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The magistrate's decision

After the magistrate has heard the police prosecutor’s evidence and your evidence they will make a decision.

What if I am found not guilty?

If you are found not guilty the case is dismissed and you are free to go.

Can I ask for my court expenses to be paid?

You can ask for your solicitor’s costs to be paid along with your witnesses’ expenses. To do this you should:

  • ask the magistrate by saying, Your Honour, I would like to apply for an order that the prosecution pay my expenses for defending this matter
  • have a list of the expenses ready to give to the magistrate.

It is unusual for the magistrate to make the prosecution pay your expenses. The magistrate will only do this if they believe the police had very little evidence to support the charges they made against you.

What if I am found guilty?

You should prepare for a possible guilty finding before you go to court. Even if you plead not guilty it is possible the magistrate might find you guilty after hearing all the evidence.

If you are found guilty the magistrate will ask the police prosecutor if you have a criminal history or a traffic history.

You can ask to see your criminal history or traffic history.

If there is anything you do not agree with in the traffic history or criminal history, tell your lawyer or the magistrate.

The magistrate will then ask you if there is anything you want to say about your circumstances that could affect the penalty they give you.

If you have written character references or other supporting information like medical reports or a letter from your employer, hand them to the court clerk to give to the magistrate.

Tell the magistrate any relevant details for example:

  • if you have children you support
  • if you are employed
  • your level of education
  • if you could pay a fine or do community service
  • if you are attending or are prepared to attend any courses such as anger management and drug or alcohol counselling.

How does the magistrate decide my penalty?

The magistrate listens to what you have to say and decides on the penalty they will give to you.

The magistrate will usually decide your penalty straight away.

The penalty is based on:

  • the offence
  • your prior convictions
  • what you have said in court.

There are a number of penalties a magistrate can give you. See the list of some possible penalties.

What if I don't agree with the decision?

If you disagree with the magistrate’s decision or think your penalty is too harsh, you can appeal to the district court.

Time limits apply to making an appeal. You have one calendar month from the date of your conviction or your sentence to appeal.

If you have not filed the application for appeal within a calendar month, you can apply for leave to appeal ‘out of time’. This is only allowed in certain circumstances and you should talk to a lawyer to see if this applies to you.

You can get the necessary forms from the magistrates court or the Queensland Courts website www.courts.qld.gov.au

It is possible a higher court might reject your appeal and even give you a harsher penalty.

You should get legal advice before you decide to appeal the decision.

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