Checking what you have been charged with
After you are charged, depending on the offence you are charged with, you may be given a number of documents. Sometimes it can be difficult to read and understand these documents. You should carefully go through these documents to understand what offence you have been charged with, the allegations against you, what you have to do next, whether you are on bail and what your bail conditions are.
While the events are still fresh in your mind, it is a good idea to make some notes in your own words about what happened. You should also write down any conversations you had with the police and any witnesses. It is also a good idea to ask any witnesses to make their own notes. These notes will help you to prepare for court.
What is a Court Attendance Notice (CAN)?
When you are charged you will be given a Court Attendance Notice (CAN).
Depending on the offence, you may get a CAN from Roads and Maritime Services (RMS), your local council or the police.
The CAN will tell you:
- the date and time you have to go to court
- what court you have to go to
- the name of the police officer or authorised officer
- what you have been charged with.
Sample Court Attendance Notice - police.
If you were charged with a drink driving offence, you should also receive a Certificate of Blood Alcohol Concentration.
If you were charged with an offence involving violence, you may also be given an Application for an Apprehended Violence Order or a Provisional Apprehended Violence Order. You should also get a statement from the victim.
If the police charge you but you are not at a police station, the police officer can give you a 'field CAN'. This is a small yellow slip that has the same information. It lists the offence or offences you have been charged with.
What is a Police Facts Sheet?
If you are charged by the police, you will also get a Police Facts Sheet. This is a document that tells the version of events according to the police. It is usually attached to the CAN. The police write the facts based on what they saw and heard and what the victim or witnesses say they saw and heard.
The Police Facts Sheet should be given or sent to you with the CAN. If you were given a field CAN, you will usually get a proper CAN and the police facts sheet before your court date or on the day of court.
You should read the document carefully. Make a note of anything you disagree with or anything that is wrong.
Sample Police Facts Sheet.
If you disagree with the facts in the police fact sheet, you may want to contact the police and let them know. They may be able to amend the facts. For more information, see
Negotiating with the police. Before you speak to the police, you should get
Are you on bail?
If you were charged with an offence, the police may or may not have arrested you. If you were arrested the police may have just let you go or they may have released you on bail. Being released on bail means that you have made a promise to the police that you will follow certain conditions if they let you go. This is called a 'Bail Acknowledgement'.
If you are released on bail, there are some bail requirements. These are conditions you have to follow. A standard bail conditions is that you attend court at a particular time and date. Usually there will be other bail conditions, such as:
- living at a certain address
- reporting to police on a regular basis
- not contacting witnesses, particularly alleged victims
- not driving a motor vehicle (for alleged traffic offences)
- not drinking alcohol
- attending drug and alcohol courses
- attending rehabilitation or counselling courses
- attending medical appointments
- a curfew, that requires you to be at home during certain hours
- not going to certain places
- not contacting certain people, for example people involved in the offence
- surrendering your passport
- agreeing to pay money if you do not attend court.
If you do not go to court on the date specified or if you breach any of your bail conditions, the police can arrest you and hold you in custody until they take you to court.
When the police release you on bail, you will get a number of documents:
- Custody Management Record
- Reasons for Bail Decision by Authorised Officer
- Bail Acknowledgement
- Property Docket.
Custody management record
A Custody Management Record is a record of your time in custody, including how long you were held, phone calls you made, and people who attended the station, such as a lawyer or support person.
Reasons for Bail Decision by Authorised Officer
The Reasons for Bail Decision by Authorised Officer document sets out why the police decided to give you bail.
The Bail Acknowledgement is your promise to comply with the bail conditions.
The Property Docket is a record of any items taken from you when you were in custody.
If you are not sure if you are on bail, you don't understand your bail conditions or if you have any concerns about how you were treated in custody you should get
What happens next?
Before you go to court, you need to consider whether to plead guilty or not guilty to the charges. For more information, see
Pleading guilty or not guilty.
If you disagree with the facts in the police fact sheet, or you want to see if you can get the charges dropped or reduced, see
Negotiating with the police.