“Summary Crime” is a term used to describe a case that is to be heard and finalised in the Magistrates’ Court. Summary crime is less serious than “indictable crime” which is a term used to describe a case to be finalised in the County or Supreme Court. A case in the Magistrates’ Court either start with a Charge and Summons or you are Charged and Bailed. Charge and Summons means that you were given the charges after the date of the alleged incident. If you are on Charge and Summons it is often easier to have your case adjourned in your absence (depending on the circumstances). If you are on Bail then you must turn up to Court on every date your matter is listed. You would have signed a bail bond at the Police Station or at Court if you are on bail.
Police Charges are the list of charges against you, whether it is a Summons or Bail matter. Every criminal case, no matter how serious, starts with police charges – it is a general term to describe the fact someone is facing one or more criminal charges. Whether you call them Police Charges or something else does not affect which Court that the case is heard in.
There are limits to what kinds of charges can be heard in the Magistrates’ Court. If you look on the first page of the charge sheets it will state whether your case is listed for a “filing hearing” or just for a “mention”. If your case is not starting as a “filing hearing” then it is likely to be heard in the Magistrates’ Court.
If you are unsure of whether you are on a charge and summons or bail, then it is always wise to assume you are on bail and turn up to each Court date.
Many serious allegations like sexual offending, serious violence or commercial drug charges do not finish in the Magistrates’ Court. They start there but they do not finish there. The Magistrate does not have the power to hear the case and sentence you, even if they wanted to.
If yours is the sort of case that will be heard in the Magistrates’ Court then press “next”.
If you have a “filing hearing” go back and take the committal tour.