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Plea of not guilty or contested Hearing

A “Contested hearing” and a “plea of not guilty” mean the same thing. They are essentially the same process as a trial is in the higher courts.

The Prosecution must call evidence first and establish enough evidence against you that the case can be proved. They do this by calling witnesses who give evidence.

The Accused then has the right to give evidence or call witnesses. Often the Accused will not give evidence because their lawyers do not believe that the Prosecution have proved the case against them. That is one of the great features of our system. If a Prosecutor wants to prove something then they have to do it. They have to prove the case beyond reasonable doubt.

Given the imbalance generally in the system towards the Prosecution this is very important. They have the weight of the State and all their resources behind them. If they can’t prove the case why should you have to say anything.

In the Magistrates’ Court there are no juries and so the matter is decided by a Magistrate.

If the Magistrate finds you not guilty there is a discretion to award you payment of your costs. The Magistrate decides whether the Prosecution pay costs or not. Some factors they might take into account are whether you did a “no comment” interview or whether the case was always a weak one.