​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 |

Pleading not guilty

    ​​ Alert IconDefending a fine can be complicated. Sometimes what you think is a defence is only an explanation. If you are not sure if you have a defence you should get legal advice.

    The mention

    The first time you have to go to court is called a 'mention'.

    If you decide to plead not guilty at the mention, your case will not be dealt with on that date. A registrar or magistrate will list your case for a hearing on another day or you may need to attend another mention before the hearing date is set.

    You will need to tell the court:

    • how many witnesses you will be calling (including yourself)
    • any days that you or your witnesses are not available
    • if you, or any of your witnesses need an interpreter.

    This will help the court to work out when to schedule the hearing and how long the hearing will take. The hearing may be some weeks or months in the future, depending on how busy the court is and when witnesses are available.

    Once a hearing date has been set, it can be very difficult to change this date. If you ask for the hearing to be adjourned (postponed), the court may make a costs order against you.

    For more information about costs, see Costs in fine cases.

    For more information about what happens at the mention, see Mention.

    You can also watch the video below to learn what to do and say when you go to court to plead not guilty. 

    You can also read a transcript of this video (34 kb).

    ​​This video is available with the audio description

    Pleading not guilty in writing​

    If you know you want to plead not guilty, but you can't get to court for the mention, you can fill out a form that tells the court you want to plead not guilty. This is called a 'Written Notice of Pleading'.

    Alert IconIf you want to send the court a Written Notice of Pleading you must do so at least seven days before your court date. There is no guarantee that a court will accept a Written Notice of Pleading.

    You cannot use a Written Notice of Pleading if you are on bail for the offence and your bail conditions require that you attend court.

    For more information, see Pleading not guilty in writing.

    Preparing for the hearing

    Before you go to court for the hearing you will need to prepare your case. You should consider whether you need to:

    • gather any photos or other evidence
    • view any photos or videos held by the police or relevant prosecutor
    • issue any subpoenas.

    Step by step guide: Preparing for the hearing - Step by step guide.

    Changing your plea

    If you entered a plea of not guilty at the mention or in writing, you can change your plea to guilty before the hearing. If you change your plea on the day of the hearing you may be ordered to pay the costs of the prosecution attending the hearing.

    If you want to try and avoid these costs, you can file an Application to Vacate a Hearing Date.

    For a copy of the application form, go to the Local Courts website.

    Before you apply to vacate a hearing date, you should get legal advice.

    If you entered a plea of guilty, you would need to have special circumstances to change your plea to not guilty. If you want to do this, you should get legal advice.

    Presenting your case at the hearing

    When the hearing starts, a number of things may happen:

    • the magistrate may listen to any issues
    • the prosecutor will call their first witness and ask them questions (called 'examination in chief')
    • you will then be allowed to ask the witness some questions (called 'cross-examination')
    • the prosecutor might ask the witness some further questions about anything raised in cross-examination (called 're-examination')
    • the above process will be repeated with the rest of the prosecution's witnesses
    • you can give evidence
    • you may be cross examined
    • you can call any witnesses to give evidence
    • your witnesses may be cross examined
    • you can re-examine your witnesses
    • the prosecutor can summarise their evidence and arguments
    • you can summarise your evidence and arguments
    • the magistrate will make a decision.

    Step by step guide: Presenting your case at the hearing - Step by step guide.

    Case study

    ​​Case study - Charlie and the policeCase study icon

    Charlie was driving along the highway when there was an accident in front of him. The car in front of Charlie rear-ended another car and Charlie knocked into the car immediately in front of his car. A police officer attended the scene and Charlie was fined for negligent driving. The police officer says that Charlie failed to keep a proper lookout and failed to keep a safe distance from the car in front. Charlie thinks that he did everything he could to drive safely and that the accident could not have been prevented. Charlie has chosen (elected) to challenge the fine in court.​

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    Picture of defendant giving evidence in witness box