When you go to court for the hearing, 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, as it will tell you the courtroom you need to go to.
Even though your case may be listed at a certain time, it is a good idea to get to the court at least half an hour earlier to find out what courtroom your case will be heard in. 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.
There are often many cases listed on the same day and you 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 are 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 with the court officer or the registry what time the courtroom will reopen.
Depending on how long the magistrate estimated your hearing will take and if any other matters are heard first, 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.
Once your case is called, you can move to the table at the front of the courtroom facing the magistrate (bar table). The magistrate will ask if everyone is ready to start the hearing. 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. If everyone is ready to start, all the witnesses may be asked to wait outside. The hearing will then begin.
For more information, see
Arguing your case.
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.
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.
If you are successful at defending the case, you will be found not guilty and your case will be dismissed.
If you are not successful and you lose the case, the magistrate may sentence you for the offence on the same day or on another date.
The magistrate may ask you if you have any character references. If you have not prepared character references you may want to ask for an adjournment until a further date so you can get some references.
Instructions: Instructions for preparing a character reference.
Sample character reference.
After the magistrate has sentenced you, you will be sent a Notice of Penalty. The Notice of Penalty will set out any court fine you have to pay, as well as any court costs levy, victims support levy and professional costs. For more information, see
Costs in fine cases.
After court, you may want to consider:
For more information, see
For some driving offences, there are minimum periods of disqualification, which the court must impose. If the offence carries a licence disqualification, or you are concerned about losing your licence, you should get