of action is seek legal advice.
Why should I seek legal advice?
A lawyer will be able to tell you:
- the consequences of what you’ve been charged with
- what the law says
- identify elements that you have not considered
- give you legal advice on the best approach in dealing with your charge.
Need a Brisbane-based criminal defence or traffic lawyer?
When you call our office, speak with our Client Engagement Team. They will be able to quickly assess your matter, identify a suitable member of our Criminal Law Team depending on the severity of your charge and provide efficient service in getting your matter assisted with expediently.