Supreme Court

www.supremecourt.vic.gov.au

The Supreme Court Daily Listings

The general way that matters end up in the Supreme Court is where a person has been through committal proceedings at the Magistrates’ or Children’s Court. Normally only the most serious of cases are heard in the Supreme Court (e.g. murder cases must be heard in the Supreme Court).

The Supreme Court also can decide bail applications where bail has been refused by a lower Court.

The Supreme Court can also hear appeals on points of law and has a number of other functions that relate to criminal matters.

Case conference
Directions hearing
Trial
Guilty Plea
Sentencing

A brief explanation of the above terms follows. This is just to give you a general idea about the terms and flow of cases. It can not be a substitute for talking to a lawyer about your case but it will assist you and save you time if you have some grasp of these processes.

At the end of the committal hearing in the Magistrates’ or Children’s Court a Plea of Not Guilty or Reserved is entered, the accused is Remanded or Bailed to a Directions Hearing date.

If the accused enters a Plea of Guilty at the committal hearing, a plea date is set in consultation with the parties.

Directions Hearing

Directions hearings are pre-trial procedures designed to require practitioners to provide to the Court information relevant to the running of the criminal trials. They are essentially a procedural step that helps the Court to manage their lists efficiently. They are heard before a Judge and will require the appearance of the Defendant and his lawyers.

Case conference

Generally, case conferences are heard a week prior to the Directions Hearing date and are conducted by the Criminal Coordinator at the Criminal Trial Listing Directorate (CTLD)Lawyers from the Prosecution and Defence are required to attend. The aim is to set a date for a a plea or a trial hearing.

The defence are required to file answers to a number of questions which will effect the length and running of the plea/ trial.

Trial

A trial is where the case against the accused is put before a jury of twelve people who decide on the facts of the case. The prosecution get all their witnesses to come along and give evidence and produce any other evidence that they have in their possession.

A defendant can give evidence (tell their version of events) at their trial if they want to but they are not obliged to do so.

Trials have a lot of procedure surrounding them, such as selecting a jury, and they inevitably will go for a number of days. Depending on the complexity of the matter and the number of witnesses they can continue for long periods of time.

Guilty plea

Is where a plea of guilty is entered and then submissions are made on your behalf by your lawyer. Obviously the more positive things that can be put on your behalf the better result you will get. It is important to get character references from your work and references from people who know you well and can talk about your positive characteristics.

At a guilty plea the accused can tell the Judge how the offending occurred and other people who know the defendant can speak on their behalf. If the defendant has other issues (for example, medical or psychological) witnesses can give evidence or reports be given to the Court.

Sentencing

Often the Judge will want to have a think about what penalty he is going to impose. The matter will be adjourned to a later date and they will then “sentence” the defendant on that date. It is not normally the case that any further submissions will be made on that date.