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GOING TO THE MAGISTRATE'S COURT
WHAT TO DO NOW
As soon as you get this notice you should get legal advice. It is important for you to get this advice well before you are due to go to Court.
If you do not see a lawyer before your Court hearing, your case might not be heard until another day.
IF YOU WANT TO SAY YOU ARE NOT GUILTY
If you are pleading not guilty you must let the Court know. Ring the Court at least three days before your Court date and ask for the Court Co-ordinator. Your case will not be heard on the date written in your bail notice, however if you are on bail you must come to Court to apply to have your bail extended.
You will be told the new date and at what Court your case will be heard.
IF YOU WANT TO SAY YOU ARE GUILTY
If you are pleading guilty your case will be heard on the date written in your bail notice, unless you make arrangements with the Court Co-ordinator for it to be heard
on another day.
WHERE CAN YOU APPLY FOR LEGAL AID?
You can apply for legal aid through most lawyers, the Legal Aid Commission, many Community Legal Centres and the Aboriginal Legal Service Co-op.
Not every Court has a duty lawyer for you to speak to on the day of your case. In
some Courts where a duty lawyer is present, he or she may be too busy to take your
case. For this reason it is wise to find other ways of getting legal help before the day
of your Court case.
IF YOU NEED AN INTERPRETER
An interpreter will be at the Court for you if:
If you need to have an interpreter, ask someone to contact the Court Co-ordinator at
least five days before the day of your court case.
- The Prosecutor or the Police Officer who charged you knows that you do not speak English
- You get someone to let the Court Co-ordinator know that you do not speak English.
NOTE THE TIME YOU SHOULD BE AT COURT
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IF YOU HAVE BEEN ARRESTED OR CHARGED
Before your case is heard, you have to decide whether you
will plead not guilty or guilty. You can get advice from:
A lawyer - look under solicitors in the Yellow Pages
Law Institute - legal advice and referral service
(Phone: (03) 602 5000)
The Legal Aid Commission -
Dandenong (03) 9791 5522
Melbourne (03) 9607 0234
Frankston (03) 9783 6855
Morwell (051) 34 8055
Geelong (052) 9 2211
Preston (03) 9478 8844
Glenroy (03) 9306 0122
Sunshine (03) 9311 8611
Your local Community Legal Centre - look under Local
Government in the white pages
Aboriginal Legal Service Co-op ((03) 9419 3888)
The Court Registrar named in your summons.
Traffic Charges - The Legal Aid Commission conducts
workshops to help people who want to plead guilty to traffic
charges and to help them handle their own cases in Court.
Contact the nearest office of the Legal Aid Commission.
It is important for you to get this advice as soon as you
can and well before you are due to go to Court.
WHAT IS A SUMMARY OR AN INDICTABLE OFFENCE?
Your charge-sheet will tell you whether you have been
charged with a 'summary offence' an 'indictable offence' or, a
mixture of these offences.
These offences are only heard in the Magistrates' Court. It is
important for you to come to Court so that the Magistrate
can hear what you have to say. If you are on bail you must
come to Court on the day of your case.
These offences are more serious than summary offences.
You must go to Court on the day of your Court case. If
you cannot go to Court on the day written in your bail notice
you must contact the Court Co-ordinator to see what you
Many indictable offences can be heard by a Magistrate or a
Judge and Jury. You may have to decide whether you want
your case heard by a Magistrate in the Magistrates' Court or
by a Judge and Jury in the County Court. Talk to your lawyer
to see if you have to make this decision. If you decide to
have your case heard in the County Court you will be given a
new date for your Court hearing.
GOING TO COURT
Contact the Co-ordinator at the Court named in your Charge-sheet if you have any questions about where you have to go.
You should be at the Court at least half an hour before the
time written in your Charge-sheet. Go to the counter and let
the Court Clerk know that you have arrived.
Each Magistrates' Court has a Court Co-ordinator who
organises the time and date for cases to be heard. If you
have any problems it is important for you to contact this
If you are bringing character witnesses, please contact the
Court Co-ordinator three days before the day of your
If you cannot come to Court because you have a good
reason or because you cannot get transport, contact the
Court Co-ordinator before the day of your Court case.
You may be able to have your case moved to a different
date and possibly to another Court.
You have two choices when you go to Court:
1. You can plead not guilty
2. You can plead guilty
Remember: You do not have to plead guilty, the choice is
IF YOU WANT TO PLEAD NOT GUILTY
You must let the Court Co-ordinator know that you will be
pleading not guilty and how many witnesses you will be
bringing. You should either telephone or see the Court
Co-ordinator in person at least three days before the day of
your Court case.
Your case will not be heard on the day written in your bail
notice. You will be told of a new date and at what Court your
case will be heard.
You should talk to a lawyer if you want to plead not guilty.
You will not be disadvantaged if you plead not guilty.
Contact the Court Co-ordinator immediately if you decide
to change your plea to guilty.
If you are on bail tell the Court Co-ordinator so that he or
she can tell you how to apply for an extension of your bail
to your new Court date.
IF YOU WANT TO PLEAD GUILTY
If you go to Court on the day written in your bail notice your
case will be heard on that day. The Magistrate may find that
you were guilty and order that a conviction be recorded
against you. This may become a permanent record. You
might find it difficult to get a job or go overseas if you have a
WHAT HAPPENS IN THE COURTROOM?
When your name is called go into the courtroom. You will be
told where to stand. The people already in the courtroom are
the Magistrate, a Court Registrar, the Prosecutor and
members of the public. The person who brought this charge
against you (the Informant) may not be in the courtroom. The
Prosecutor will take his or her place. The charge will be read
out by the Registrar. If you don't understand a charge you
should ask the Magistrate to explain it to you. You should call
the Magistrate either "Your Worship" or "Sir" or "Madam". If
you have been charged with an indictable offence the
Magistrate will ask if you want your case heard in the
Magistrates' Court. The Magistrate will ask if you plead not
guilty or guilty. If you say you are guilty the Prosecutor or the
person who charged you, will give the Magistrate a summary
of the evidence against you (the Defendant). If you agree
with the summary the Magistrate will then listen to what you
or your lawyer has to say on your behalf. The magistrate will
then decide how to deal with you.
If you say you are not guilty to any of these charges, your
case will be put off to another date and possibly another
Court. You will be told of the new date and place for your
IF YOU WANT TO APPEAL AGAINST THE MAGISTRATE'S DECISION
An appeal can be made at the end of your Court case or up
to 30 days from the date of your hearing. the appeal will be
heard in the County Court by a Judge at a later date. You will
be told of this date.
IF YOU DO NOT GO TO COURT
WARNING: If you are on hail and you do not go to Court
on the day of your Court case you may be arrested.
If you have been charged with an indictable offence
You must go to Court on the day of your case. If you are
not at Court, or you have not contacted the Court Co-ordinator you may be arrested.
If you have been charged with a summary offence
It is important for you to be at Court when your case is
heard. If you are not at Court, or have not contacted the
Court Co-ordinator, your case may he put off to another date
and place. If you are on bail and you do not come to
Court you may be arrested.
HOW TO GET TO COURT
If you need to come to Court by public transport, ring the
Transport Information Centre on:
For the Metropolitan area - (03) 9617 0900
Monday-Saturday 7.30am to 8.30pm
Sunday 9.15am to 8.30pm
For Country areas - (03) 62 3115
Monday-Saturday 8.00am to 8.00pm
Sunday 10.00am to 6.00pm
They can tell you what to do and where to catch a train, tram
or bus in the metropolitan or country areas.
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IMPORTANT: DO NOT IGNORE THIS DOCUMENT
If you do not understand it, you should immediately have it interpreted
and explained to you. You may then get advice from:
- A Registrar of the Magistrates' Court
- Your local Solicitor
- Victorian Legal Aid Commission, 179 Queen Street, Melbourne. Tel. 607 0234
[The rest of this page only has translations of the above two paragraphs in: Arabic, Chinese, Greek, Macedonian, Serbian, Turkish, Cambodian, Croatian, Italian, Polish, Spanish, and Vietnamese.]