Going to court
If you are pleading guilty, the magistrate will usually sentence you on the first date you go to court, unless the matter has to be adjourned.
Going to court - Step by step guide
Step 1: Find your courtroom
When you go to court for the mention, you will need to find the courtroom where your case will be heard. The court will usually put up a list of all the cases being heard that day. You should look for your name on the list, and it will tell you the courtroom you need to go to.
Step 2: Speak to the police prosecutor (if you need to)
You may want to speak to the police prosecutor about getting a copy of the Police Facts Sheet and your criminal and/or driving record, if you don't already have it.
You may also want to talk to the prosecutor about any changes you want made to the police facts sheet. It is best to write to the police about any problems you have with the facts sheet, or about getting your charges dropped, before your court date. If the change you want is minor, it is possible to negotiate this with the police prosecutor when you are at court.
The prosecutor will be wearing a suit not a uniform. They will be sitting on one side of the bar table in the middle of the courtroom, and they will usually have a large pile of files with them.
For more information on talking to the police prosecutor about changes to the facts sheet, see
Negotiating with the police.
Step 3: Enter your plea
The magistrate will ask you 'how do you intend to plead' or 'what do you say to the charges'. If you have decided to plead guilty, this is the time when you need to tell the magistrate you are pleading guilty.
Make sure you are polite and wait your turn to speak. You should also refer to the magistrate as 'your honour'.
If you want to do an intervention program, or if you have already enrolled in one, this is when you should tell the magistrate. The magistrate may adjourn your case at this point until after you have completed the program. For more information about getting ready for court, see
Preparing for court.
Step 4: The prosecutor hands up the facts sheet and your record
After you have entered your plea of guilty, the police prosecutor will hand up (give) the 'facts and record' to the magistrate. These documents are the Police Facts Sheet and your criminal and/or driving record. The magistrate may ask you if you have read the police facts sheet. The magistrate will then read both these documents.
Make sure you have read the police facts sheet and your criminal and/or driving record (if you have one) before it is handed up to the magistrate. These documents can only be handed up to the magistrate by the prosecutor, if you consent. If you don't agree with what they say, you do not have to consent. If you decide to object, you should be ready to explain your objection to the magistrate.
If you don't have a copy of these documents, you should ask the prosecutor for a copy. You should read them carefully and make sure they are yours.
For more information about the documents the prosecutor hands up, see
Information from the police.
Step 5: Hand up your documents
After the police prosecutor has handed up the Police Facts Sheet and your criminal and/or driving record, the magistrate may ask you if you have anything to hand up.
This is when you can give the magistrate any written submissions, letter of apology, character references, reports or certificates.
Before you hand up the documents the police prosecutor will have a look at them and decide whether to consent to you handing them up. A court officer can pass them to the prosecutor or you can give the prosecutor another copy. If they do not object to anything in them, the court officer will give them to the magistrate.
You should not approach the bench (the table where the magistrate sits) unless you are given permission.
For more information, see
Step 6: Make your submissions
After the magistrate has read your documents, you can make submissions to the court. This means you can explain what happened in your owns words and give the court some information about yourself. This is called 'mitigating' the offence.
You should also tell the court about:
- your personal history
- your education and employment history
- your financial circumstances, including your income and expenses (this may help the magistrate decide how much to fine you)
- your good character
- your criminal and/or traffic history
- your need for a drivers licence (if necessary)
- how sorry you are for your actions.
For more information, see
Step 7: The prosecutor may make submissions
After you have made your submissions, the magistrate may ask the prosecutor if they have anything to say. The prosecutor may want to point out to the magistrate any facts which aggravate the offence (make the offence seem worse), or tell the magistrate what sentence they think you should be given.
Step 8: The decision
After the magistrate has read all the documents and listened to you and the prosecutor, he or she will sentence you. The magistrate will usually ask you to stand up when they are reading out your penalty.
You will usually be sentenced on the same day, unless the magistrate adjourns the case so that you can enrol in an intervention program, or the magistrate requests a sentencing assessment report.
For more information, see
For more information about what might happen at court, you should watch the video below.
You can also read a transcript of this video (44 kb).