What is a Committal Mention Hearing?
Committal mention hearings are a complex and often crucially important part of the legal process. The following article explains what a committal mention hearing is, what occurs, and the possible outcomes.
The committal mention hearing is a Court appearance where a number of decisions need to be told to the Magistrate. Are you pleading guilty at the committal mention? Are you pleading not guilty and having a contested committal? Have you filed a Form 32? Do the prosecution agree to the witnesses you want called to give evidence? Do you have subpoenas returnable at the committal mention?
If we want to contest charges and have a contested committal we will have filed a “Form 32” before the committal mention. A “form 32” tells the prosecutors what witnesses you want to call at the actual committal. You can also ask for other documents to be provided. The Form 32 is part of the process of the Prosecution and the Defence lawyers discussing the matter prior to the committal mention. Discussions will take place as to whether the case can be resolved in one way or another.
At the committal mention there will be a discussion with the Magistrate as to whether the prosecution object to you calling those witnesses and then discussion about booking the matter in for a committal (eg length of committal, availability of witnesses etc).
At committal mention you can apply for the matter to be heard in the Magistrates’ Court, if possible or the Prosecution may withdraw the charges
If the matter is going to be a plea of guilty, then a date would be obtained from the County or Supreme Court for a plea and the matter would be adjourned by the Magistrate to that date. Sometimes you will continue on through the process to a contested committal even if you are pleading guilty. It can be useful to call witnesses to clarify the exact basis of your plea.
After a Committal Mention
If the matter is booked in for a committal it may be booked in for a number of days depending on the number of witnesses or complexity of the issues.
The matter then goes off from the committal mention to the committal date although sometimes and in the more complicated matters a special mention will be ordered between the committal mention and the contested committal. The aim of that special hearing would be to make sure that witnesses were all available or that funding was in place etc.
Committal mentions are generally simple hearing in Court but require a lot of work and thought prior to them. They become more complex if there are arguments about documents that we have asked for or witnesses that we want called to give evidence.
It is essential that you have got a lawyer well in advance and instructed them fully so that they can get the best outcome for you.