​ሕግንና ደንብን በተመለከተ እርዳታ ማግኘት ይፈልጋሉን? - Amharic | هل تحتاج لمساعدة قانونية؟ - Arabic | ܤܢܝܼܩܵܐ ܝ݇ܘ̤ܬ ܠܗܲܝܵܪܬܵܐ ܩܵܢܘܿܢܵܝܬܵܐ؟ - Assyrian | Need Legal Help? - Auslan | Treba li vam pravna pomoc? - Bosnian | Burmese â Need Legal Help? | 需要法律帮助吗? - Chinese Simplified | 需要法律幫助嗎? - Chinese Traditional | Trebate li pravnu pomoć? - Croatian | ضرورت به کمک قانونی دارید؟ - Dari | Wïc Kuɔɔny në Wɛ̈t Löŋ? - Dinka | آیا به کمک حقوقی نیاز دارید؟ - Farsi | Gadreva na Veivuke Vakalawa? - Fijian | Kailangan ninyo ba ng tulong na panglegal? - Filipino | Besoin d’aide juridique ? - French | Χρειάζεστε βοήθεια σε νομικά ζητήματα - Greek | क्या आपको कानूनी सलाह चाहिए? - Hindi | Butuhkan Bantuan dalam Masalah Hukum? - Indonesian | Hai bisogno di assistenza legale? - Italian | ត្រូវការជំនួយលើបញ្ហាផ្លូវច្បាប់ឬទេ? - Khmer | 법적인 도움이 필요하십니까? - Korean | Ви треба ли помош со правни работи? - Macedonian | कानूनी सहयोग चाहिएको छ? - Nepalese | Necessita de ajuda com questões jurídicas? - Portuguese | Вам нужна юридическая помощь? - Russian | E Manaomia Fesoasoani i Mea Tau Tulafono? - Samoan | а ли вам треба помоћ у правним питањима? - Serbian | Ma u baahan tahay Caawimmad xagga sharciga ah?- Somali | ¿Necesita ayuda con cuestiones jurídicas? - Spanish | சட்ட உதவி தேவையா? - Tamil | ท่านต้องการความช่วยเหลือทางด้านกฎหมายไหม? - Thai | Fiema’u ha tokoni Fakalao? - Tongan | Yasal Danışmaya İhtiyacınız mı var? - Turkish | Cần Được Giúp Đỡ Về Luật Pháp? - Vietnamese |

At the hearing

When you go to a hearing, both you and the prosecution can present evidence to the court. Once all the evidence has been presented to the court, both sides get a chance to sum up their case. 

    ​​Who goes first?

    The prosecutor will usually go first. They may begin their case by briefly telling the magistrate about the case, or they may start by calling their first witness.

    All witnesses are required to sit outside the courtroom. When their name is called, they will be asked to go into the witness box and take an oath or affirmation.

    After the prosecutor has presented all their evidence, the magistrate will decide whether there is a case against you. This is sometimes referred to as 'a case to answer'. If the magistrate believes that the prosecution has not provided sufficient evidence to convict you, the case will end there and you will be found not guilty.  If the magistrate believes there is a case for you to answer, you will be given a chance to give your evidence.

    When it is your turn, you can give a short summary of your case known as an opening address or you can call your first witness (usually yourself).

    For more information, you should watch the video below.

    You can also read a transcript of this video Microsoft Word Icon(31 kb).

    ​​This video is available with the audio description​.

    Questioning witnesses

    You may have to:

    • Question a prosecution witness
    • Question your own witness
    • Re-question a witness

    Questioning a prosecution witness
    A prosecutor will question their own witnesses before you do. This is called 'examination in chief'. After the witness has been questioned by the prosecutor you will have a chance to question the witness. This is called 'cross-examination'.

    When a witness is being cross-examined, they can be asked leading questions. When asking the witness questions, you should:

    • ask the witness questions about your version of events
    • ask them questions that show that their evidence is not consistent or does not make sense, for example, if there are any important differences between what they wrote in their statement and what they have said in the witness box
    • use direct questions that require a 'yes' or 'no' answer.

    Here are some ways you can ask questions:

    • "You actually couldn't see how close my vehicle was to the other vehicle because there was a bush in the way, isn't that correct?"
    • 'You mentioned in your statement that you couldn't see who was driving and now you have just given evidence that you could see clearly. Did you lie to police?'
    • "You didn't hear me slurring my words did you?"
    • 'I actually paid for the television, didn't I?"

    Make sure that you only ask one question at a time and give the witness time to respond. For example:

    • "Did you arrive at the hotel at 9pm?"
    • "Did you arrive with my brother John Smith?"

    Don't interrupt the witness when they are responding to your questions. If they are not answering your questions you can ask the magistrate to tell them to. You can also make some notes of anything you want to comment on or clarify, and ask them when they finish answering.

    You should not speak rudely or abusively to or about the prosecutor's witnesses. Stick to the facts and the evidence. Be calm and polite.

    Ask the witness questions to clarify issues or to confirm their evidence. For example: "You said you know I was speeding, how can you be sure?" and "What speed was I driving at?"

    Icon - alert  If the witness's evidence contradicts evidence you will present to the court, you should raise this with the witness during the cross-examination and give them the chance to respond. 

    For more information, you should watch the video below.

    You can also read a transcript of this video Microsoft Word Icon(36 kb).

    ​​This video is available with the audio description​.

    Questioning your own witness
    If you have any witnesses, it is a good idea to issue a subpoena to make sure they come to the hearing to give evidence.

    You will question your witnesses before the prosecuto​r has the chance to cross-examine them. You can ask the witness a series of questions to allow the witness to give their story to the court.

    When you are questioning your own witnesses, you should start by asking the witness to tell the court their name, address and occupation. Once the witness has given that information, you could:

    • ask the witness to tell the court what happened on the day of the incident, for example "Can you tell the court what happened on 12 June 2013?"
    • ask the witness questions to clarify issues or to confirm their evidence, for example: "You said you know I wasn't speeding, how can you be sure?" and "What speed was I driving at?"

    Your questions should allow the witness to give their evidence in their own words. The prosecutor may object if you try to lead the witness to give a certain answer.

    If you did not ask for a prosecution witness to attend the hearing when you filled out a listing advice, the prosecutor may try to tender (present to the court) the statement of the witness. If the court agrees, this means that the statement will become evidence for the prosecution case. Make sure you check that any statement the prosecution wants to tender is the same as the one in the police brief of evidence (if you were given one).

    Once you have finished asking your witness questions, the prosecutor may cross-examine them.

    For more information, you should watch the video below.

    You can also read a transcript of this video Microsoft Word Icon(43 kb).

    ​​This video is available with the audio description​.

    Re-questioning a witness
    At the end of the cross-examination of a witness, you (or the prosecutor) may decide to re-examine the witness. This is known as re-examination.

    Re-examination only happens where necessary. For example, you (or the prosecutor) may need to ask questions to clear up any issues raised during cross-examination. The witness shouldn't be asked questions about anything they were not cross-examined about.        

    Giving evidence yourself

    You don't have to give evidence. The decision about whether to give evidence yourself can be complex, and if you are not sure that giving evidence is in your best interests, you should get legal advice.

    If you decide to give evidence, you will have to stand next to the witness box and make an 'oath' or 'affirmation'. Both are promises to tell the truth. An oath has a religious meaning and an affirmation does not.

    You can then tell the court your version of what happened, and why you believe you are not guilty. The magistrate may ask you to explain some things in more detail. The magistrate may also ask you to move on to another point if they feel they have heard enough about an issue or that what you are saying is not relevant to your case.

    If you decide to give evidence, the prosecutor will have the opportunity to cross-examine you and your evidence. When the prosecutor is asking you questions, you should:

    • listen carefully and think about each question before you answer
    • ask the question to be repeated if you don't understand
    • admit if you don't know the answer to a question
    • speak loudly, clearly and slowly
    • give exact details, for example if a conversation took place tell the court the exact words that were used.

    Try not to get angry, even if the prosecutor is rude or aggressive.

    For more information, you should watch the video below.

    You can also read a transcript of this video Microsoft Word Icon(40 kb).

    ​This video is available with the audio description​.

    Other evidence

    If you want the court to see evidence other than that from witnesses, you can make it an 'exhibit'. An exhibit is physical evidence, such as a document, photo or object, that is tendered (given to the court).

    Physical evidence usually needs to be identified by a witness who created it or knows where it came from before it can be tendered. When the witness gives evidence in the witness box, the evidence can be identified. For example, if the evidence is a photo, the witness can give evidence about:

    • where they took the photo
    • when they took the photo.

    If you want to ask a witness some questions about a piece of evidence, but they were not involved in its creation, you can ask that the evidence be 'marked for identification' (MFI). This means that the evidence can be identified by another witness later but you can ask other witnesses questions about it. The evidence will not be tendered and become an exhibit until the witness who was responsible for creating it gives their evidence later in the hearing.

    For example, if you wanted a witness to give evidence about a photo, but they did not take it, you could say to the magistrate something like:

    'I have a photograph I want to show to the witness. Could it be marked for identification, Your Honour?'

    Icon - alert  You should be given an opportunity to examine any exhibit before it is tendered or marked for identification by the prosecution. If the prosecution tries to tender it without showing you, you can ask the magistrate to have a look at it. 

    Summing up 

    After all the evidence has been presented, you and the prosecutor will be given a chance to summarise your evidence and arguments. The prosecutor will go first, then it will be your turn.

    You should summarise the evidence that supports your case and explain to the magistrate why you think they should accept your version of events. If there are gaps, mistakes or things that don't make sense in the prosecutor's case you should mention these. You should not introduce any new evidence during your summing up.

    Checklist: Checklist: summing up.

    For more information, you should watch the video below.

    You can also read a transcript of this video Microsoft Word Icon(37 kb)​.

    ​​This video is available with the audio description​.