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On the date of your hearing date make sure you are on time. When you get in the courtroom you should organise yourself and your documents so you can easily locate everything during the hearing. At the end of the hearing the magistrate may make a decision or adjourn the case to another day, depending on how much time is left.
If you have been charged with a serious offence you should get legal advice as soon as possible.
When you go to court for the hearing, you should arrive at court at least half an hour before your case is listed for hearing. You can find the courtroom where your case will be heard by looking up your name on the court list (usually in the foyer of the court house)
If you are going to be late ring the court registry, otherwise the court may decide your case without you.
Before you enter the courtroom, make sure you turn your mobile phone off and remove your hat and sunglasses. You can sit in the public gallery of the courtroom until your name is called.
Be prepared to be at court all day. You may not be the first to have your case called, so make arrangements with work or childcare, if necessary. Sometimes cases are 'not reached', depending on how long other matters take. If this happens, your case will be adjourned and you and all the witnesses will have to go back to court on a different date.
Once your case is called, you can move to the table at the front of the courtroom facing the magistrate. This is called the 'bar table'. The prosecutor will usually sit on the right hand side. You can sit in a chair on the left hand side of the table. This may vary from court to court.
The magistrate will usually ask if you and the prosecutor are ready to start with the hearing and will listen to any issues, for example, if there were documents missing from the police brief and they were not served on you after you asked for them.
The magistrate will either:
Once everyone is ready to start, the witnesses will be asked to wait outside. The prosecutor will present their case first. They will call their witnesses and question them. You will also be given a chance to question their witnesses.
After hearing the prosecution evidence, if the magistrate decides there is a case to answer, you can present your case, by giving evidence and calling any other witnesses you have.
For more information, see
At the hearing.
Sometimes, when there is a lot of evidence or many witnesses, the magistrate will not be able to finish the hearing in one day. If this happens, the magistrate will have to adjourn the hearing until the rest of the evidence can be heard. Depending on when the magistrate is next available, the adjournment may be for a few weeks or for a few months.
The magistrate will give you instructions on when to come back to court and who should come to court on that day. In some cases, your witnesses and the prosecution witnesses will all have to come back to court for the rest of the hearing. If your witnesses were subpoenaed they will need to come back on the next court date.
The bar table should only be used to place documents and folders. It is not be used for personal belongings for example coffee cups, water bottles or handbags.
After hearing all of the evidence, the magistrate will often give their decision straight away, or after a short break. The magistrate will give reasons for their decision. Sometimes, the decision of the magistrate will be 'reserved'. This means that a decision is not given on the day of the hearing and the court will contact you when the decision has been made.
For more information, see