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When you get your Court Attendance Notice (CAN), it will tell you what court you have to go to and the time and date that you must be there.
This first time that you go to court is called a 'mention'. The purpose of the mention is for the court to find out whether you want to plead guilty or not guilty.
Even though your case may be listed at a certain time, it is a good idea to get to the court half an hour earlier to find out what courtroom your case will be heard in.
For information about how to find your courtroom, you should watch the video below.
You can also read a
transcript of this video (36kb).
This video is available with the
If you think you are going to be late, you should ring the court registry and let them know. If you are not there the court can decide your case without you. The court can also issue a warrant for your arrest to have you brought to the court.
There are often many cases listed on the same day and you will have to wait until your name is called. You can take a seat in the courtroom or if the courtroom is full you can wait outside. Make sure you stay close enough to the courtroom to hear the court officer call your name. If you leave, or are not there when you are called, your case can be decided without you.
The magistrate or registrar may close the courtroom for morning tea (usually around 11:30am) and for lunch (usually from 1:00pm to 2:00pm). You will have to leave the courtroom during these breaks. You can check what time the courtroom will reopen with the court officer or the registry.
It is possible that you could be at the court for a few hours, and sometimes for most of the day, so you should make arrangements with your work or childcare if necessary.
Remember to turn off your mobile phone before going into the courtroom. You should also remove hats and sunglasses and be quiet in the courtroom while the magistrate is dealing with other cases.
You will usually appear in front of a registrar or magistrate. You will have to tell the registrar or magistrate whether you are pleading guilty or not guilty.
If you are pleading guilty this means that you agree with the allegations against you and that you committed the offence.You may want to go to court and plead guilty with an explanation if you believe that the penalty is too harsh or if there are special circumstances that you want the court to consider.You may also plead guilty in writing, which means you won't have to go to the mention.For more information, see
If you are pleading not guilty this means that you do not agree with the allegations against you and that you either believe you did not commit the offence, or that you have a defence. You usually plead not guilty at the mention, and your case is then listed for a hearing on a later date.
In some cases you may be able to plead not guilty in writing, so that you don't have to attend the mention.
For more information, see
Pleading not guilty.
If you are not ready to have your case heard at court, you can ask the magistrate to move to another day. This is called an 'adjournment'.
Examples of why you may not be ready include if:
For more information about how to ask for an adjournment, you should watch the video below.
You can also read a transcript of this video (45 kb).
You need to be aware that if the court decides not to adjourn your case, the court can make a decision without you being there. If this happens, you might be able to apply to annul (cancel) the court decision.For more information, see
Appeals and annulments.
If you think you won't be able to make it to court you can:
If you can't go to court you should contact the court registry and explain why. It is a good idea to send something in writing, for example a letter or fax.
If you are sick you should also send a medical certificate that states you are unfit to attend court and why, and ask the court to adjourn your case. You should do this as soon as possible.
Sample: Letter requesting an adjournment
If you need to move your case to another court you should contact the court. The court may ask that you put your request in writing.
Sample: Letter requesting a change of court
In some cases you may be able to fill out a form called a 'Written Notice of pleading'. In this form you tell the court whether you want to plead guilty or not guilty.
You should get legal advice before using a Written Notice of Pleading. You should not use a Written Notice of Pleading if you are on bail.
For more information about pleading guilty or not guilty in writing and when you can do it, see
Pleading guilty or Pleading not guilty.
If you miss your court date, or if you are late, the court may make a decision about your case when you are not there. The court can adjourn your case, or you can be found guilty in your absence. If the court makes a decision in your absence you won't be able to explain your circumstances to the court, or plead not guilty. The court may also issue a warrant for your arrest.
If you missed your court date, or if you were late for court and the court made a decision in your absence, you may be able to apply for an annulment of the decision.
For more information, see
Appeals and annulments.