​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 |

Preparing for the hearing - Step by step guide

Going to court, especially for the first time, can be confusing and you may be nervous. The best way to make sure you are prepared for court is to be organised.

Before the hearing you should:

Step-by-step guide icon

​Preparing for t​​he hearing - step by step guide

​Step 1: Get l​​egal advice

You can either represent yourself at court, or you can get a private solicitor. You should arrange to get some legal advice as soon as possible, as it may take some time before you can see or speak to a lawyer.

You may be able to get legal advice from:

  • Legal Aid NSW
    Legal Aid is generally not available to represent people at court for minor offences or traffic matters, but you may be able to get some free legal advice at Legal Aid NSW.
  • Aboriginal Legal Service
    If you are Aboriginal or a Torres Strait Islander you may be able to get legal advice from the Aboriginal Legal Service.
  • LawAccess NSW
    You can call LawAccess NSW on 1300 888 529 to get free legal information and referrals to the most appropriate service for you, or go to the LawA​ccess NSW website.

Step 2: Gather yo​ur evidence

Before the hearing you should make sure you prepare your case and gather all the evidence you want to use to defend your case.

You can use all sorts of evidence at the hearing, including photographs, diagrams, In Car Video (ICV) and closed circuit television (CCTV) footage. You should give yourself plenty of time to get photos or look at videos.

If you want to use electronic evidence, such as videos or sound recordings, you should contact the court as soon as possible before the hearing to make sure that the equipment you need is available on the day.

For more information, see Evidence.

Hint iconWhen you present your evidence to the court, the court will decide whether that evidence is 'admissible'. For more information about admissible evidence, see Gathering evidence.

Step 3: Ask for an adjo​urnment (if you need one)

Sometimes you or the defendant may need to ask the court to postpone the hearing to another date. This is called an 'adjournment'.

The magistrate may not agree to this unless there is a good reason. There may be an adjournment if either you or the prosecutor, or an important witness, has a good reason for not being able to make it to the hearing.

Alert IconIf the magistrate does agree to an adjournment, they will often make a costs order against the party who needed the adjournment. For more information, see Costs in fine cases.

It is often very difficult to get an adjournment on the hearing day. You should file an Application to vacate a hearing date as soon as you know you need an adjournment.

Step 4: Arrange su​​bpoenas

You may be able to get some of the evidence you want to rely on yourself or you may have to ask the prosecutor. In some cases you may need to issue a 'subpoena' (pronounced supeena). A subpoena is an order from the court to a person (or organisation) to bring documents to court or attend court to give evidence on a certain date, or both.

Step by Step Guide:  Subpoenas - Step by step guide.

Step 5: Plan what to t​ake to court

You should take the following things with you to the hearing:

  • your fine (penalty notice) and/or CAN
  • any photos, ICV or CCTV footage you have
  • copies of police incident reports, if any
  • your witnesses
  • any other evidence or documents that support your version of events
  • your notes for speaking to the magistrate
  • a notebook and pen to make notes
  • highlighters and post-it notes to mark important information.

You may also want to take some character references with you, in case you are found guilty and the magistrate has to decide whether to fine you and the amount of the fine.

Instructions:  Instructions for preparing a character reference.

Sample:Sample character reference.

Hint icon You should take the original and three copies of any documents, for example character references, you intend to show the court. The original will be kept by the court. You will need to give one copy to the prosecutor, keep one for your records and have a spare.

Step 6: Plan what you are going to say in court

When you are at the hearing, the prosecutor will try to prove beyond reasonable doubt that you committed the offence. They will not usually have to prove that you intended to commit the offence, only that you did it. This is referred to as 'strict liability'.

For some offences, the use of photographic or other documentary evidence will be enough to prove that you committed the offence. For example:

  • a speed camera photograph
  • a photograph taken showing a parking offence
  • a certificate issued by police showing a blood alcohol reading greater than the legal limit.

To successfully defend these sorts of cases, you would have to show that there is other evidence that raises some doubt about the prosecution's case.

Before you go to court, you may want to write down the main points you want to try to explain to the magistrate. This may include:

  • stating briefly the circumstances which led to the incident
  • mentioning the witnesses, documents, photographs and other evidence that support your case
  • which part of the prosecution's case you dispute or disagree with, and why.

If you are not confident speaking in the courtroom, you can write what you would like to say in a letter and hand it up to the magistrate. The magistrate may ask you questions about the information you have included in the letter.

Hint iconYou could practice speaking to the magistrate with one of your friends or relatives. You could also go to a local court and watch some hearings. If you telephone the court, you can find out the dates and times that hearings are held. Courts are open to the public (except if a case involves a child) and you can sit in the public area at the back of any court and watch. ​