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What happens in the courtroom will depend on your charges and if you choose to plead guilty or not guilty.
There are three legal options for your first mention date. You should discuss these options with a lawyer.
You should ensure that you have had legal advice as soon as possible as it may not be possible to obtain more than one adjournment of your matter.
You, or the duty lawyer, can ask for your case to be adjourned to another date to allow you to get more legal advice and help.
If the court gives you an adjournment you will be given a new date to come to court.
If you have been in police custody, the court will look at what bail conditions are appropriate during the adjournment. Usually you will be given bail on your own undertaking. This means you will have to sign a form before you leave the court promising you will come to court again at the next mention date.
Other bail conditions could include:
Scenario 1 — How to ask for an adjournment
On your second appearance date you must be ready to
tell the magistrate whether you are pleading guilty or not guilty.
If your matter is to proceed in the magistrates court then the magistrate will ask for the result of the case conference, which is a discussion about the charge(s) between the prosecutor and yourself (if you are representing yourself), or between the prosecutor and your lawyer/duty lawyer.
The prosecutor for example may agree to drop some charges, if you plead guilty to others.
Even if you are unable to come up with an agreement you must still tell the magistrate that you have held discussions with the prosecutor.
An election (decision) must be made whether or not your charge(s) can be dealt with by the magistrates court or by the district court. If the prosecutor has the election, they will tell the court where your matter will be heard.
The magistrate may ask you to decide which court you want to go to if the nature of your charge requires you to decide what court your matter is decided in.
You can choose to tell the court you are guilty of the offences you have been charged with by the police.
Do not plead guilty unless you understand exactly what the police have charged you with. A conviction can have serious consequences and you should get legal advice before pleading guilty.
For information on how to plead guilty, see Pleading guilty.
You can tell the court you did not commit the offences the police have charged you with. You will be given a new date to come to court to hear the police evidence against you and explain your version of events to the magistrate.
For information on how to plead not guilty, see Pleading not guilty.
Scenario 2 — How to plead 'not guilty'
If your matter can be heard in the magistrates court and proceeds to a trial, the magistrate will then set a date for you to appear at a mention called the summary callover. At the summary callover, the matter will then be listed for trial.
The prosecutor must provide you with a full brief of evidence within five weeks of the summary callover.
If your matter can not be heard in the magistrates court and instead needs to be heard in the district or Supreme Court (seek legal advice about this) then the magistrate will then set a date for you to appear at a mention called the committal callover.
You must seek legal advice if your matter is listed for committal callover.
Last updated 20 November 2015