Frequently asked questions
Which court will deal with my case?
Lower level offences are dealt with in the Magistrates Court whilst more serious offences are dealt with by the District Court or Supreme Court.
Will there be a jury?
In the Magistrates Court all aspects of the case are dealt with by a judge alone. If you plead not guilty, it will be a judge that hears the evidence and determines whether you are guilty or not guilty. If you plead guilty (or are found guilty), it will be a judge that sentences you.
If you plead not guilty in the District Court or Supreme Court, it is a jury that will hear the evidence and determine whether you are guilty or not guilty. If you plead guilty (or are found guilty), it will be a judge that sentences you.
Will I go to prison?
This depends on many factors. For some offences imprisonment is not an option for the court. For other offences, imprisonment is mandatory. For many offences, the court has a discretion as to whether to pass a custodial sentence (i.e. send you to prison) and in deciding how to exercise that discretion will take into account all relevant circumstance.
Will I have a criminal record
All convictions go on your criminal record. This includes traffic convictions such as drink driving, but excludes infringements such as illegal parking and minor speeding offences. However, you may be able to apply for a conviction to be 'spent', in which case it will not appear on your National Police Certificate and is not disclosable in most situations.
Related article: Criminal records need not be a life sentence