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Legal words and phrases explained

Adjournment — when your case is put off to another day.

Affidavit — a signed, written statement by a person to be used in court. The person who makes an affidavit must swear under oath or make an affirmation that the contents are true. It is signed by a justice of the peace, commissioner of declarations or a lawyer.

Affirm (affirmation) — a spoken declaration where you promise to tell the truth when giving information or evidence to the court or writing it in an affidavit. You can make an affirmation if you do not want to swear an oath on a Bible or other sacred book.

Applicant — a person who asks the court to do something by filing an application.

Bar table — the table in the courtroom where the police prosecutor, lawyers and defendants stand or sit when appearing before the magistrate.

Commissioner for statutory declarations — a person recognised by law as being able to witness legal documents such as affidavits and statutory declarations (similar to a justice of the peace, see below).

Defendant — a person who is defending themselves against legal action.

Evidence — the proof needed to support your side of the story. Evidence is usually given verbally in court, and also in affidavits.

Hearing — where evidence is given to the court from all people involved in a case and a decision is made.

Justice of the peace — a person recognised by law who (among other duties) helps with the legal process by witnessing documents. This is a person you can ask to witness you signing your affidavit.

Magistrate — the name for the decision maker in the magistrates court. You call the magistrate ‘Your Honour’.

Mention date — the different dates you have to go to court (other than a hearing).

Oath — ‘taking the oath’ means swearing on the Bible or other sacred book that you will or have told the truth. If you do not want to take the oath, you can make an affirmation.

QP9 — a written summary of the Police version of why you were charged and what happened.

Restricted licence — the formal name for a work licence.

Special hardship order — an order made by the court that lets you drive under special conditions even though your normal driver licence has been suspended.

Work licence — a court ordered licence that lets you drive for work even though your normal driver licence has been cancelled because of drink driving or a similar offence.

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